NIGHTMARES don't send Andrew Rosser's three young children running for the safety of dad's room. Instead, they start screaming when their South Philadelphia house starts shaking in the middle of the night.
"It feels like someone dropped your bed from the ceiling," Rosser said of the booms coming from the immense car crusher at the sprawling scrapyard nearby. Rosser, an eight-year resident of the Reserve at Packer Park, a housing development at 20th Street and Pattison Avenue, added, "They wake up upset and scared, and they wonder what's going on."
The first time Rosser heard and felt the car crusher in action - a week after he moved in - he called 9-1-1 to report a nearby explosion. Since then, he and the president of the housing development's homeowners' association, Sonny Duca, have run the gamut of city and civic bodies looking for help.
"Everyone's been passing the buck on this scenario," said Rosser. "I've actually called almost every organization in Philadelphia that possibly might be able to do something."
Rosser's home, like many neighboring the facility, which sits at the base of the Platt Bridge along Penrose Avenue, was built long after the car crusher geared up.
"We've been there for over 35 years," said Camden Iron and Metal President Joseph Balzano. "They built these new residences in a very high-industrial area in Philadelphia, and we're just trying to live with each other."
Balzano called residents' accusations "pure speculation." He also touted the 75 jobs at the facility.
Meanwhile, Balzano said that he's been trying to move out since 2002 - spending more than $30 million on legal fees, engineering and property - after former Gov. Ed Rendell's administration promised state funds to aid in the relocation as part of a beautification campaign. In 2011, he said, those funds evaporated.
Nearby residents recently began circulating an online petition asking to block or alter the facility's operating permit, which is set for renewal this summer. Nearly 200 people have signed it.
City public-health records show that the facility's permit was renewed in 2008, a year after the city's Air Management Services, which handles noise complaints, got 22 complaints of "explosions." Reports bottomed out in 2010, but surged back last year.
City records show 139 complaints against the facility since 2007. The first noise violation was issued to the facility last week.
"This was very difficult because [the car shredder] only worked nighttime and weekends, so being at the right place and the right time was challenging for us," said Nan Feyler, chief of staff for the city's Public Health Department.
Momentum, however, may be building in favor of the neighborhood.
Following the surge in calls this winter, the Health Department took the unusual step of posting constant surveillance nearby. They've recorded four noise violations in the past week compared with only one in the past six years.
Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has scheduled a protest outside the facility Wednesday afternoon. Representatives from the city and the company have agreed to meet with residents next month.
Until then, Duca said that he's documenting his interactions with the city and the company.
Bleary eyed and frustrated, Rosser documents something else: "1:52, 3:30, 6:55, 7:00 - yes, that's a.m."