Stop General Iron From Moving to Chicago's Forgotten East Side! We Deserve Clean Air Too!

Stop General Iron From Moving to Chicago's Forgotten East Side! We Deserve Clean Air Too!

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Infamous Metal Recycler, General Iron, was kicked out of prestigious North Side Chicago neighborhood, Lincoln Park, due to residents complaining about pollution.  Rescinding Former Mayor Rahm Emmanuel's deal to allow General Iron to operate until 2022, Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered General Iron to close their Lincoln Park operations by end of 2020; fulfilling her campaign promise of holding serial polluters accountable.   But the company still has been given the green light to take their dirty business to the city's South Side. 

Chicago's forgotten East Side neighborhood on the city's South Side is extremely over-polluted.  After fighting to ban deadly Petcoke, the East Side neighborhood has been handed another death sentence from the City of Chicago.  General Iron plans to move and expand their metal recycling business to less than 1/2 mile from the Chicago Public School's George Washington High School.

Studies have shown residents of the East Side neighborhood are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer than any other area in Chicago.  This is another example of the City of Chicago catering to wealthy neighborhoods while showing utter disregard for others.

If it's not safe for safe for Lincoln Park why is the East Side any different?!

A public hearing to discuss General Iron's plans to move is scheduled to be held online on May 14, 2020.  There will be a session starting at 1:30pm and a second session starting at 6:00 pm. Computer and telephone connection options are available.

Anyone who wishes to make a comment at the hearing must contact the hearing officer and request to do so by 5:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. The hearing officer contact information is jeff.guy@illinois.gov or call (217) 785-8724.

COVID-19 and the recent scandal with Hilco in Chicago's Little Village neighborhood have shined a light on Chicago's air quality issues.  This gives East Side residents a last fighting chance to keep this disaster from actually happening.

PLEASE HELP US!

In July 2018, the USEPA issued Notices of Violations (www.epa.gov/il/general-iron after 1) General Iron failed to provide/comply with a data request for Particulate Mass (metallic dust) on certain days, 2) failed to obtain an operating license for their Hammermill shredder from the IEPA, 3) failed to install required pollution control equipment on their shredder, 4) failed to submit for a Clean Air Act permit and 5) failed to obtain a Title V permit from the IEPA in violation of the federal  Clean Air Act and corresponding state clean air laws.

EPA enforcement options include 1) issuing an administrative compliance order, 2) issuing an administrative penalty order and 3) bringing a judicial civil or criminal action. 

What is Scrap Metal?

Examples of discarded scrap metal are ordinary household metals (aerosol cans, beverage cans, old refrigerators, air conditioners), electrical metals (wire, conduit, light fixtures), car parts (radiators, batteries, transmissions) construction metals (paint cans, aluminum siding, rebar) and industrial metals (welding tanks). Some metals such as batteries, radiators, transmissions, refrigerators and paint cans contain, or are coated with, industrial chemicals.

Where Does the Scrap Metal Come From?

From anywhere and unknown origins; no questions asked.  Scrappers transport scrap metal from all over the Chicago metropolitan area to the General Iron facility. From small Scrappers who traverse the city alleys to large semi’s loaded with scrap, if it’s scrap metal, it is likely to be discarded at General Iron. The payment for the scrap metal varies based on demand for the various recycled metal.

What takes place at General Iron?

Monday through Saturday beginning at 5AM, General Iron receives truck loads of scrap metal from both known and unknown sources. The scrap metal is loaded into a shredder that shreds the scrap metal into small pieces. The shredded scrap metal is then loaded into a high-speed conveyor belt and thrown airborne onto large piles that extend 70’ or higher. There are several large piles of scrap metal stockpiled at the facility. Eventually, the shredded scrap metal is loaded onto barges and transported down the river to other facilities where the recycling process continues.  

Watch General Iron's operations first hand:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNiGA7vYgk4

Why Should We Be Concerned?

1. While General Iron is known to receive automobiles and refrigerators for shredding, the origin for a substantial amount of the scrap metal received by General Iron is unknown.  General Iron does not pre-screen the scrap metal for coatings that contain hazardous waste, combustible materials, toxins or contaminants that may be harmful to the environment (such as lead and acid from car batteries and Freon from discarded refrigerators) before the scrap metal is shredded and disbursed airborne into large stockpiles.

2. When the scrap metal exits the shredder, metallic dust known as PM2.5/10 and fiberglass is disbursed by the prevailing winds into the nearby neighborhood. PM2.5/10 is known to contribute to various respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.  In addition,  the heat generated by the shredding process eviscerates the unknown coatings on the scrap metal causing a plume of cancer-causing VOC's and SVOC's (semi-organic volatile compounds) to be disbursed by the prevailing winds into the nearby residential neighborhoods. Fiberglass insulation, contained in automobiles and refrigerator-type products, survives the shredding process. Fiberglass exposure can lead to  a respiratory disease called "asbestosis."  

3. When the stockpiled scrap metal is exposed to water or rain, unknown quantities of metal dust and unknown quantities of coatings/pollutants may be washed onto the ground and into the city sewer system.

4. Periodically, at it's current location, fires have spontaneously ignited in the large scrap piles exposing nearby residents of Lincoln Park and Bucktown toxic plumes of cancer-causing VOC's . Most recently, the morning of Sunday, December 6, 2015 and the morning of Friday, December 11, 2015, the Chicago Fire Department responded to burning piles of scrap metal. The CFD declared the December 6th fire a Level One Hazmat emergency due to nearby Lincoln Park residents and businesses being exposed to plumes of thick, dense smoke and possible exposure to unknown pollutants including VOC's for a two hour period before the fire was extinguished.

5. From time-to-time, spontaneous combustion has taken place at General Iron when unknown, highly volatile gases are ignited.

6.  We have enough pollution already!

https://blockclubchicago.org/2020/03/03/neighbors-of-general-iron-ask-epa-to-return-to-chicago-for-independent-study-of-fluff/

https://news.wttw.com/2019/09/16/general-iron-deal-spurs-debate-about-land-use-air-quality