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General Iron cited $6K for explosions at Lincoln Park scrap yard

The Chicago Department of Buildings and the Chicago Fire Department had already ordered General Iron closed, and the Chicago Department of Public Health says the scrap yard will remain shuttered until a repair plan is approved by city officials and shared with the community.

General Iron plans to leave its current location at 1909 N. Clifton in Lincoln Park to move to the Southeast Side.
General Iron Industries was cited $6,000 for a pair of explosions at their scrap yard, 1909 N. Clifton Ave., officials announced May 21, 2020.
Sun-Times file photo

A North Side scrap recycler was cited $6,000 Wednesday after the city ordered it closed due to a pair of large explosions Monday at its Lincoln Park facility.

The Chicago Department of Public Health issued two citations to General Iron Industries, 1909 N. Clifton Ave., for violating “Illinois state pollution standards,” the agency said Thursday.

The Chicago Department of Buildings and the Chicago Fire Department had already ordered General Iron closed, and CDPH says the scrap yard will remain shuttered until a repair plan is approved by city officials and shared with the community.

An exception will be made for onsite maintenance, machinery repairs and removal of materials from the site, CDPH said.

Monday’s explosions started in the metal shredding conveyor system and damaged multiple buildings, fire officials said. No injuries were reported.

Though fire officials said that air quality tests conducted in the immediate aftermath of the explosions showed no health risks to the community, CDPH said they are installing air quality monitors to keep track of any potential pollutants.

General Iron spokesman Randall Samborn acknowledged the citations and said their own investigation into the explosion was still ongoing, noting the fire department’s initial findings that there was “no apparent immediate health risk to residents and the surrounding community.”

“No other metal recycling facility in Chicago can match General’s Iron’s capacity or has the advanced pollution control equipment that we have installed, which is why it is in the City’s best long-term interest that we complete all necessary repairs, meet and exceed all city and state operating requirements, and resume responsible recycling that protects public health and the environment,” Samborn said.

The company was ordered into a consent decree last year with the Environmental Protection Agency for polluting the air and operating without the correct permit. Monday’s explosions also damaged a piece of equipment meant to help comply with that decree, Ald. Michele Smith (43rd) said.

General Iron had previously agreed to leave their Lincoln Park site for the Southeast Side by the end of 2020.

Contributing: David Struett