One of the last remaining industrial sites in Lincoln Park is quickly earning the ire of Lincoln Park residents and elected officials after a series of explosions sparked an extra-alarm fire over the weekend. Firefighters responded to the emergency at the General Iron facility yesterday morning around 9:00 a.m. and had the fire under control by 11 a.m., the Tribune reports. At one point, a seven-story stack of old vehicles caught ablaze, sending dark clouds into the sky and thousands of gallons of contaminated water into the Chicago River, causing environmental and health concerns. According to DNAinfo, Alderman Brian Hopkins (2nd) and Alderman Michele Smith (43rd) are both concerned about the facility's potential hazardous nature and are calling for hazmat tests and even the closure of the site.
According to a statement sent to constituents, Ald. Hopkins has indicated that his office has reached out to the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District to conduct testing on water samples from the site. In a separate email announcement, Alderman Michele Smith stated that she believes that it is time to consider redevelopment of the site:
We must be assured that the incident does not pose an immediate health danger to our constituents and neighbors and whether continued operation of this facility should be permitted. That is why 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins and I are calling for a full investigation of the facility and the incident, including determining whether toxins were released into the air or the Chicago River as a result of the fire and explosions, and whether the plant is in compliance with applicable environmental and safety regulations.
Moreover, with the relocation of Finkl Steel, this site is the last piece of heavy industry in an area that has moved to other uses. It is becoming apparent that this sort of use is out of step with the direction of our community.
Alderman Hopkins and I will be working together on future uses of the area with sensitivity to the communities bordering this site and the former Finkl Steel plant.
It's no secret that the large spread at and around the Finkl steel facility is undergoing some major changes. And Goose Island, a historically industrial area, is also quickly transforming into a major tech office destination. Will the General Iron facility be next? If aldermen Hopkins and Smith have anything to do with it, then it may follow in the footsteps of Finkl, Lakin, Gutmann and Goose Island.
·Fire out at North Side scrap yard [Tribune]
·After Explosions at Extra-Alarm Scrap Yard Fire, Ald. Calls for Its Closure [DNAinfo]
·Previous Lincoln Park coverage [Curbed Chicago]