Pilsen, Little Village Residents Sue Over Coal Plant Pollution

CHICAGO (CBS) — Residents of the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods have filed class-action lawsuits against two coal-fired power plants.

As WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports, the lawsuits claim the noxious emissions from the Fisk plant, at 1111 W. Cermak Rd., and the Crawford plant, at 3501 S. Pulaski Rd., are damaging the residents’ health and their homes.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s David Roe reports

The suits, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, claim that sulfur dioxide is emitted into both neighborhoods.

The suits claim that sulfur dioxide is emitted into the Little Village and Pilsen neighborhoods, which has been noted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The emissions create a very heavy black or white powder that requires constant cleaning and makes residents prisoners in their homes, precluding them from full use and enjoyment of their properties, the suit said. Some of the chemicals generated also are extra hazardous and are known carcinogens.

The suit claims negligence, trespass, and strict liability. It seeks a class-action determination, damages, post-judgment interest of 12 percent until paid, and attorney fees, court costs.

A representative of Midwest Generation, LLC, which owns both the Fisk and Crawford plants, was not available for comment Tuesday evening.

In May 2011, eight Greenpeace activists climbed a 450-foot smokestack at the Fisk plant, and eight others rappelled from the Pulaski Road Bridge near the Crawford plant and dangled above the Chicago River to prevent a coal barge from passing.

The demonstrators were arrested, but the protests drew attention to the health issues created by the coal plants.

Both actions were set to coincide with a U.S. EPA public hearing on increased pollution controls from coal-burning plants.

In December, demonstrators took their protest to Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office at City Hall, demanding the passage of a clean power ordinance that would force the plants to close.

Emanuel and a majority of aldermen have expressed support for the ordinance, but Kimberly Wasserman, director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, said at the protest that the ordinance still hasn’t received a City Council hearing.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

  • Afro

    Shut the plants down and let em freeze to death, the plants were there before their sorry ass so sue their self for moving there. and another thing, if they feel it isn’t safe, well move dumb ass, if you’re stupid enough to sit there and breath the sh!t maybe you should be dead. The protestors with all this spare time they have need to get jobs and do something productive instead of looking for shiit to b!tch about all the dam time. Get off your ass and go shovel some coal!

  • Kevin

    I find that the statement, “emissions create a very heavy black or white powder that requires constant cleaning and makes residents prisoners in their homes, precluding them from full use and enjoyment of their properties”, to be rather innaccurate. I live less than a mile from the Fisk generating station in Pilsen. I leave my windows open all summer and have no more or less grime and grit than I did when I lived in in other parts of the city. The statement smacks of “sensationalism”.
    There is next to nothing that anybody could do to remove either power plant in that area. To do so would increase the generating strain on other plants and cause electricity prices to rise.
    The other problem that NEVER gets addressed is that Pilsen and Little Village is ringed on all four sides by either a major expressway and/or a major rail line. Both of these contribute major levels of prticulate and othe types of pollution. Another contribution to the pollution in Pilsen comes from the metals smelter to the east of Fisk. They pump high levels of pollution into the area, including heavy metals.
    The protestors offer no other viable alternative to replace the generating capacity of both or either plant. They have a very narrow single minded approach to the issue. No solutions ar beig brought to the table. Much like other protestors. Mob rule.
    Wind and/or solar is not a significant replacement for the energy that can be released from coal or the atom.

  • MC

    Wow, how could people be so ignorant.? Maybe the residents around the plants don’t move out because that is their community or they can’t afford to move out.
    You might have had grime at your last place of residence but it was likely dirt. in these neighborhoods, it’s likely heavy metals mixed with dirt. The Fisk plant does not make energy for the state of Illinois,, they sell it to other states . Yes there are other pollution sources in the area, but the coal plants are the worst polluters and they ave to clean up or shut down! They have been given a free pass to pollute for too long and that’s Enough. Why is fighting for the right to breathe
    clean air a bad thing? It’s a human right that should be protected.

    • Afro

      MC all they have to do is move. Anyone can do it and if they all get together and share the cost most of them can be back in mexico before midnight tonight.

    • Kevin

      It is not true that Fisk sells all of their power to “other states”. It is a lie that has be perpetrated by the anti-Fisk activists. A large percentage of that power is used in the Pilsen/Little Village area. In June of ’05 a large transformer at Fisk blew up. It plunged the entire area into darkeness. The transformers at Fisk are directly connected to the plant.
      I work in the environmental testing services industry. I had wipings of the dust in my house tested. They came back as ND (Non Detect) for Pb, Mg and Cd. Meaning that they were below the threshold of detection.
      So what is your solution to a replacement for both power plants?
      Much like any protesters, the anti-Fisk protestors complain and whine about the problem and stamp their little feet while offering no real solution to the problem while making life inconvinent and annoying for the rest of us.

  • James

    This is a money grab by browns just like blacks do.

  • C

    You guys are a bunch of Racist pigs.

  • http://ohiocitizen.org/?p=11545 Pilsen, Little Village Residents Sue Over Coal Plant Pollution « Ohio Citizen Action

    […] Read the whole story  January 19th, 2012 | Tags: EPA | Category: Coal […]

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