State says South Lakefront landfill site can operate for another year as army corps continues to expand over decades

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TEC EAST – State environmental regulators have allowed a lakeside landfill for polluted sediment to continue operating for another year, while the federal government awaits the state’s decision on long-term plans for expand the installation.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency on Friday approved a water pollution permit for a “contained disposal facility” adjacent to Calumet Park at the mouth of the Calumet River.

The 43-acre site, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, stores sediment dredged from the Calumet River and five other federally maintained waterways in the city. His license was approved on Friday and expires on November 30.

The army corps partially closed the landfill earlier this year, after its previous water pollution permit expired on May 31.

A public input process led to special conditions on the new permit. They include a requirement that the Army Corps investigate whether the site could introduce more mercury and other toxic chemicals into the local food web.

But even with special conditions, “it’s still a permit to allow a certain level of pollution in a community that’s already overcrowded,” said Kiana Courtney, staff attorney at the Environmental Law and Policy Center.

The permit approved Friday is separate from the Corps’s request for a “vertical extension” of the site, which the agency would see build a facility in addition to the current one if approved. The landfill is expected to reach its current capacity by 2022.

“We currently do not have a timeline for the extension request, but there will be a separate public comment period and public hearing for the vertical extension request,” the EPA spokesperson said, Kim Biggs.

Some neighbors and park advocates oppose expansion plans, saying the process of figuring out where to store sediment once the landfill fills up was “flawed and poorly managed.”

With uncertainty over the long-term impacts of climate change on flooding and shoreline erosion, no decision on expanding a lakeside landfill should be made until Army Corps n will not have finished his coastal study to comeenvironmental activists said Monday.

The study will examine Chicago’s lakeside protection system, with particular attention to flooding between 67th and 73rd Streets, a design for Promontory Point reinforcements, and protections for the water purification station near Rainbow. Beach.

The Corps should add the landfill and surrounding areas to its priorities for the shoreline survey, said Amalia NietoGomez, executive director of South East Alliance.

“There is a public beach that touches the southern tip of the [dump]”said Nieto Gomez.” … It is also very important that toxins do not enter our drinking water. “

Critics also say the Army Corps is reneging on its commitment to return the lakefront property to the Park District once it reaches capacity.

The expansion will likely delay plans to restore the landfill to the park by at least 25 years. Army Corps officials maintain the site will become an open space “in perpetuity” once the facility is closed.

Campaigners are reaching out to lawmakers and other officials, advocating to close and restore the landfill once it is full, said Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks.

“As our lawmakers work on implementations related to the new infrastructure bill and other federal processes, we are updating them and looking for places where they could step in,” Irizarry said.

A Corps spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Southeast Siders’ frustration with extending the permit goes beyond the landfill itself – “it’s about the cumulative impact” of recent developments around new and expanded industrial sites in the community, NietoGomez said .

The Army Corps permit was approved a day after the city held a virtual meeting to discuss its health impact assessment of the metal shredder offered by Southside Recycling.

City officials initially scheduled a virtual session, postponed to an in-person hearing, then reversed course two days before the meeting was held on Thursday. The changes caused “confusion and challenges” to attendees, Health Ministry spokeswoman Ivonne Sambolin said in a public notice.

The permit was also approved a week after Ozinga acquired 140 acres at 11118 S. Buffalo Ave., according to Bisnow Chicago. It is the last stage of the concrete business in an effort to build Invert, a huge underground warehouse project.

The three projects “all move at the same time [with] important things are happening within a week of each other – I don’t think it’s a coincidence, ”NietoGomez said.

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