Business and Economics

EPA Says Chicago Metals Site Decontaminated

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November 7, 2013 — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy says today that EPA has finished cleaning up Loewenthal Metals.

The former lead smelter site is in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, where EPA removed high concentrations of lead from the soil to make property safe for future residential use.  EPA says it began removal of 4,800 tons of contaminated soil and debris last June from the Loewenthal site.

Today, it announced that contaminated soil had been replaced with clean soil that is seeded to prevent erosion.

EPA says Loewenthal Metals operated as a lead and zinc smelter as well as a scrap metal dealer during the 1940s in a largely residential area on a half-acre Chicago site.  In December 2011, the Illinois EPA referred the site to U.S. EPA for potential cleanup, and after EPA soil sampling for lead one year ago, cleanup started in June.

McCarthy said she’s proud of EPA’s work, “Cleaning up dangerous levels of lead in Pilsen is just one example of how EPA is making a real difference for families and communities across the country—especially those most vulnerable to environmental hazards.”

Earlier, Administrator McCarthy toured the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods to see first-hand the progress of EPA efforts to reduce pollution in the area, where Pilsen Alliance Board President Rosalie Mancera said, “We hope we keep addressing Pilsen’s industrial footprint.”

Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization’s Jerry Mead-Lucero said, “We have regular meetings with U.S. EPA staff to stay on top of multiple sites of concern in the community.  The increased cooperation between U.S. EPA and PERRO has already resulted in the remediation of contaminated sites in the neighborhood, and we expect more sites to be addressed in the near future.”

More information about EPA’s activities in the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods is available on the EPA Web site:


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