CHICAGO (CBS) – People in the Pilsen neighborhood are calling on the federal government to clean up toxic lead near a school.
They say Manuel Perez Jr. Elementary School, 1241 W. 19th St., is in danger because of contamination from a manufacturing plant and a power plant nearby.
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Community groups, including the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, held a news conference at the school Monday morning, demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency and lawmakers force the nearby businesses to cut their lead emissions. A group of residents held signs and chanted “Hey, hey, ho, ho, lead pollution has got to go.”
In 2006, H Kramer & Company was fined for clean air violations and the company’s brass and bronze manufacturing plant was forced to invest $500,000 in new pollution controls but Kramer continues to be the largest source of lead pollution in Pilsen. The nearby Fisk coal-fired power plant is the second largest producer of lead contamination, according to the U.S. EPA.
Christine Nannicelli of the Sierra Club said the EPA air monitors speak for themselves.
Elevated levels of airborne lead “proved yet again that the Fisk and Crawford coal plants are absolutely deadly sources of pollution,” she said.
But Fisk claims the spike in emissions is likely from other sources in that December was the company’s third lowest production month.
The EPA says it’s aware of the emissions and is increasing its sampling frequency and is still determining the source.
Lead contamination causes nerve damage and is especially damaging for children.