EPA Begins Clean-up in Pilsen

By: Ashmar Mandou

A group of eager volunteers, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) members, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) representatives held a press conference Tuesday afternoon outside the Loewenthal Metals site located at 947 W. Cullerton St., in the Pilsen community. After the press conference, community members and advocates began to clean up the heavily polluted site where lead levels were found as high as 26,000 ppm. According to EPA, anything over 400 ppm is considered a concern.

“It is great to see a site that was so polluted for so long and escaped anyone’s attention finally being cleaned up,” said PERRO member Jack Ailey

The Loewenthal site is near the Walsh School, Alivio Medical Center and The Resurrection Project’s Senior Housing Facility. The lot, now empty, used to be home to a lead smelter that was demolished in the 1950s, but never remediated. PERRO became aware of the situation last January and pushed the EPA to respond.

“The fact that it is so close to a school and also the Growing Station Community Garden, makes the cleanup of this site so important,” said PERRO member Victoria Thurmond.

Remediation work had been delayed for several months as the EPA needed to obtain court orders for access to the site. The remediation of the site is expected to take three months. For more information on environmental issues in Chicago’s Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods, visit www.epa.gov/region5/littlevillagepilsen/.

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