City Hall could penalize businesses on lead emissions
From Chicago Tribune:
A City Council committee today endorsed an ordinance that could push three industrial operations to speed up their compliance with federal standards for the release of harmful lead into the atmosphere.
Under the proposal, the city could order plants that exceed federal lead-emission standards to suspend operations until new pollution-control equipment is installed.
It was proposed by Ald. Daniel Solis, 25th, who was forced into a runoff election this year after his opponent accused him of being too soft in trying to limit pollution from a coal-fired power plant in Pilsen.
Solis made the proposal after a Tribune report detailed harmful levels of lead in the air near Perez Elementary School, 1241 W. 19th St. In the wake of that report, federal and state officials began to crack down on a nearby smelter.
The city's action could force quicker compliance, said Jerry Mead-Lucero, of the Pilsen Environmental rights and Reform Organization.
"It's a step forward, and we're glad the alderman is interested in working on it, but we still think it needs to be improved," he said.
His view contrasted with Asuncion Torres, of the Pilsen Alliance. She said the ordinance was too complex and would be all-but-impossible to enforce.
In addition to the H. Kramer smelter operation, two coal-fired power plants in Pilsen and Little Village could be affected by the ordinance. It requires operations that emit more than 100 pounds of lead a year to monitor their emissions to ensure they comply with federal standards.
Activists from Pilsen and Little Village continue to push for dramatic reductions in the level of pollution from the two coal plants -- an issue new Mayor Rahm Emanuel has pledged to address.
The council's Committee on Health and Environmental Protection advanced the ordinance and the full council will consider it Thursday.