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South Chicago, East Side

City Rejects ‘Incomplete’ Proposal For General Iron Owner To Operate In East Side; Metal Scrapper Must Reapply

RMG, General Iron's parent company, must refile its application to open a recycler at 116th Street and Burley Avenue after the city found numerous portions didn't meet local health requirements.

The General Iron Industries in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago seen in April 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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EAST SIDE — Controversial plans for General Iron’s parent company to expand its East Side recycling operation were dealt a setback last week as city officials partially rejected the company’s “incomplete and substantially deficient” application.

In a letter last week, Chicago Department of Public Health officials detailed nearly three dozen “deficiencies” in Reserve Management Group’s application for an operating permit to open Southside Recycling in the East Side neighborhood. RMG also owns General Iron and would move the recycler’s essential equipment and most existing employees to 11600 S. Burley Ave.

RMG’s application is so lacking, company leaders are being asked to “submit an entirely new application document incorporating the requested information,” the Dec. 23 letter states.

Among other points, city officials requested the following information that was missing from RMG’s Nov. 11 application:

  • Details on the company’s plan to prevent explosions in and damage to a crucial piece of pollution-limiting equipment at the proposed facility. In May, two explosions occurred in General Iron’s regenerative thermal oxidizer, a machine that would be moved from Lincoln Park for operation at Southside Recycling.
  • A stormwater pollution prevention plan.
  • An explanation for the use of a “caustic additive” in the facility’s stormwater treatment plan.

City health officials also asked RMG to address inaccurate calculations in an air pollution study of the site.

You can read the full letter here. All documents related to RMG’s permitting process will be posted to the city’s website.

RMG must submit a new application document “because of the magnitude of the information requested,” environmental engineer Renante Marante wrote in the letter to Hal Tolin, RMG’s chief operating officer.

Without the revisions, Southside Recycling’s application does not meet the city’s rules for large recycling facilities and would not be issued an operating permit, according to city officials. The rules were created as a direct response to neighbors’ overwhelming disapproval of RMG’s plans.

“We expect to work with the city to meet or exceed the requirements for the permit,” RMG spokesperson Randall Samborn said in a statement Tuesday.

If the refiled application still doesn’t meet all 34 requirements, the health department could give RMG one more chance to do so — or officials could deny the permit immediately “depending on the nature and extent of the deficiencies” in the submission, according to the city’s permit guidelines.

The city’s timeline for reviewing RMG’s application will not change despite the request for more information, according to Marante. All relevant dates are still based on the Nov. 11 submission.

Public comments on RMG’s application can be emailed to envcomments@cityofchicago.org until Jan. 14.

If the city determines RMG’s revised application meets all rules and ordinances, officials would post a draft permit by Jan. 17 — 60 days after the application was posted online, according to permit guidelines. Another 30-day public comment period on the draft permit would follow.

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