Chicago urged EPA to examine developers behind delayed southeast side metal shredder


CHICAGO – The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is urging Chicago officials to take a close look at some of the polluting developers operating in the city’s southeast.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot agreed and says she is now pushing the brakes on a permit application for a well-known metal scraper. The move comes after the city said it would take a closer look at whether the Reserve Management Group (RMG) should open Southside Recycling in the East Side neighborhood. The same people own the old General Iron plant in Lincoln Park.

“It’s a victory for everyone involved in this movement,” activist Oscar Sanchez said.

In a letter to Lightfoot on Friday, the US EPA said the city must listen carefully to environmental justice concerns when considering a pending permit application for a new metal scraper on the Southeast side. from the city.

“They expressed some concerns about how this and other environmental issues were dealt with under the previous administration,” Lightfoot said. “Ask us to do a more in-depth environmental scan, and we’re going to do it.”

Campaigners say this is a long overdue victory.

“It took a lot of work to get here.”

Campaigners say the southeast side is already full of polluters and the city needs to prioritize residents over industry.

“These developers underestimated us,” Sanchez said. “But we know we deserve better than General Iron.”

Legal experts wonder why RMG was allowed to continue building the Southside Recycling site while its permit application is still pending – blaming an inappropriate side deal between General Iron and the city in the fall of 2019.

“We should never have come to this place,” said Nancy Loeb, of Northwestern University Law School. “And this break is long overdue.”

The mayor has now promised to conduct a thorough environmental scan, examining the projects with a new level of scrutiny. Some say the location of these sites in black and brown communities raises civil rights concerns. But on Monday, the mayor wouldn’t go so far as to call it environmental racism.

“Enough of the shenanigans,” said Bryon Lopez, alderman for the 25th Ward. “Advocate for every community, regardless of zip code.”

A spokesperson for RMG said the new recycling facility will meet or exceed all applicable environmental and health standards. And if they aren’t allowed to open, it just means another business will do what they do, but with even less oversight and regulation.

The spokesperson said, in part, “The postponement of the Southside Recycling permit will only exacerbate the burden of environmental justice in Pilsen. And, after carefully reviewing the charges of environmental racism, a federal judge concluded that there was no evidence to support the baseless claims.

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