More than a hundred community members gathered at the town hall of Hegewisch in the 10th Ward Tuesday night to rally against a recent threat to the city-wide moratorium on landfills.
10th Ward Ald. John Pope, and organizers Phyllis Palmer and Cheryl Johnson, called on residents to pressure state legislators to pass HB3881, a bill that could keep landfills outside of the city until 2025.
The bill would prohibit the creation or expansion of landfills within a county exceeding two million residents. The state Senate passed the measure 36 to 17, with one voting present. Before the session ends next Thursday, the house will vote on the amended version of the bill.
The meeting was held in response to a flurry of developments over the last few months, including a proposal by 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Beale to lift the moratorium.
The catalyst came in February when waste management company Land and Lakes filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago to annex its property containing the inactive portion of its Riverbend landfill to Dolton County.
If the company wins it will most likely seek to reopen the landfill.
Longtime Dolton resident Acie Cargill lives only half a mile away from the Riverbend landfill and is not happy with the prospect of the mountain of garbage he passes daily expanding.
“Why put it in an area where there are half a million people surrounding it?” says Cargill. “It just stinks period.”
Beyond the often strong smell, the community has raised serious health and environmental concerns over the proximity of homes and schools to the landfills and industrial plants.
“We always have to keep our eyes and ears open down here,” says organizer Johnson, the daughter of well-known Altgeld Garden’s organizer Hazel Johnson, “Some kind of negative development is always brought down here…It is a disrespect to hours of labor put towards enacting the moratorium which has been in place 30 years.”
In 2005 Waste Management lobbied City Council to reopen the CID landfill adjacent to Hegewisch. The company offered the City of Chicago compensation to allow them to operate the landfill until it reached capacity.
Under pressure from lobbyists and community members, the City Council rejected the offer and extended the ban to 2025. Previously, the moratorium had to be renewed by the city every two years since its enactment in 1983.
As a side note, the event was coordinated by Resolute Consulting, an influential Chicago-based media company, on behalf of Republic Waste Services, one of the largest garbage companies in the state, according to a knowledgeable source in the waste industry.