The facility relocated indigenous Chicago’s well-off North next to its working-class southeast Side, igniting a controversy marked by race, class and politics.


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Peggy Salazar, a longtime resident of Chicago’s southeast Side, has for years fought pollution and also environmental troubles in her community.

Chavez join the win in part for an individual reasons. She thought of her maternal grandfather, who encountered pollution on the south east Side as soon as he immigrant from Mexico, and also her mother, who was raised roughly it.

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As a girl, she marveled at how the north Side, through its to run trails follow me the Chicago River and also views of the city skyline from Lake Michigan’s shoreline, contrasted v Southeast’s polluted Calumet River. An area known as the Calumet industrial Corridor consists of at the very least 80 heavy manufacturing sites — chemical factories, plastic manufacturers, repaint companies, landfills, recycling and also waste administration plants, railways.

Protesters involved with passion and zeal. Also when a medical team recommend hunger strikers come quit together their activity entered a fifth week, Chavez voted to push on.

“I to be at peace,” the 27-year-old pre-med student said, “with perhaps dying because that this.”


‘Fugitive dust’ in homes

There’s a location on the south-east Side’s shore whereby Olga Bautista can virtually forget around the factories.

She hopped in she SUV on a warm day and also drove east on south Avenue O come Calumet Park, an expansive recreation area along Lake Michigan. The wind played in she hair as she stood near the water’s edge. But even this oasis is no longer untouched. A grainy black color substance darkened the tide licking the shore. That left slim rows that residue ~ above the wet sand.

Bautista studied the substance, then looked toward the mills, warehouses and smokestacks in the distance. A worried look flashed across her face. Her young daughter was in the water taking a swim lesson.


For much more than a century, this section of the city was house to the an effective but dirty steel mills that helped build America. As U.S. Steel and other industry titans faded away in the at an early stage 1990s, residents hoped the pollution they had withstood would likewise fade. However officials simply enabled in much more industry, even as scientific evidence of the an unfavorable health effects ended up being clear.

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Two years ago, a brand-new York college study confirmed the irreversible repercussions. The analysis examined air quality, exposure to toxic contamination and access to healthy food by census tracts, and also race, income and also unemployment. Researchers found a 30-year space in life expectancy between two neighborhoods on Chicago’s North and also South sides — the largest disparity that the country’s 500 biggest cities.

When Salazar relocated to south-east in 1983, into a tiny house with a manicured yard, she knew mass open-air storage framework were just a couple of blocks away. “I didn’t think castle would influence me.”