At the General Iron Industries site along the North Branch of the Chicago River ᴄʟᴏsᴇ to Lincoln Park, metal crackles and shrieks. In an effort to prevent the ensuing dust from blowing away, water is sprayed down on the area as an auto shredder flattens vehicles, appliances, rebar, and beams. The neighbors claim that their patios are covered with metallic dust and that their cars are covered in oily films. The water sprays were useless. There are also gas tank explosions and files, like the one that occurred three years ago and released large amounts of ominous smoke into the atmosphere.
Since the 1970s, General Iron has operated a shredder business in this location; in 2001, a larger shredder replaced two smaller ones. This new shredder has received two citations from the US Environmental Protection Agency for clean air violations. Locally elected alderman recently opted to prolong an exemption given to the facility in 2016 that lets the shredder run from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. three hours a day in excess of what is typically allowed, despite this and neighborhood outcry.
Activists struggled in 2014 to remove enormous mounds of petroleum coke, a by-product of oil refining, from their neighborhood. They were successful in convincing the oil facilities to transport the petcoke, but two years later, the locals are ғɪɢʜᴛing manganese, a ᴅᴇᴀᴅly neurotoxin found in their oil and air. Residents of the Southeast Side are also combating additional new and proposed neighboring pollution sources, including a cement mill, asphalt recycling facilities, and zinc recycling, to mention a few. The shredder can now be added to their list.
Shredders have “the real potential to be a major pollution source,” according to Tom Cahill, an emeritus professor of physics and atmospheric science at the University of California, Davis who has stuᴅɪᴇᴅ airborne particulates for decades. Recycling materials that would otherwise end up in a landfill may sound like a good idea. Cities and organizations should check what comes out of each shredder to make sure it isn’t a harmful problem for the locals.
Auto fluff is a dusty mixture of plastics, foam, textiles, rubber, and glass from cars that can get airborne after a car is crushed and can also be polluted with rust, grime, and a variety of fluids. Untreated auto fluff is regarded as hazardous waste in California, and this past summer, state officials recommended requiring metal shredders that process autos to obtain hazardous waste permits.
Watch the amazing video below to witness the extremely ᴅᴀɴɢᴇʀᴏᴜs shredding of a bus, the destruction of a car for metal recycling, and the crushing of all machines.
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Video resource: QQ Machinery