Illinois EPA approves General Iron construction permit for Chicago's Southeast Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has granted a permit for a controversial scrap metal plant to move from Chicago's North Side to the Southeast Side.

Construction of a new recycling operation is anticipated at 116th and Avenue O in the East Side neighborhood after General Iron, owned by RMG.

Oscar Sanchez, who lives nearby, opposes the construction. He was among those who offered more than 300 statements to the Illinois EPA during a public comment period.

"I feel like my voice has been silenced. I feel that this is a slap to my face, that this is a slap to our community," said Sanchez.

Opponents noted an explosion at General Iron's Lincoln Park facility last month, which led city officials to shut down the recycling operation.

RMG is calling the East Side facility General III.

General Iron/RMG issued a statement, saying in part that "equipment at the new General III facility will exceed those found at any other steel shredding operation in Illinois or surrounding states."

The Illinois EPA construction permit was approved with special conditions, which limit emissions as well as hours of operation. More monitoring and testing of emissions will also be required.

Sanchez said even though there are special conditions, some voices weren't heard.

He said the permitting process happened during the COVID-19 pandemic, when residents had limited internet access for the Illinois EPA virtual hearings.
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