An 800-page environmental assessment report released by the city of Chicago late Friday revealed that soil contamination with mercury and other compounds was found on the Brighton Park property where the migrant base camp is being built.
The site, located near West 38th Street and Southern California Avenue, will temporarily host up to 2,000 immigrants as part of the city’s effort to reduce the number of people sleeping at airports and police stations as winter approaches. It is planned to accommodate.
Brighton Park residents and environmentalists have opposed the site, citing its location and environmental concerns.
According to a statement from the city, mercury found in the soil that exceeded environmental standards has been removed and disposed of. The report states that the soil surrounding the sample area where mercury was found was excavated and disposed of.
Other parts of the site where semi-volatile compounds were found will also be addressed, the statement said.
Below is part of the statement from Mayor Brandon Johnson’s office.
“According to the report, soil with mercury levels was identified in one location, removed and properly disposed of in an off-site landfill. Similarly, soil with high levels of semi-volatile compounds was found in another location. The AIS has been identified at the site and will be removed and disposed of off-site.Finally, to address residual contamination of topsoil typical of urban areas, the AIS will be constructed with a minimum thickness of engineered barrier throughout the site. We directed that 6 inches of clean crushed stone be placed. The engineered barrier will be inspected periodically to ensure that the minimum thickness is maintained.
Due to limited soil removal and installation and barrier maintenance, the site can be safely used as temporary housing. ”
Construction work at the site accelerated this week. It comes less than three months after the city signed a $29 million contract with GardaWorld to build temporary structures. The city’s move to house migrants in base camps is aimed at keeping migrants away from sleeping on airport floors and outside Chicago police stations as winter approaches and outside temperatures drop.
As of Friday, a large tent-like structure had been erected at the site. Generators and other heavy equipment, including Semis hauling lumber, were seen in what was once an empty lot. Earlier this week, NBC 5 Investigates watched as truck after truck brought gravel to the site and pavers walked back and forth over the newly laid surface.
NBC 5 Investigates asked Mayor Johnson several times on Friday to provide updates on the site, but he did not respond to our series of questions.
At a press conference earlier this week, Mayor Brandon Johnson rejected criticism that his administration lacks transparency in its response to immigration, saying: “I think the idea that there is a lack of information or transparency is false. I have told the truth…and I will always tell the truth.”
When NBC 5 Investigates asked Johnson on Tuesday to confirm what specific contaminants were found at the scene, Johnson said the “evaluation is ongoing” and that “a full report will be forthcoming.” The document will be submitted by the end of the week.”
When pressed further on the city’s approach to moving forward without doing an environmental assessment, Johnson said, “I hear your question, why are we still moving forward? Because that’s what I… It’s a process that we’ve managed from the beginning,” Johnson said.
NBC 5 Investigates records show the site was once used as a zinc smelter and was part of a railroad yard.
Weekend, Aldo. Julia Ramirez, whose district includes the site, posted a letter on social media, calling out “inappropriate communication” and “lack of transparency on the part of the city” regarding the site, and her office saying, “We were aware that toxic metals were present,” he added. soil” and remediation “was being done.”
Mr. Johnson did not respond to questions about that Friday.