Army Corps of Engineers Operating CDF Pollution Dump on the 10th Ward Lakefront Without a Permit
CHICAGO – Friends of the Parks (FOTP) has confirmed that the Army Corps of Engineers (Army Corps) is operating the Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) pollution dump without a valid Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IL EPA) water pollution control permit. The Army Corps’ previous National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit expired on May 31, 2021.
The CDF pollution dump sits on the shore of Lake Michigan at the confluence of the Calumet River, in between Calumet and Steelworkers Park. It was supposed to be capped and turned into parkland after its intended closure in 2022, but now the Army Corps' most recent proposal would expand the CDF 25-feet vertically, and extend its life for decades in Chicago’s 10th Ward, an Environmental Justice community.
FOTP has unveiled information via Freedom of Information Act requests, which show that the CDF is already leaching PCBs, mercury, arsenic, and lead into the water supply. Furthermore, toxins set out to dry after being dredged from the bottom of the river, can become airborne and contribute to air pollution in the neighborhood.
“To learn that the Illinois EPA is allowing the Army Corps to operate the CDF for weeks now, without an active water pollution control permit in the 10th Ward, an Environmental Justice community, is deeply concerning. This community is already overburdened with pollution and environmental battles, so the Army Corps' lack of transparency and urgency to ensure that the CDF pollution dump is operating legally and safely, is troubling and should sound the alarms for intervention from our public officials,” said Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks. “The lakefront is no place for a pollution dump, especially this lakefront facing serious lakefront erosion. Just last summer we saw the water rise to the top of the step of the Calumet Beach House. We would like to see the Army Corps follow protocol, but we’d also like to see them go back to the drawing board, and come up with a more suitable solution outside the 10th Ward or any EJ community.”
For decades, the Army Corps has continued to dump toxic dredge in this facility, which was originally intended to last for just 10 years. The Illinois General Assembly’s legislative intent at the outset was for the land to be turned over to the Chicago Park District, for the construction of a new park for the Southeast Side community after 10 years of operation. Currently, the land is owned by the park district, but they are complying with the City’s plans via the Chicago Department of Transportation’s commitment to participate as a cost share partner, and keep the CDF operating at that site for at least two more decades.
Friends of the Parks is a 45-year old non-profit park advocacy organization whose mission is to “inspire, equip, and mobilize a diverse Chicago to ensure an equitable park system for a healthy Chicago.”