A black plume rises over East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of a controlled detonation of a portion of the derailed Norfolk and Southern trains Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. (AP Photo / Gene J. Puskar)

Crews released toxic chemicals into the air from five derailed tanker cars that were in danger of exploding  and began burning it after warning residents near the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line to leave immediately or face the possibility of death.

A Citgo refinery in Lemont. (WTTW News)

Oil refineries are discharging toxic pollutants into our waterways and the Great Lakes with little oversight from regulators, according to a new report from the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonpartisan nonprofit group that advocates for enforcement of environmental law

A still image from a video taken of the demolition of the Crawford Coal Plant smokestack, April 11, 2020. (Alejandro Reyes / YouTube)
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The mayor came under fire by some alderpeople for not living up to her campaign promise to re-establish a city Department of Environment. 

The Michigan City Generating Station has been burning coal for electricity for nearly a century. (WTTW News)
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Northern Indiana Public Service Company is retiring the 130-acre Michigan City Generating Station, which has been burning coal for electricity for nearly a century. The company is also cleaning up decades of coal ash byproduct. But advocates say plans to leave some coal ash on the site puts groundwater and Lake Michigan in danger of contamination. 

Plastic accounts for 85% of litter collected at Great Lakes beaches. (Brian Yurasits / Unsplash)

The annual Adopt-A-Beach cleanup, organized by the Alliance for the Great Lakes, is set for Saturday.

MAT Asphalt in McKinley Park is pictured in a file photo. (WTTW News)
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In a city where air pollution is an environmental justice issue, local grassroots groups are self-installing, funding and monitoring air pollution monitors to understand the specific threats they face and demand change.

Protests against General Iron's relocation to the Southeast Side have been ongoing for months, including a march on the mayor's house in November 2020. (Annemarie Mannion / WTTW News)
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The board voted 6-0 to reject the recommendation from Chicago Public Schools CEO Pedro Martinez that teachers Lauren Bianchi and Charles “Chuck” Stark be terminated for violating safety rules involving protests and a trip to Cambridge, Massachusetts. Instead, they each got a warning and were directed to undergo training.

An aerial shot of the newly constructed Southside Recycling, 11600 S. Burley Ave. (Courtesy of Reserve Management Group)
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Chicago could lose of hundreds of millions of dollars in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development if it does not resolve federal officials’ concerns over a metal shredding and recycling operation.

A still image from a video taken of the demolition of the Crawford Coal Plant smokestack, April 11, 2020. (Alejandro Reyes / YouTube)
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A summary of the results of the probe conducted by former Inspector General Joseph Ferguson was released in January, as required by city law. However, Lightfoot has rejected calls from Little Village residents and environmental justice organizations to release the full results of the investigation into the implosion at the former Crawford coal power plant, which sent a plume of dust over six blocks of homes in April 2020.

An aerial shot of the newly constructed Southside Recycling, 11600 S. Burley Ave. (Courtesy of Reserve Management Group)
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Officials with the Chicago Department of Public Health rejected the permit because of the “potential adverse changes in air quality and quality of life that would be caused by operations, and health vulnerabilities in the surrounding communities.” 

An aerial shot of the newly constructed Southside Recycling, 11600 S. Burley Ave. (Courtesy of Reserve Management Group)
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City officials said they would announce no later than Sunday whether they will issue the final permit Southside Recycling needs to start operations.

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Chicago Public Schools students in predominantly Latino communities are being disproportionately impacted by pollution emitted from industrial sites across the city. 

A still image from a video taken of the demolition of the Crawford Coal Plant smokestack, April 11, 2020. (Alejandro Reyes / YouTube)
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Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not respond to a question from WTTW News about whether she thought it was appropriate for her appointees to reject the inspector general’s recommendation to fire an employee of the Chicago Department of Public Health and punish two other employees of the Department of Buildings responsible for approving and overseeing the implosion of the smokestack.

A still image from a video taken of the demolition of the Crawford Coal Plant smokestack, April 11, 2020. (Alejandro Reyes / YouTube)
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The first report from interim Inspector General William Marback disclosed that Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration declined to fire an employee of the Chicago Department of Public Health or punish two other employees of the Department of Buildings responsible for approving and overseeing the implosion of the smokestack.

A rendering of the Urban Sequoia prototype. (Courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill)
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What if our cities could be more like forests? That’s the question at the heart of a new building prototype developed by architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

An aerial view of the Chicago Area Confined Disposal Facility, a 45-acre site on Chicago’s Southeast Side that has been in operation since 1984. Inset: The CDF is outlined in red. (Credit: Army Corps of Engineers)
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Environmentalists Vow to Keep Fighting

A 20-year extension of the dump, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers to hold toxic sludge dredged from Lake Michigan, is still under review. The dump was supposed to be retired in 2022 and turned over to the Chicago Park District for redevelopment.