Don’t Sacrifice Chicago’s Southeast Side for a Mine

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The proposed Invert mining project shows that Chicago is a tale of two cities.

SH Bell Manganese Southeast Side

Shiny new offices and condominiums are springing up in Chicago’s West Loop, South Loop and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, while on the southeast side, we fight to prevent a real mine from exploding.

It’s ridiculous that a community that continues to struggle with the toxic industry that brushes past us at every turn – sometimes literally next to our homes – should also struggle with a project that seems to be coming out of the the Lord of the Rings.

The proposed Invert mining project would be located in a densely populated area across from George Washington High School. This would lead to explosions, likely of dust from both this project and other polluters that have left toxic metals in the ground over the years. It could be one of the most dangerous projects proposed for the southeast side in decades.

Despite all the objections from residents and the objectively absurd nature of locating a mine in the nation’s third most populous city, the industry is pushing ahead with the idea.

Chicago is definitely a story of two cities: there is a Chicago that prospers and another that is sacrificed.

The pandemic has only confirmed how race is still a major factor in the health risks Chicagoans face on a daily basis. Communities like those on the southeast side want fairness when it comes to deciding the future of their neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, projects like these will continue to be reviewed until Chicago leaders send a strong message that there are no sacrifice areas in our city. We desperately need a citywide policy that tackles disparities and ends racist zoning and land use laws.

The Southeast Siders and other environmental justice communities need reassurance that projects like the Invert Mine will never happen in Chicago and that the city’s zoning laws will actually protect our health and keep us moving forward.

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