Press Release

IL EPA Waste Dump Permit Threatens Southeast Side, Lake Michigan

Environmental and community groups call on IEPA to deny additional permits for that site

Chicago – Local community groups and environmental organizations learned on December 10, 2021, that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency approved the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit application to extend operations for another year of a waste dump by the Lake Michigan shoreline on the Southeast Side of Chicago. The dump holds dredged materials from the Calumet River that pose a threat of toxic pollution of Lake Michigan and could harm the community, which is already overburdened with environmental pollutants. Contaminants identified in the sediment from the dredged waters include mercury, PCBs, arsenic, barium, cadmium, manganese, chromium, copper, lead, and more.

The Confined Disposal Facility, created in 1984, was supposed to be sealed and turned over to the Chicago Park District in 2022 to become a public park for Southeast Side neighbors to enjoy. In addition to the permit granted today, the Army Corps is seeking to expand the CDF by building a new larger, dredge dump facility on and around the existing site. Today’s permit will be thoroughly reviewed and next steps are being evaluated.

Amalia NietoGomez, Executive Director, Alliance of the SouthEast (ASE):

“This is the third environmental issue this week that affects the Southeast Side—an EJ community. I find this quite disturbing that the CDF was approved especially given concerns at the public meeting about water quality and whether the berm walls were compromised due to wave action caused by climate change.”

Juanita Irizarry, Executive Director, Friends of the Parks:

“After participating in a subpar Illinois EPA-led public input process over the summer, Friends of the Parks is not surprised that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was granted a permit extension to operate the Confined Disposal Facility. It is clear that the health and well-being of Southeast Side community residents are not being prioritized. We remain determined to resist any efforts to drag out the closure of the CDF and its conversion to a park as promised.”

Kiana Courtney, Staff Attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center:

“We were disappointed that Illinois EPA granted a permit extension to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a waste dump sitting in Lake Michigan in a community already overburdened with environmental pollution. While we understand the permit was modified based on public comments, we are still reviewing the full impact of those modifications. ELPC is determined to work with our partners to advocate for Illinois EPA to deny additional permits for this site to protect the health of nearby community residents and Lake Michigan.”

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