Southeast Side meeting over metal shredder changed to virtual event

Plans for an in-person meeting are scrapped after the city cites COVID-19 concerns.

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A car and metal-shredding operation proposed for East 116th Street along the Calumet River is awaiting a city permit.

A car and metal-shredding operation proposed for East 116th Street along the Calumet River is awaiting a city permit.

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A rescheduled public meeting over a controversial scrap metal-shredding operation on the city’s Southeast Side on Thursday will be online only with no in-person option, city officials said Tuesday citing COVID-19 concerns.

The meeting, originally scheduled for last week, is being held at 5:30 p.m. and requires online registration in advance. The event is part of an assessment of the business’s impact on an already polluted area of the city. Southside Recycling is the new name given to the former General Iron car-shredding and scrap metal operation that is relocated, rebuilt and awaiting a city permit for its site at East 116th Street along the Calumet River.

Last May, the permit process was put on hold after President Joe Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency administrator asked Mayor Lori Lightfoot to conduct an air pollution and health study to determine whether nearby residents would be harmed by another industrial operation. 

City health officials said there will be no new information presented at the meeting Thursday. “It is instead an opportunity for you to provide community insight for the health impact assessment,” officials said in an email. 

The online meeting will include small group breakout discussions where participants can weigh in on the discussion, according to the email. “We’ll capture this feedback to include as an important, direct input into the [health assessment] report,” officials said.

The city held an initial meeting on Southside Recycling and health impact on Nov. 4 in which a city official discussed health and quality-of-life disparities on the Southeast Side and compared them with General Iron’s longtime home in Lincoln Park. 

The city’s role in moving the industrial operation from a white, wealthy area to make way for a massive real estate development is the subject of a federal fair housing investigation to determine if city zoning and land-use policies violate residents’ civil rights, particularly in communities of color. 

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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