Pilsen plant agrees to reduce lead emissions

Environmental group says work isn’t done

February 1, 2013

A copper smelting plant in Pilsen that’s reportedly been a hot spot for lead emissions has reached a settlement with the government.

H. Kramer & Co. will spend $3 million on filters and other measures to reduce emissions. The company also will pay a $35,000 fine, plus $40,000 to help local school buses reduce diesel emissions.  

The company reached a settlement Thursday with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Illinois.

“This settlement will protect Pilsen residents from lead emissions from the H. Kramer foundry and prevent future violations of the Clean Air Act,” said EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman in a statement. “Exposure to lead can impair the ability of children to learn.”

Dorian Breuer, a member of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, said his group has been fighting pollution at the foundry for 9 years, and their work isn’t done.

“I think a lot of work on our part would still be in place to ensure the equipment is properly maintained, that the EPA properly monitors," Breuer said. "But if that equipment is actually installed and maintained properly, this is a major victory for the community.” 

Tom Wiener, the attorney for H. Kramer, said the company denies the non-compliance allegations, and is planning to start installing the equipment this year.

The proposed settlement is subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval.