CHICAGO — Following long-term pushback from Southeast Side residents, the City of Chicago announced Friday that the permit General Iron’s parent company was seeking to operate a recycling plant there has been denied.
Last May, the city delayed the company’s petition to move their facility from Lincoln Park to the Southeast Side. Their facility, located in the 1900 block of North Clifton, closed its doors in Dec. 2020.
Reserve Management Group, who owns General Iron, then announced plans to open a recycling plant on the Southeast Side — near a predominantly Latino neighborhood.
“Because of these well-known degraded environmental conditions, the siting of this facility in Chicago’s Southeast Side has raised significant civil rights concerns,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said at the time.
Many activists protested for the City of Chicago to intervene as the parent company sued for $100 million. RMG claimed Chicago officials violated a contract by not issuing a final permit to operate their new plant.
On Friday, opponents of General Iron gathered at City Hall to declare victory in their long effort to stop what they called environmental injustice.
Marcie Pedraza is with the Southeast Side Environmental Task Force
“Enough is enough. We’re tired of being dumped on,” she said. “We deserve clean air, clean soil, and clean water.”
“It was the right thing. They’re not doing us favors. This community didn’t deserve this in the first place,” Breanna Bertachhi said.
“The HIA (Health Impact Assessment) found that certain census block groups in the Southeast Side community rank among the highest in Chicago for vulnerability to air pollution, based on underlying health and social conditions. Further, the Southeast Side population has higher rates of chronic conditions such as coronary heart disease and COPD in adults than Chicago overall. The HIA also found that community conditions on the Southeast Side have been affected by the presence of past and current industry and that the proposed Southside Recycling facility would contribute additional negative impacts to the environment, health, and quality of life for area residents,” the city said in a press release.
The HIA’s summary report is available on the CDPH website.
In a written statement, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Allison Arwady said, “Concerns about the company’s past and potential noncompliance are too significant to ignore.”
It’s unclear what if any recourse the company will take.
RMG did not respond to WGN’s request for comment today.