Press Release

“Neurotoxins Don’t Belong In Our Neighborhoods” – EPA Takes Action Over Manganese Released on Chicago’s Southeast Side

Olga Bautista, Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, 773-712-4956

Peggy Salazar, Southeast Environmental Task Force, 773-646-0436

Ivan Moreno, NRDC, 312-651-7932

Kelly Nichols, MCA, 917-544-1214

Debbie Chizewer, Northwestern

University Pritzker School of Law’s Environmental Advocacy Clinic, 312-503-4253

Sheilah Garland, National Nurses United, 773-619-4969

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today took action against a bulk storage facility over emissions of the neurotoxin manganese in close proximity to neighborhoods and schools on Chicago’s Southeast Side. The EPA issued a notice of violation to S. H. Bell after posting monitoring data that showed manganese levels exceeding the federal health-based threshold. A coalition of neighbors and health groups had been raising the alarm for over a year.

Manganese is a heavy metal, used in steelmaking and other industrial processes, that is known to negatively impact brain function.

S.H. Bell is located directly across the Calumet River from a facility that was closed after holding massive piles of the oil refining waste petcoke and sparking national outrage. Approximately 10,000 children live within a one-mile radius of the facility.

Following is a joint statement from the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, the Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF), Moms Clean Air Force, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and National Nurses United:

“The neighbors’ concerns about this facility have been justified. Now, S.H. Bell needs to stop its manganese operations. Neurotoxins don’t belong in our neighborhoods.

“The City of Chicago and EPA must step up quickly to help the community protect itself with access to information and appropriate healthcare professionals.

“This is another example of bulk storage facilities in Chicago endangering their neighbors. Manganese is handled in many locations across the region—the data points to a problem in this facility and it needs to be addressed now. But we also need to ensure others are not exposed to this toxic dust in other neighborhoods too.

“The Southeast Side bears a huge pollution burden. It is time for the City of Chicago to consider the cumulative impacts of the industrial and storage facilities in the area. As long as the City looks at these issues in piecemeal fashion, dirty and dangerous projects will continue to be pushed on the community. That is unfair and we will continue fighting against this injustice.”

More information on the EPA action available at https://www.epa.gov/il/sh-bell-chicago-facility

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City; Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Chicago; Bozeman, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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