General Iron closer to fully reopening in Lincoln Park
A consultant hired by the city of Chicago recommends General Iron be allowed to resume car shredding after explosions in May prompted Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration to shut down the operation.
After the incident, General Iron’s parent company Reserve Management Group hired a firm to investigate the cause of the explosion and recommend fixes so it can reopen. The city hired its own consultant, Project Performance Group of Evanston, to review the plan, which said the company put appropriate safeguards in place.
Reserve Management Group “has implemented the appropriate controls intended to prevent a reoccurrence, and there is no reason to object to resumption of shredding operations,” Project Performance Group President Joseph Jaskulski wrote in a letter to the city’s law department this week.
Officially, the cause of the explosion is stated as “undetermined” by Exponent, the Dallas-based company advising Reserve Management Group. However, the cause of the explosion appears to be related to the release of a flammable gas in the shredder equipment, Jaskulski wrote in his letter to the city. His conclusions were based on Exponent’s findings and his own analysis.
The Chicago Department of Buildings, Department of Public Health and the Chicago Fire Department will have to inspect the site before it can reopen. The city has not provided a timeline for that process.
“The company has installed enhanced safety controls to their North Side shredding operation,” a Lightfoot spokeswoman said in a statement. “The city will next ensure they are being implemented properly and that the site meets all inspection requirements.”
The facility at 1909 N. Clifton Ave. was ordered to remain closed after the explosions because the city “determined that the site posed an immediate danger and constituted an imminent threat to the public.”
In June, the city allowed General Iron to partially reopen at its Lincoln Park location. But the metalshredding equipment was not allowed to operate.
Exponent recommended controls be put in place, including a combustible gas monitoring system that would trigger a shutdown before another explosion occurs.
The Lincoln Park operation is the source of numerous complaints from neighbors and the city issued dozens of citations for violations of pollution and public nuisance laws since late last year. Some neighbors have asked the city to keep the shredding operation shut down.
“Instead of shutting down serial polluters, we’re shutting down bars and nail salons for a second time,” said Lara Compton, whose Lincoln Park group, Clean the North Branch, has asked the city to keep General Iron closed at least during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It just doesn’t make sense.”
Reserve Management Group plans to move General Iron’s equipment to the Southeast Side, which has drawn protests from residents there who say the shredding operation will add more pollution in a community that already suffers from poor air quality.
After it was allowed to partially reopen June 29, the company said it was looking forward to getting city approval to resume full operations. In a statement Friday, the company said “we are ready and plan to open as soon as possible. All repairs and modifications have been completed.”