January 25, 2019

Mayor Emanuel Continues To Strengthen Environmental Protections Targeting Bulk Material Handlers And Manganese

Updates to Bulk Materials Rules protect residents and hold polluters accountable

Mayor's Press Office 312.744.3334

CHICAGO - Today, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) implemented stronger rules governing industries to further reduce the harm to public health from air pollution, including manganese. Specifically, CDPH strengthened the City’s Bulk Materials Rules to enhance monitoring requirements for all bulk solid material facilities and establish new requirements for facilities that handle unpackaged manganese-bearing materials. The new rules further solidify Chicago’s place as a national leader in environmental protection. 

“While the Trump Administration refuses to address climate change and pollution, Chicago will continue to do everything we can to ensure our air, water and land are clean and safe for all residents,” said Mayor Emanuel. “By making our rules stronger, we are holding industry more accountable and better protecting our communities.” 

Today’s news follows Mayor Emanuel’s recent success banning new manganese-bearing facilities from opening and preventing current facilities from expanding. In addition, CDPH commissioned a study on manganese concentrations in soil which found numerous homes sampled were above screening levels. The results were later confirmed by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which has started planning for clean-up and soil remediation efforts in residential zones. 

“Manganese dust control measures are essential to keep our Chicago residents safe and healthy,” said CDPH Commissioner Julie Morita, M.D. “It is our top priority to protect all Chicagoans from pollution by ensuring our regulations meet the needs of our communities and reflect our commitment to environmental protection.” 

CDPH requires any facility that processes, handles on-site, transfers, loads, unloads, stockpiles or stores bulk solid materials to have fugitive dust monitors. Their placement must follow EPA guidelines and is subject to CDPH approval. According to the new rules, facilities are also required to submit monitoring data to CDPH every month. If the provided information is insufficient to adequately assess the health impacts, CDPH may require the facility to install and maintain other monitoring methods, including video recording and/or more filter-based monitoring sites. Further, when transport is by truck, the facility shall ensure that after being loaded truck trailers are immediately covered with a solid sliding cover, stackable cover or continuous tarp. 

“The new rules for companies that handle manganese are just another example of how powerful collective action can be,” said Alderman Susan Sadlowski Garza, 10th ward. “They are a result of our joint efforts with all Southeast Side communities and city leaders who are not afraid to step up and fight for a safe environment.”

Manganese is a naturally-occurring substance that is used to make steel. A small amount of it in the diet is important to stay healthy, but if inhaled at excess amounts it can be harmful to the brain. 

A record of environmental protections

These efforts build on Mayor Emanuel’s commitment to environmental protections:

  • Banning new petcoke, coke and coal facilities and prohibiting the expansion of facilities.
  • Requiring bulk material operators and other industries such as rock crushers to manage operations onsite to reduce offsite dust emissions primarily through ensuring a fugitive dust plan is in place.
  • Implementing a new fly dumping ordinance that holds accountable those who illegally leave waste on public or private property.
  • Initiating a new soil and proposed air sample study to investigate companies who may store manganese and the impact to residents’ health in the area and increasing scrutiny of companies that use manganese.
  • Banning new manganese-bearing material operations and preventing existing facilities from expanding.
  • Expanding CDPH’s environmental protection team, increasing the department’s capacity to inspect and fine polluters citywide. CDPH is adding ten additional staff members, a 37 percent increase in the team, to help ensure businesses across Chicago comply with the city’s environmental code.

To learn more visit our website www.cityofchicago.org/manganese.

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