Environmental groups join protesters of metal scrapping plant with one-day hunger strike

CHICAGO — Environmental groups are joining four protesters who have been on a hunger strike against a metal scrapping plant that recently moved from Lincoln Park to Hegewisch.

On Monday was the 14th day protestor Jade Mazon has gone without food.

In December, General Iron closed its Lincoln Park location after years of complaints from residents. The metal scrapping company, which sold to Reserve Management Group in 2019, is now rebranded as Southside Recycling and moved to Hegewisch.

“That is typical of the history of my community,” Mazon said. “We’ve been dumped on anything unacceptable for a white and affluent neighborhood is send it to the Southeast Side they don’t matter, they don’t have the power, the voice, they expected us to roll over, but we’re not.”

The owners plan to operation across the street from George Washington High School and a residential neighborhood off 116th Street. The plant, which plans to open next month, will operate next to two existing scrap metal facilities owned by the same group.

Congresswoman Robin Kelly, along with U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth and Dick Durbin, are now asking federal health officials to test the air for metals and harmful contaminants. They’re concerned about a potential public health threat in an area that already suffers from poor air quality.

“The Feds are looking at environmental racism on the city’s South Side,” Kelly said. “I don’t think anything is going to be done until we get the answers to these questions.”

Reserve Management Group said it’s new facility would be the nation’s cleanest metal shredding plant, saying risk levels for pollutants were well below identified limits.

On Monday, several environment groups around the city supported those already on a hunger strike with a one-day fast.

A company spokesperson sent the following statement in regards to the hunger strike.

“We regret that individuals are choosing to engage in activities that we believe is unwarranted by the circumstances and we strongly urge them not to put their health at risk or encourage others to do so.”

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