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Lincoln Park, Old Town

Feds Fine General Iron’s Current, Former Owners $500,000 For Operating Defunct Scrapper Without Pollution Controls

The defunct North Side scrapper's settlement with the EPA, announced Wednesday, resolves citations from July 2018.

Scrap metal is brought to General Iron Industries’ Lincoln Park facility in August 2020.
| Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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LINCOLN PARK — Federal regulators fined General Iron’s parent company and former owners $500,000 Wednesday, settling claims that the defunct North Side scrapper violated federal air quality regulations.

Former owner Seller Industries — run by the Labkon family and previously known as General Iron Industries — was cited by the Environmental Protection Agency in July 2018.

The agency found the metal recycler at 1909 N. Clifton Ave. was operating without a necessary permit and without pollution-limiting equipment required under the Clean Air Act.

General Iron returned to compliance in February 2020 after installing a regenerative thermal oxidizer — which was the site of explosions that temporarily shut down the company’s operations less than a year after it was installed.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Pieces of burnt and bent metal lay on the ground as fire crews were called to General Iron Industries for an explosion on May 18, 2020.

The regenerative thermal oxidizer passed a performance test, and the company applied for the necessary permit to fully comply with federal regulations, EPA officials said.

General Iron Industries sold the Lincoln Park scrapper in September 2019 to GII, a subsidiary of Reserve Management Group.

General Iron shut down at the end of 2020. Reserve Management Group now seeks to move its operations and most employees to the Southeast Side.

The settlement “fully resolves three-year-old allegations that were settled two years ago,” Reserve Management Group spokesperson Randall Samborn said.

“The consent agreement acknowledges that the companies that formerly operated General Iron have fully complied” with the EPA, Samborn said.

The EPA settlement is unrelated to the agency’s investigation into the state’s approval of a permit for Southside Recycling, which would take over General Iron’s operations and employees.

That investigation was suspended in February as officials try to “informally” resolve a civil rights complaint filed by people who live on the Southeast Side.

The city settled a dozen violations with General Iron last fall, including the May 2020 explosions in the regenerative thermal oxidizer, for $18,000.

Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd), whose ward includes the defunct Lincoln Park shredder, and residents on the North and Southeast sides criticized the city’s settlement process.

More information on General Iron’s closed Lincoln Park facility is available through the EPA’s website.

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