General Iron's regenerative thermal oxidizer
General Iron's regenerative thermal oxidizer.
Photo by Recycling Today Media Group staff

Former General Iron facility to be demolished

The former metal shredding and recycling facility located on Chicago's North Side has been slated for demo.

November 10, 2022

General Iron’s Lincoln Park scrap yard and auto shredding facility on Chicago’s North Side has been slated for demolition, reports Block Club Chicago

The demolition comes following the site’s January 2021 closure after years of health-related complaints from neighboring residents and an ongoing battle with local legislators. Other incidents at the site include a 2020 explosion within the facility’s metal shredding process, which led to the company receiving an $18,000 fine. This was followed by a scrap fire later that year.

General Iron’s parent company, Stow, Ohio-based Reserve Management Group, constructed a new metal shredding operation by the name of Southside Recycling on Chicago's South Side, but the Chicago Health Department refused to grant the final permit needed to operate at the site.  

The city did not issue the final permit for the new location after a health impact assessment found the scrap operation would have added to the neighborhood’s air pollution and risked bringing water and soil pollution, explosions, fires and noise to the surrounding area.

As previously reported by Recycling Today, the company installed a $2 million regenerative thermal oxidizer to its shredder in 2020, which is designed to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The move was in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s assertion that the company had the potential to emit VOCs in excess of the Title V major source threshold, though the company says it had not done so, nor did it operate close to its permitted levels. The RTO was relocated to the Southside Recycling site.  

Ald. Brian Hopkins called for the “permanent and immediate closure of [the] hazardous facility” in Lincoln Park.

Demolition of the General Iron site will be “carefully controlled and closely monitored,” Hopkins writes in an email update to his constituents. He notes the project will not repeat the mistakes from the 2020 implosion of a 400-foot smokestack at the Crawford Power Plant, which covered the Little Village neighborhood in dust.

Hopkins says the metal shredder at the General Iron facility already has been disassembled and removed, so only the structures and buildings remain.

“There will be no detonations, explosives or toppling of towers or support structures,” Hopkins says. “Instead, a slow and methodical, piece-by-piece removal will take place until the site is clear.”

Demolition crews also will be implementing strict dust-control measures and noise limitations, Block Club Chicago reports. In addition, trucks will be spaced at intervals to minimize their impact on traffic, and their tires will be washed before exiting the yard.

Hopkins has not named the contractor that will be tasked with the demolition but mentions it is locally owned and operated. WGN9 reports the demolition could start by the end of November.