Pilsen residents’ activism, research, and communication with officals pays off.
On April 6, 2006, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 reached an agreement with H. Kramer and Co. on alleged clean-air violations at the company’s brass and bronze manufacturing plant at 1339-1359 W. 21st St., Chicago, Ill.
The agreement, which includes a $500,000 environmental project and a $10,000 penalty, resolves EPA allegations that H. Kramer failed to comply with testing and notification requirements when it installed furnaces used in melting scrap to make brass and bronze.
This settlement comes after an 18-month campaign by residents to clean up the century-old plant, which neighbors say has spewed noxious emissions into the air for decades. After a referendum in November 2005 calling for an investigation of the plant passed by 95%, neighbors mobilized an effort that included working with state and federal EPA officials, the Chicago Departments of Environment and Public Health, and the 25th Ward alderman’s office. They held community meetings, performed independent testing for toxics in the area, and conducted independent research.
The most recent publicly available data shows that H. Kramer emitted 45,000 pounds of particulate matter, which is believed to cause breathing problems, into the air in 2003. Documents provided to PERRO by H. Kramer suggest that in 2004 it emitted 1,200 pounds of airborne lead, which is known to cause brain damage in children. EPA soil testing of H. Kramer property in 2005 found lead levels up to 162 times the residential limit. H. Kramer is located in a residential area of Pilsen across the street from a school and blocks from a public park.
Combined with other sources of industrial emissions in Pilsen, such as the Fisk Generating Station at 1111 W. Cermak, PERRO believes Pilsen suffers from a disproportionately high level of air pollution because of its industrial legacy, its low median income, and its density of first-generation immigrants.
For more information:
- “Smelter plans fixes for Pilsen emissions” by Michael Hawthorne, Chicago Tribune, April 7, 2006 (registration required)
- EPA document describing proposed updates to Kramer facility and fine(PDF)
- IL EPA documents describing the September 2005 settlement and lead levels found in Pilsen
Read more about why neighbors are concerned about H. Kramer Co.