City tells General Iron owner that application to open on South Side is ‘deficient’

A proposed car-shredding operation along the Calumet River will need to show more proof of pollution and safety safeguards.

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General Iron’s Lincoln Park operation.

General Iron is currently located in the 1900 block of North Clifton Avenue.

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The city asked General Iron’s owner to submit almost three dozen additional documents related to potential pollution and safety as part of its application to open a controversial car-shredding operation on the Southeast Side. 

In a letter dated Wednesday, the city called Reserve Management Group’s permit application “incomplete and substantially deficient” under new rules for such operations. The requests relate to an array of issues, from dust and air pollution control to stormwater discharge into the Calumet River where the facility will be located at East 116th Street. 

The city also is asking for details on controlling fires and explosions. Southeast Side residents have noted an explosion at General Iron’s Lincoln Park site earlier this year as well as numerous air pollution and nuisance complaints from North Side neighbors as reasons they oppose the business. They’ve said it’s not fair that a business that generated years worth of complaints from neighbors is moving to their community and many have called it environmental racism. 

RMG is expected to stop operating General Iron at the metal-shredder’s longtime home in Lincoln Park at the end of the year. It is building a new facility it plans to openon the Southeast Side in early 2021. 

The operation under construction has been highly contentious as community members and environmental groups have fought to keep the business from starting up. The new facility, to be rebranded Southside Recycling, is the subject of both a federal lawsuit and a complaint to federal housing officials. Both complaints, naming Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the city, allege the relocation of a polluting nuisance from mostly white Lincoln Park to a Latino-majority community is a violation of residents’ civil rights. 

Lightfoot’s Administration has denied allegations in the federal complaints and has said it will conduct a thorough review of the permit application, though residents say they don’t want the business at all. 

An RMG spokesman declined to comment.

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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