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More than a century after Upton Sinclair described a stretch of the Chicago River as “a great open sewer,” Bubbly Creek is still plagued by waste – and the restoration process has been mired in its own political muck.

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A Chicago Department of Public Health sign warns passersby about hazardous materials at the 67-acre property west of Wolf Lake at 126th Place and Avenue O. (Alex Ruppenthal / WTTW News)

Records show the 67-acre site on the Far Southeast Side, used as a dumping ground for more than two decades by Republic Steel, is contaminated with lead, manganese, mercury and other toxins.

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Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul appears on “Chicago Tonight” on Feb. 21, 2019.

The Trump administration has proposed $2.8 billion in cuts to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, including a decrease of more than $1.4 billion in funding for states. 

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An overhead view of Watco’s storage terminal at 2926 E. 126th St. in Chicago. (Google)

U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth are among those urging the EPA to take “immediate action” against Southeast Side industrial facilities for emitting potentially harmful levels of brain-damaging manganese dust.

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An interactive map shows results from soil sampling conducted near S.H. Bell. (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Regulators plan to clean up the soil of several residential yards with high levels of brain-damaging manganese, but they have yet to finalize a plan for addressing homes with elevated levels of lead in the soil.

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An overhead view of Watco's storage terminal at 2926 E. 126th St. in Chicago. (Google)

Watco Transloading says it will no longer handle materials with high concentrations of manganese, a heavy metal used in steelmaking that can cause brain damage at high exposure levels. 

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The Sterigenics plant in Willowbrook (Chicago Tonight)

A medical supply sterilization company in suburban Willowbrook was shut down Friday by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency due to elevated cancer risks.

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(Google Maps)

Chicago facilities that process potentially harmful industrial materials must now take further steps to ensure they aren’t polluting surrounding neighborhoods.

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John Berg, an environmental health specialist with the DuPage County Health Department, runs water from a private well in Willowbrook on Dec. 13, 2018, as part of testing for levels of cancer-causing ethylene oxide. (Alex Ruppenthal / WTTW)

Water samples collected at homes near a suburban medical sterilization plant linked to a cancer-causing gas showed no signs of contamination, environmental regulators announced Wednesday.

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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan (Chicago Tonight file photo)

A group of state attorneys general, including Lisa Madigan, is demanding that the EPA withdraw its plan to delay a regulation aimed at reducing emissions of methane and other pollutants from landfills.

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(Pixabay)

The advocacy group Moms Clean Air Force warns that a Trump administration proposal to weaken standards for emissions of toxic mercury would harm residents and wildlife across Illinois. 

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(Frank McNamara / Flickr)

The Trump administration’s plan to roll back limits on toxic mercury pollution will harm Great Lakes fish – and potentially those who eat them, advocates say.

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An overhead view of Watco's storage terminal at 2926 E. 126th St. in Chicago. (Google)

After finding high levels of brain-damaging manganese near Watco Transloading’s facility on the Southeast Side of Chicago, the EPA has accused the company of violating the Clean Air Act. 

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An overhead view of Watco's storage terminal at 2926 E. 126th St. in Chicago. (Google)

Watco Transloading faces up to $20,000 in city fines for failing to control emissions of brain-damaging manganese from its storage facility along the Calumet River. 

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John Berg, an environmental health specialist with the DuPage County Health Department, runs water from a private well in Willowbrook on Thursday as part of testing for levels of cancer-causing ethylene oxide. (Alex Ruppenthal / WTTW)

Water testing at homes in suburban Willowbrook is the latest step in the response to concerns over the release of dangerous ethylene oxide gas by Sterigenics International. 

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An overhead view of Watco's storage terminal at 2926 E. 126th St. in Chicago. (Google)

As regulators continue to monitor manganese emissions at S.H. Bell Co., new air monitoring data shows alarming levels of the brain-damaging heavy metal near another industrial facility in the area.

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