City did not communicate well enough over RMG recycling plant concerns, officials say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Recycling operations of General 3 have not begun on the Southeast Side, as city officials acknowledged they did not communicate well with the concerned community there.

RMG bought General Iron, which had operated in Lincoln Park until May when explosions forced the city to shut it down. They also own the new General 3 facility on the Southeast Side. Some remain opposed to RMG operating on the Southeast Side. Monday they urged people to call the mayor's office, sharing a flyer and hosting a virtual press conference.

"It is a blatant disregard, they are sending a strong signal to us that our lives don't matter," said Olga Bautista of Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke.

"It is really about time that the needs of our community and the people come first," said Sheilah Garland-Olaniran, Illinois Poor Peoples' Campaign.

"My community on the Southeast Side is often called the armpit of Chicago because basically we are the forgotten part of Chicago's South Side," said Vanessa Zepeda, student at George Washington High School.

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"My students that I teach have to pay the cost for this community benefit," said Chuck Stark, teacher at George Washington High School. "That is environmental racism."

The Illinois EPA had issued a construction permit for General 3, and recently the city granted an air pollution control permit, but the final recycling facility permit has not been issued by the city.

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

The city is also still working through the process with RMG regarding violations at the Lincoln Park facility.

Late Monday, the spokeswoman for the city's Department of Public Health issued a statement saying in part, "there should have been better engagement with the community on this issue...given the sensitive nature of this matter we recognize this was a clear missed opportunity for CDPH to keep the community informed of the process in a timely manner. Moving forward, CDPH will provide more prompt, thorough community notifications of new activity."

General Iron was allowed to resume its North Side operations in August.

The spokesperson for RMG told ABC7 Eyewitness News the company hopes to begin operations on the Southeast Side early next year.
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