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Pilson smelter site cleanup completed

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Gina McCarthy disclosed that EPA has finished cleaning up Loewenthal Metals, a former lead smelter site in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. In response to community concerns, EPA removed high concentrations of lead in the soil to ensure that the property is safe for residential use in the future.

Last June, EPA began the removal of 4,800 tons of contaminated soil and debris from the Loewenthal site. Now, EPA revealed that the contaminated soil has been replaced with clean soil that is seeded to prevent erosion.

“Over the past couple of years PERRO has developed a good working relationship with the U.S. EPA,” said Jerry Mead-Lucero, Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO). “We have regular meetings with EPA staff to stay on top of multiple sites of concern in the community. The increased cooperation between EPA and PERRO has already resulted in the remediation of contaminated sites in the neighborhood and we expect more sites to be addressed in the near future.”

Loewenthal Metals is a half-acre site in a largely residential part of Chicago. Historical records indicate that the facility operated as a lead and zinc smelter, as well as a scrap metal dealer during the 1940s. In December 2011, the Illinois EPA referred the site to U.S. EPA for potential cleanup. After obtaining a warrant to access the site, EPA began sampling soil for lead in November 2012 and started the cleanup last June.