MEDIA ADVISORY AND DAYBOOK ITEM FOR TUESDAY, JUNE 28, 2022

Tuesday, June 28, 2022, 3:06 PM

Contact:

Alfredo Romo, N4EJ, romoalfredo22@gmail.com

Anthony Moser, N4EJ, anthony.moser@gmail.com

Carlos Enriquez,CEJN, carlos@setaskforce.org 815-342-5717

Ivan Moreno, NRDC, imoreno@nrdc.org, 773-799-6455

Chicago’s McKinley Park Residents to Host Their Own Public Hearing Responding to $500 Million Dollar City Contract Bid from Controversial Asphalt Plant

TUESDAY, McKinley Park residents and grassroots organizations will hold a public hearing on the controversial asphalt plant’s bid for a half billion dollar contract to provide the city of Chicago with asphalt cooked across the street from the neighborhood park, near homes and schools.

Residents say the bidding process neglects to consider the health of residents, the climate impacts of producing 4 million tons of asphalt, or the environmental record of the contractors – MAT Asphalt is currently without an operating permit, has multiple pending citations, and is suing the city to overturn fines for air pollution.

While residents are inviting public officials to attend the public hearing, the event is entirely being organized by residents.

In March, seven city council members and dozens of environmental groups requested a city-sponsored hearing, along with emissions estimates and a compliance review. The Dept of Procurement Services declined, saying the city expects its contractors to be responsible partners. City resource guides for contractors do not mention environmental compliance.

Chicago’s Black and brown communities are overburdened with pollution that severely contaminates air, soil and water. Residents say that, too often, city government ignores the voice of those most impacted, instead investing millions in false solutions that fail to address the environmental racism driving the creation of sacrifice zones.

Residents will call on the Lightfoot administration to use existing authority, consistent with government standards and her recently released Climate Action Plan before considering this half a billion dollar contract for asphalt.

When: Tuesday, June 28, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. Central Time

Where: Corner of Damen and Pershing at McKinley Park Streaming: facebook.com/n4ejchicago

Who:

• Moderator: Alfredo Romo, Executive Director of Neighbors for Environmental Justice

• Anthony Mose, Neighbors for Environmental Justice

• Kim Wasserman, Executive Director of Little Village Environmental Organization

• Local McKinley Park residents impacted by pollution

Background:

MAT Asphalt has submitted a $500,000,000 bid to supply the whole city of Chicago with more than 4 million tons of asphalt over the next five years. They have done this despite significant concerns over the company's history and the public health of its neighbors, and despite the fact that they do not have an operating permit from the Illinois EPA.

MAT Asphalt has racked up hundreds of complaints and multiple citations just producing enough asphalt for their own construction contracts. If they start making enough to supply the whole city, McKinley Park won't have a breath of clean air for the next five years.

Not only does MAT Asphalt have pending court dates for previous violations, they're currently suing the city to overturn their fines. They're suing the city at the same time they want a half a billion dollar contract to produce millions of tons of asphalt across from one of the city's biggest parks, next to schools and homes. The city must take into account the voice of the people whose health could be in harm's way before making this decision.

The Department of Planning and Development described MAT's location as "strategic, because of the work they do for the city." Now we know why. Just last year that same DPD approved an affordable housing project next door to MAT Asphalt. It is unacceptable that the City of Chicago would even consider turning around and giving them a half a billion dollar contract, guaranteeing that the worst days of pollution we've experienced would become the new normal for McKinley Park.

Per the RFQ, Chief Procurement Officer Aileen Velazquez has "the right to reject any and all bids and to disregard any informalities in a bid or the bidding process, when in his/her opinion the best interest of the City will be served by such action."

The History In March of 2018, residents of McKinley Park learned that a new hot-mix asphalt plant, MAT Asphalt, had been built across the street from the park. As the satellite photo shows, the plant is less than 1000 feet from schools and homes. It’s owned by Michael A Tadin Jr, a city contractor whose father Michael Tadin Sr was prominent in the Hired Trucking scandal under Mayor Daley.

There were zero public meetings or public notice of any kind from any of our elected officials or regulatory agencies: not our alderman, not the Illinois EPA, not the Chicago Department of Public Health.

A satellite photo of MAT Asphalt shows how close it is to homes and schools. (Google Maps)

MAT Asphalt is in the 12th ward. City emails show 12th ward Alderman George Cardenas was an early supporter of the project. At the time he chaired the Health and Environmental Protection Committee (now the “Committee on Environment and Energy”). Cardenas received tens of thousands of dollars in donations from the owners of the plant, their connected companies and business partners. He never warned his constituents or asked for public input, and he later denied knowing about it, despite helping to rezone an adjacent property to make it possible. In the face of a growing outcry from his constituents, Cardenas has continued to argue that the plant cannot be moved or shut down, and posted a pro-asphalt FAQ on the 12th Ward website plagiarized from industry sources.

Now let’s talk about the IEPA. Internal emails show the Illinois EPA “dropped the ball” on the Environmental Justice Review process that was supposed to happen before the plant was built.

The construction permit issued by the IEPA allowed MAT Asphalt to operate for one year from the date of initial startup: July 2nd, 2018. As expected, MAT applied for a long term permit. In February 2019, their application was initially rejected as incomplete because they had failed to include all of their sources of pollution, and if properly counted, the plant would qualify as a major source of pollution, requiring it to be regulated by the federal EPA. The same Notice of Incompleteness also observes that plant operators had installed additional equipment without seeking permits (they were later cited for this by the city).

MAT Asphalt responded that they had simply miscalculated. The IEPA allowed them to revise their numbers and resubmit their application. In July 2019 their one year construction permit expired; the IEPA chose to let them keep operating.

In the meantime, residents were filing complaints with the IEPA and the Chicago Department of Public Health about the foul odors, the giant plumes of smoke, and the constant flow of trucks through neighborhood streets.

Complaint from National Latino Education Institute, 2019 Aug 29IEPA investigators dismissed the complaints as being “filed for fun,” while Chicago Department of Public Health inspectors conducted most inspections in the afternoon after the plant was done operating. At no point did any regulatory agency actually measure the emissions of the plant to see if they were complying with their permit. Of the six types of pollution restricted in their (expired) permit, four have still never been measured by anyone.

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