Brighton Park residents want city to clean contaminated site of former proposed migrant camp

Jasmine Minor Image
Friday, January 5, 2024
SW Side residents say failed migrant camp site remains contaminated
Brighton Park neighborhood residents said the City of Chicago has yet to clean a contaminated site that was proposed as a migrant base camp.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Some Brighton Park families say they are tired of waiting for the city to clean up a site that was found to have cancer-causing chemicals.

The neighborhood has now taken things in their own hands to make a change.

"Brighton Park residents are calling the city to clean up the contaminated land," community activist Dr. Kim Tee said.

A environmental study released in December showed substances such as arsenic, mercury and lead were found at a site located near 38th and California. Those findings led to the cancellation of construction of a base camp for an estimated 2,000 migrants.

They did not clean up. They ducked out and opened up a can of worms.
Dr. Kim Tee, community activist

"It's not good for the health, that could lead to the cancer," Brighton Park resident Sonia Zhu said.

Zhu said she has lived in Brighton Park for eight years and has never worried about getting sick until now.

"I just think our voices are not being heard," Zhu said.

She and other families had protested for weeks when the site was set to become a migrant base camp. Now, they've started the Chinese Crisis Responder Organization, a nonprofit "with the purpose to help the victims and their families in life crisis."

"Containment remains there and is very dangerous," Dr. Tee said.

Dr. Tee is now the Chinese Crisis Responder Organization. He said the community has not seen any clean up activity at the site for weeks. It's unclear if all the toxic chemicals were removed.

"They did not clean up," Dr. Tee said. "They ducked out and opened up a can of worms."

ABC7 has reached out to Mayor Brandon Johnson's office as well as the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to ask about the status of the site clean up and did not immediately hear back.