MCKINLEY PARK — A controversial asphalt factory was awarded $141 million in city contracts the same day it settled an agreement with the public health department to pay fines and make several changes to control the smell, dust and smoke it emits from the facility.
MAT Asphalt, 2055 W. Pershing Road, was awarded two contracts Friday, each worth up to $72,778,260 and $68,476,260, to provide city crews with asphalt for street work, city procurement records show.
The asphalt plant also finalized a settlement with the Chicago Department of Public Health Friday, requiring the company to install stronger odor controls and pay a fine.
The factory near McKinley Park’s namesake park has been at the center of environmental concerns since it opened in 2018, blindsiding many residents and public officials who said they were never told the company was coming to the area or applying for a pollution permit.
Over the years, neighbors have repeatedly complained about the smell coming from the facility. Hundreds of complaints about the plant have been filed with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the city’s health department.
Environmental activists blasted the MAT Asphalt’s bid for $500 million in city contracts last year, citing concerns it could worsen the foul odors and pollution in the area.
Under the settlement, MAT Asphalt has to pay “the maximum financial penalty allowed by law,” according to city officials. City officials did not immediately respond to further questions, but the Sun-Times reported the fine was $20,000, citing a settlement document.
The company has 21 days to submit an odor control plan by an independent, third-party consultant that needs the public health department’s review and approval. Once approved, the company has to continually abide by it, city officials said.
“The plan must provide details on how the company will install and maintain condensers atop liquid asphalt tanks and a system for capturing and controlling blue smoke,” the city said. Blue smoke is a type of emission characteristic of asphalt plants.
If the public health department decides the odor control plan isn’t sufficient, the company must submit a new one, officials said.
MAT Asphalt has until Oct. 1 to install odor control condensers and top-of-silo blue smoke controls, and until April 1 to install bottom-of-silo smoke controls, officials said.
The company also has to submit a dust control plan within two weeks, which includes:
- Wetting roadways and paved area
- Collecting dust with vacuum street sweeping
- Using a misting system or mist cannon to suppress dust whenever material is added or removed for any material storage pile
Lastly, MAT Asphalt has to “immediately” clean any spilled material on the plant roadways, and clean truck wheels or pavement to minimize dust or mud being tracked to public roadways, officials said.
The city’s public health department’s “goal in any enforcement action is to hold the company accountable and minimize an operation’s impact on the surrounding community,” CDPH spokesperson Andy Buchanan said in a statement Friday.
In a statement Monday, MAT Asphalt owner Michael Tadin Jr. called the company “one of the most environmentally friendly asphalt facilities in the nation.”
“Our agreement with the City of Chicago builds on that commitment to being responsible environmental stewards,” Tadin said. “From the start, we have taken many of the steps outlined in the agreement; in the coming year, we are also glad to install blue smoke controls faster than our industry peers. At the same time, we commend the City of Chicago for strengthening environmental controls on other asphalt facilities, which will benefit everyone throughout the area.”
Tadin has repeatedly pushed back against contentions his factory is a major polluter. The company appealed $4,000 in city fines in 2021 after an inspector cited the company for foul smells, dust and other airborne material, and trucks leaving the area with airborne emissions, the Sun-Times reported at the time.
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