Press Release

Illinois EPA: Deny permit for Toxic Dredge Dump on Lake Michigan

Chicago's Southeast Side does not need more pollution from a facility right next to a water supply.

Chicago – Local community groups and environmental organizations are calling on the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency to deny the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit application to extend operations of a waste dump by the Lake Michigan shoreline on the Southeast Side of Chicago. The dump is filled with 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. Now the Army Corps is seeking to extend its expired permit and expand the CDF by building a new larger, dredge dump facility on and around the existing site. Public comments to Illinois EPA about this permit application are due by Tuesday, October 26.

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

“The Southeast Side is an environmental justice community already facing pollution on all sides and does not need more from a toxic facility right next to our water supply. Recent storm surges and rising lake levels eroding our shorelines, where this toxic facility is located, also puts our drinking water at risk. People living in this community deserve full transparency from government agencies, stringent water quality monitoring, healthy parks and beaches, and assurance that their water is protected.”

Juanita Irizarry, Executive Director, Friends of the Parks:

“The facility was intended as a temporary dredge dump on land that was supposed to be capped and turned over to the Chicago Park District in 1994, but then extended to 2022. If Illinois EPA approves the Army Corps’ permit, the conversion of that site to a public park could be delayed another 20 years.”

Howard Learner, Executive Director, Environmental Law & Policy Center:

“Illinois EPA should deny the permit for the Confined Disposal Facility because it does not fully protect Lake Michigan and the surrounding communities from toxic threats especially in light of rising and changing lake water levels. The Army Corps and IEPA should rigorously explore and objectively evaluate alternative, safer sites.”

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