Southeast Side Neighbors and Activists Respond to Chicago City Council Manganese Ordinance

City Council Action Does Not Fix Exposure to Neurotoxin: Needed First Step, More Needs To Be Done

A coalition of local, state and national groups reacted to Chicago’s City Council enacting a new ordinance to address neurotoxic manganese emissions on the city’s Southeast Side. In the runup to today’s vote, neighbors, health advocates, legal voices and environmental groups voiced frustrations with the ordinance’s limitations and weakness to the City Council’s zoning committee, expressing the need for more aggressive action.

Following is a joint statement from the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke (SSCBP), the Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF), Moms Clean Air Force, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Nurses United, Reclaim Chicago, Little Village Environmental Justice Organization and Respiratory Health Association:

Today’s action comes from a place of good intentions and stands as a necessary first step, but the loopholes and limited scope of action means that much of the problem remains unaddressed. The ordinance reduces the chance that manganese problems will spread, but does little to deal with the exposure our children and neighbors are facing right now. This ordinance is not the solution; much more must be done to rid our community of this brain poison threat.

“Everyone involved with this issue agrees that much more needs to be done to address the problem of neurotoxic dust on the Southeast Side. We expect City officials and City Council members to stick to their promises to stay focused on this—and we will hold them accountable if they do not.

“This is just the latest environmental health fight to pop up on the Southeast Side. Petcoke. Manganese. Particulate matter from other polluting industrial facilities. The City’s zoning and permitting process forces our communities to play whack-a-mole fighting the latest outrage and threat to our families’ health. It is time for Chicago to look at cumulative impacts and get serious about protecting ALL of its communities.”


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 and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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