Yesterday members of PERRO meet with the newly appointed Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy. We discussed the ongoing partnership between PERRO and the U.S. EPA to tackle several contaminated sites in the Pilsen community and several area sources of pollution. PERRO members expressed their concern about the high levels of lead in soil throughout the community; in particular at homes and properties near the H. Kramer and Co. brass smelter at 1345 W 21st St. and along the railroad tracks owned by BNSF on Sangmon St. But much of the event was meant to celebrate the success of the remediation at the Loewenthal site at 947 W. Cullerton St. which PERRO drew attention to in November of 2012 and which the US EPA clean up this past Summer. For press reports of the meeting, see the following links…
PERRO organized a very successful public forum with Region 5 of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday evening at the Walsh School. The purpose of the forum was to inform Pilsen residents about several contaminated sites in the Pilsen community which PERRO and the EPA are working together to see are remediated. Another purpose was to release to the public the results of tests conducted by the EPA over the past several months in the community at PERRO’s urging.
Nearly a hundred residents of the Pilsen community attended the forum. Tables were set up to provide attendees info on the following sites… Continue reading →
For Press Inquiries, please call Dorian Breuer at 773 809 3817.
PERRO has just received the welcome news [also repoted by the Chicago Tribune and NPR] of the settlement between H. Kramer and the State of Illinois. H. Kramer is being forced to install new pollution control equipment that we hope will reduce the amount of lead it puts into the air to a very low level. This settlement appears to be the most significant advance in our nine year battle to get these emissions cleaned up.
The months that PERRO members spent meeting with Government officials paid off and we appreciate the efforts of the Illinois EPA, the U.S. EPA, the Illinois Attorney General’s office and the Department of Justice to advocate on the community’s behalf.
From what we can see in the decree – it looks as though the main goal of the negotiators on behalf of the community was to ensure that continued emissions of lead from H. Kramer virtually stops after the new baghouse and filter equipment is installed. If that goal can be accomplished, then this will be a significant victory for the community and a message to other polluters in Chicago and elsewhere that they must follow the law.
PERRO will study the agreement, assist in releasing it to the community and gather and send comments that arise.
PERRO is disappointed that H. Kramer refused to agree to Supplemental Environmental Project ideas that PERRO submitted in late 2011 (available here: http://pilsenperro.org/docs/PERROSEPProposal10262011.doc.pdf) that we believe would have helped with additional efforts to prevent lead exposure by children in Pilsen.
The Chicago Tribune’s Michael Hawthorne has published an excellent front-page article [article on the Tribune's website, a copy on PERRO's website] on the delays in addressing a lead-polluted site at 947 W Cullerton and it mentions PERRO’s long-time efforts in the community to address exposure to pollution. Please see the article here or a copy on our site here.
The site has been found to be over 14 times the legal limit for lead in the soil and PERRO recently posted warning signs at the site to attempt to ensure residents stay away from the site. PERRO has also started a web-page with information about the site here: pilsenperro.org/947
Where the article mentions PERRO:
Members Make Signs
Lead pollution is a well-known problem in Pilsen. In 2005, a year before state inspectors tested the Loewenthal Metals site, a group called the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization collected soil samples from several yards and parks in the neighborhood and found lead levels that far exceeded the federal cleanup standard for residential areas.
PERRO held the first of a series of public forums on the future of the Fisk coal fired power plant, after the plant ceases operation later this year. The forum was attended by 25 residents of the Pilsen community with a diversity of views on what should replace the coal plant. But common themes emerged, such as the desire for mixed use of the site to provide both jobs and green space and community access to the South branch of the Chicago River. More on this will be made available in the coming weeks. Several media outlets covered the event, including Progress Illinois which published the following story on Friday…
Public Forum of the Future of the Fisk Coal Plant
Thursday, March 22nd
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Lozano Library – 1805 South Loomis St.
By now all of you probably know that we have achieved a great victory here in Pilsen. For 109 years, the Fisk coal fired power plant has poisoned the residents of our community. The pollution from Fisk has been responsible for untold thousands of cases of respiratory and cardiovascular illness and shortened life spans. But as of next December, this health crisis will finally come to an end. Midwest Generation has reached an agreement with local community organizations, the Chicago Clean Power Coalition, and the City of Chicago to retire the Fisk plant by Dec. 31st 2012.
Below is a clip from Telemundo featuring PERRO member Claudia Lucero talking about the future of the Fisk site…
Chicago, IL — On Monday, July 26 Jerry Mead-Lucero testified on behalf of PERRO (the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization) in support of the new Lead Ordinance proposed by Alderman Daniel Solis (25th Ward) targeting the city’s lead polluters. “We were not happy with the lack of community process in drafting this ordinance and think it could have been stronger, but we recognize it is a step in the right direction.” PERRO and other Pilsen community groups such as the Pilsen Alliance opposed the original version of the proposed ordinance put forward last April by Solis.