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Chicago River
PI Original
by Ellyn Fortino
Fri Jan 10

Study: Protecting Great Lakes From Asian Carp Could Cost Billions, Take Decades

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday submitted a long-awaited study to Congress detailing ways to prevent Asian carp and other invasive species from taking over the Great Lakes. Some of those efforts could cost billions of dollars and take decades to finish. Now that the study has been released, environmentalists and others are urging decision makers to move forward and take action before it's too late.

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Jan 6

Pilsen Residents Push Back Against Proposed Metal Recycling Facility

Chicago's Zoning Board of Appeals granted Pure Metal Recycling more time on its application for a special use permit involving the company's attempt to open a large shredding facility in Pilsen.

In late December, an attorney for Pure Metal Recycling asked that the hearing be postponed until this month at the request of Ald. Danny Solis (25th), whose ward would house the proposed metal shredder. The Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) had requested that the aldermen ask for the delay, citing environmental community concerns. The next Zoning Board of Appeals hearing on the matter is scheduled for January 17 at 2 p.m.

The company is seeking a special use permit to establish a $30 million metal recycling facility on 15 acres of land near Cermak Road and Loomis Street by the South Branch of the Chicago River. It would be nearly across the street from Benito Juarez Academy, 1510 W. Cermak Rd., and a few blocks from another metal shredding facility, Sims Metal Management, at 2500 S. Paulina St.

Some community members say the new scrap metal factory would be a step back when it comes to the recent environmental progress in Pilsen, such as shutting down the Fisk coal-fired power plant as well as cleaning up the H. Kramer copper smelting foundry and the former Lowenthal Metals site.

"There's no zero-emissions shredder," Nelson Soza of the community group Pilsen Alliance said in remarks after the December 20 meeting. "These metals are going to be particles that are going to fly into the air. These folks use water to suppress that, but there is no 100 percent assurance ... that this is going to be completely clean."

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Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Mon Sep 9, 2013

National Report: 17 Illinois Coal-Fired Power Plants Discharge Toxic Water Pollution

A recently-released national report has sounded the alarm on coal-fired power plants that are dumping certain toxic metals into waterways without limits. 

Of the 274 coal-fired power plants nationwide that discharge coal ash and scrubber wastewater into public waters, 17 are in Illinois, according to a report released by Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club and other conservation groups. 

Not one of these Illinois coal-fired power plants has a cap on the amount of toxic metals, such as arsenic, boron, cadmium, mercury and selenium, allowed to be released into waterways, according to the “Closing the Floodgates” report. Few of them have requirements to monitor or report the toxic discharges to federal authorities. 

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Quick Hit
by Ashlee Rezin
Wed Jul 3, 2013

Illinois Beaches Experience High Levels Of Contamination, Report Finds

Ten percent of water samples taken from the 65 beaches and beach segments of Illinois in 2012 tested positive for high levels of bacteria, according to a new report from the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Illinois ranked 24th out of 30 states evaluated for beach water quality last year in the NRDC’s annual “Testing The Water” report. The state, which rose from being ranked 28th in 2011, has 52 public swimming beaches along the coast of Lake Michigan.

“We have a closed system here in the Great Lakes, and all of our pollution tends to linger,” said Karen Hobbs, senior policy analyst with NRDC. “It’s hard to say exactly what’s happening in Illinois. That’s why its important for beach managers to be proactive and be out there testing the water and identifying the sources of pollution.” Read more »

Quick Hit
by Ellyn Fortino
Thu Apr 4, 2013

State Coalition Hosts Talk On Reversing The Chicago River

Illinois’ Healthy Water Solutions Coalition has a vision for Chicago’s future.

It includes revitalizing the Chicago River via restoring the natural divide between the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basins.

Physical separation of the basins and Lake Michigan is the only permanent solution to prevent invasive species from transferring through the Chicago waterways, members of the coalition said at it’s public “Changing Course: Revitalizing the Chicago River” talk Wednesday night. The meeting was set to get more people engaged with the issue.

“This is about a lot more than Asian carp,” said Tim Eder, executive director of the Great Lakes Commission. “This is about more than just one fish that threatens Lake Michigan. It’s about a number of different invasive species ... but it’s also about more than fish, and the ecosystem, and the lake. It’s about restoring and utilizing a precious resource that in many ways the city has turned its back on.”

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