General Iron – Belong in Lincoln Park? Signing This Petition is a "NO" Vote

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General Iron is an open-air, scrap metal transfer station, located one block west of Clybourn Avenue at the corner of Cortland and Kingsbury in Lincoln Park. The facility is immediately adjacent to the Chicago River. General Iron has been operating at this location for several decades.  Marilyn and Adam Labkon operate the business.

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.  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, General Iron receives tons of scrap metal from both known and unknown sources. The scrap metal is loaded into a grinding machine that grinds the scrap metal into small pieces. The ground up 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 ground up 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:

Why Should We Be Concerned?

1. 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 hazardous waste, combustionable 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 ground into small pieces and disbursed airborne into large piles.

2. When the ground up scrap metal is thrown airborne, metal dust and unknown coatings/environmental contaminants may be transported by wind into the nearby residential neighborhoods of Lincoln Park; potentially exposing people to unknown environmental contaminants and health risks.   

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 into the adjacent river and city sewer system.

4. When the scrap is loaded onto barges to be transported down the north branch of the Chicago river, it is likely some scrap metal inadvertently has been spilled into the river causing additional environmental concerns. 

5. Periodically, fires have ignited in the large scrap piles. 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 for a two hour period before the fire was extinguished.

6. From time-to-time, explosions have taken place at General Iron when unknown, highly volatile gases are ignited.

7. The Lincoln Park neighborhood is exposed to significant noise levels from General Iron’s operations six days a week including as early as 5AM on Saturdays.

Can General Iron relocate to other parts of the city that is a safe distance from residential neighborhoods?

Yes. There are many parts of the city where a scrap metal transfer station can operate safely without jeopardizing the health and well-being of residents who would otherwise live in close proximity to their facility.

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