CHICAGO – Southeast Side residents are calling on Mayor Lightfoot to place a moratorium during the pandemic on all approvals needed for the construction or operation of new or expanded metal recycling facilities. General Iron, the notorious Lincoln Park metal shredder that was shut down recently after a pair of explosions apparently caused by the company's failure to properly operate pollution control equipment, must seek City environmental approvals and a State air permit to set up a massive new facility on the southeast side.
The Mayor recently put out a press statement claiming that it would hold General Iron accountable, and that the City would ensure that the new site would meet regulations. But residents are expressing concerns given the troubling history and ongoing issues at General Iron and its Southeast Side partner, RMG (operating as South Chicago Property Management). Southeast Side residents point to a long history of toxic pollution and explosions at General Iron that publicly available City inspection records document as recently as this spring, running up to May's explosion.
Residents are also expressing concern with a lax set of proposed regulations that will not require fully enclosing toxic material and water down air monitoring requirements, below what the City requires for other similar facilities. Southeast Siders say these unresolved issues and weak regulations are reasons to hold off issuing any further approvals or allowing any construction for the proposed new Southeast Side facility, especially during the current health crisis.
The following is a statement from The Southeast Environmental Task Force, the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, and NRDC:
“General Iron is being kicked out of Lincoln Park with the help of the Mayor and City but when it comes to protecting Southeast Siders from this polluter, the City is looking the other way. Mayor Lightfoot is relying on weak regulations to hold these dangerous facilities accountable, but they fall utterly short in keeping neighbors safe. It’s not enough to pay lip service to holding General Iron responsible and then allow them to build a new massive and dangerous operation next to our homes, schools and parks.”
The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 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, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at NRDC.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.