Neighbors say Lincoln Park scrap yard creates toxic mess

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Residents in Lincoln Park are holding a meeting Tuesday night about air and water quality concerns surrounding a Lincoln Park scrap yard.

Neighbors say the yard is creating a toxic mess and they want city, state and federal leaders to step in.

Heavy machinery moves scrap metal around the General Iron facility in Lincoln Park. Neighbors say it is the normal daily operation.

The company has been here for more than a century. But more recently, as Lincoln Park has become more residential and neighbors have become concerned with the air quality and particles they believe get into the environment from the plant.

Resident Iain Whitaker, who lives near the site, said "We're all breathing it. I have concern for the whole neighborhood I think."

Whitaker says he's especially concerned for his young child, and other children in the area.

Alexis Fasseas runs the PAWS pet rescue office across the street.

"There are serious implications to what this large scale pollution could have on people and pets who live in this neighborhood," said Fasseas.

There have also been several fires at the facility, including one a year and a half ago that brought out the hazardous materials team. Residents are planning a meeting Tuesday night to discuss results of independent air quality tests.m .conducted by scientists from UIC. They show higher than normal levels of particulate matter in the air.

"Should the community be concerned? Yes, I think the community should be somewhat concerned," said UIC epidemiology professor Dr. Victoria Persky

Based on that assessment, 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins says he, "will not stop advocating for the transition of this business to a more appropriate facility." A spokesperson for General Iron tells ABC-7 there's been a lot of talk in the community that's inaccurate. He says the company will have no response until they see the results of the tests.

The city's health commissioner says the department will work with the EPA to evaluate more thorough air quality tests, that the agency is currently performing.

Neighbors attended a community meeting Tuesday night to get results from independent air quality tests conducted by scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Researchers said more tests need to be done around the General Iron Facility to determine exactly what is in the air.

A spokesperson for General Iron said the company will not respond until it sees test results.
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