City of Chicago, General Iron reach agreement on the company’s relocation
A concept drawing of General Iron's enclosed auto shredder to be installed at its new yard on Chicago's south side.

City of Chicago, General Iron reach agreement on the company’s relocation

General Iron to decommission its yard on the north side of Chicago.

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September 12, 2019

The administration of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, working with Alderman Brian Hopkins and Alderman Susan Sadlowski-Garza, has provided an update on its efforts to work with scrap processor and auto shredder operator General Iron Industries Inc. regarding operations at its existing facility at 1909 North Clifton Ave., which will cease operations in 2020. In 2021, Reserve Management Group (RMG), Cleveland, will relocate the business to a new facility to be developed at that company’s existing location on Chicago’s south side.

“The agreement reached this week with General Iron will make way for an exit plan that will ensure the company continues to meet all regulatory standards and prioritizes protecting public health and the environment while it winds down operations at its north side facility,” according to a press release issued by the Lightfoot administration.

The agreement is designed to increase transparency for the community and all stakeholders, establish clear expectations for the parties involved and set the stage for the transition from the company’s current site to a new and expanded metal recycling plant in 2021, the news release states.

“The city’s new agreement with General Iron will ensure the company meets all applicable environmental regulations and operating requirements under its current permit and will provide a clear timeline for its eventual relocation,” says corporation counsel Mark Flessner.

The new agreement lays out a series of additional requirements for General Iron to fulfill to ensure a safe and manageable relocation and to maintain its operating agreement with the city. First, General Iron must continue to adhere to all applicable legal and environmental requirements. Second, the company must cease all metal recycling operations by Dec. 31, 2020, and post signage informing the public of the closure near the plant’s entrances at least one month prior to ceasing operations. Finally, effective immediately, the company must provide traffic control to mitigate congestion during rush hour and manage truck congestion so as not to impede neighboring businesses.

“I accept the plan developed by both the city and General Iron to ensure my community and all stakeholders have a clear path forward on the decommissioning of the facility next year,” says Alderman Brian Hopkins, 2nd Ward. “This agreement provides our community a clearer understanding of the plan for the company’s transition, takes appropriate action to address the significant traffic congestion issues caused near the facility and will allow us to look ahead to focus on the priorities of the North Branch Corridor and the 2nd Ward.”

As part of its move to a new south side facility, the company will adopt new environmental features at its new recycling facility, which will feature an enclosed auto shredder equipped with suction hood, high- efficiency filters, solar panels and air-monitoring technologies. The move also is expected to create new jobs for the community and to make way for apprenticeship opportunities.

“After working alongside the city and General Iron to carefully review the company’s proposal, we are confident in the current plans to protect the environmental health of our community while allowing additional jobs for our residents,” says Alderman Susan Sadlowski-Garza, 10th Ward. “I commend the city of Chicago for taking the initiative to broker this agreement that will give all parties even greater assurance that the company will exhaust all environmental measures as part of its relocation and expansion to the 10th Ward.”

The company has taken steps to bolster its environmental practices and facility features by adding new equipment, including the first regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) and scrubber at a Chicago recycling facility in 2019. These features will be transferred to and placed into operation at the new site.

“We are grateful for the mayor and her team’s leadership in forging an appropriate compromise to support the continuity of the critical service that General Iron has performed for more than a century,” says Adam Labkon, vice president of General Iron. “We are excited that this new venture, led by RMG, will continue providing more than 100 jobs and critical metal recycling services.”

General Iron and RMG have a plan that will allow RMG to acquire all business and assets of General Iron at its Lincoln Park site. Both companies entered into a strategic agreement in July that will relocate the facility to its new location on the south side.

“We appreciate the city’s assistance in helping us to move forward with building a new, state-of-the-art facility to complement RMG’s existing recycling operations on the city’s south side,” says Steve Joseph, president of RMG. “We expect to create nearly 800 on- and off-site construction jobs, and we are committed to protecting the environment and public health and safety as the business transitions from the north side to our longtime southside home.”

To facilitate a productive partnership and continued cooperation, the city and General Iron have committed to an ongoing process allowing the parties to resolve issues or concerns during the transition, the press release notes.