After being hit with a dozen citations from city inspectors in the past year, scrap metal recycler General Iron agreed to pay a penalty of $18,000, the city of Chicago’s Department of Law has announced.
The fine covers violations stemming from an explosion that occurred in the spring as well as issues uncovered during more than 100 inspections conducted by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH), in which General Iron was frequently cited for fugitive dust and odors emanating from its operation at 1909 N. Clifton Ave. in Lincoln Park.
“We are pleased that this settlement directly addresses the issues of fugitive dust and odors found through our enforcement efforts and also addresses the conditions that caused the explosion,” Dr. Allison Arwady, CDPH commissioner, said in a statement.
According to city officials, a portion of the $18,000 fine will be used to purchase two field olfactometers (devices that measure odors) for the site. In addition to the fine, General Iron has spent more than $300,000 on mitigation measures, including $179,000 for dust mitigation and $128,000 on explosion prevention measures.
“We believe that the substantial mitigation and explosion prevention measures we’ve installed are enhancing our processes. We also appreciate that the agreement provides for the purchase of olfactometers to properly measure odors based on objective state standards,” General Iron said in a statement.
The metal recycler is set to shut down its operation on the North Side at the end of 2020 and relocate to a new facility on the Southeast Side, a move that’s been met with strong opposition from environmental justice advocates. The company has not yet applied for the final permit needed for the new location.
Anticipating city approval when the permit is filed, activists have turned to federal authorities in their fight to block General Iron’s move to the Southeast Side
A lawsuit has been filed against the city in U.S. District Court by a pair of South Side ministers, alleging environmental racism on the part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Arwady for clearing the way for General Iron’s relocation. According to a report in the Chicago Sun-Times, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development confirmed it’s investigating a separate complaint lodged by community organizations that General Iron’s move violates the Fair Housing Act.