May 27, 2021

After Duckworth-Durbin-Kelly Request, Federal Government Set to Conduct Independent Review of Southeast Side Metal Recycling Plant’s Health Risks


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After a request from U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Congresswoman Robin Kelly (D-IL-02), the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) announced today it will to conduct an evaluation of the potential health effects related to exposures to environmental contaminants near the Reserve Marine Terminals and the South Shore Recycling facilities located on Chicago’s Southeast Side. ATSDR, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services public health agency with the mission of protecting communities from harmful health effects related to exposure to natural and man-made hazardous substances, said it will conduct a health consultation to review the hazards posed by the emissions from industrial metal shredding and recycling operations at the 11600 S. Burley Ave. site.

It’s clear there is an urgent need for an independent, expert evaluation of the public health hazards caused by this site,” said Duckworth. “I’m pleased ATSDR accepted our request and will begin a comprehensive evaluation of existing health risks for Chicagoans on the Southeast Side. The community near these facilities has long borne the burden from toxic pollutants, and residents, along with the policymakers who represent them, deserve to know about the public health hazards around these facilities. Environmental injustice is all too common in Black and brown communities, and we must help make sure that every American is able to breathe safe air regardless of their zip code, the color of their skin or the size of their income.”

“When there is a potential threat to air quality, we must work with local leaders to take precautions for the health of community members.  I am relieved to hear that the ATSDR heeded our call to review the health risks associated with the Reserve Marine Terminals and the South Shore Recycling facilities for the safety of Southeast Side residents,” said Durbin. “With ATSDR devoting resources to this review, we can track and prevent any harmful emissions before it causes a public health crisis.”

“Maintaining public health is one of our top priorities, and we must ensure that any facility handling potentially hazardous materials is not a danger to the health of our communities,” said Kelly. “I am glad that ATSDR has agreed to conduct an evaluation around the Reserve Marine Terminal and South Shore Recycling facility project, and I look forward to reviewing their findings.”

ATSDR’s public health evaluation will be documented in a written Health Consultation and will include recommendations for further actions, if warranted, to protect public health.

Earlier this month, the City of Chicago, following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan’s request, delayed the permit for Reserve Management Group to expand its metal recycling operations at this site.

The Senate’s Environmental Justice Caucus, of which Senator Duckworth is a co-founder and Senator Durbin is a member, aims to raise awareness of the many environmental and pollution issues that have created public health challenges, which disproportionately impact low-income communities and communities of color. The caucus seeks to help those communities advocate for themselves with the federal government by providing expertise and assistance, generating legislation and organizing hearings and events.