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Residents in Little Village worry about pollution from Hellmann's plant expansion

In May, the Chicago City Council approved an expansion to the Hellmann’s plant in Little Village. Ald. Ricardo Munoz (22nd) said Hellmann’s parent company, Unilever, plans to donate land to a nearby school, Zapata Elementary.

“There’s some significant community benefits,” said Munoz. “As a result of the 40 to 60 jobs being created.”

But it’s the plant’s proximity to the elementary school that worries Kimberly Wasserman. She’s with the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization. She’s concerned about the additional pollution that could come with extra diesel trucks traveling through the neighborhood. Wasserman said there’s another option, if Unilever wants to take it on.

“Changing the dirty diesel to a system that doesn’t pollute,” said Wasserman, who noted other area companies have retrofitted their vehicles. “Or ones that pollute very little.”

There’s no word on whether Unilever will do that. Along with Hellmann’s, Ben & Jerry’s, Dove and Lipton among the company’s brands. Unilever did not respond to requests for comment.

An air quality monitor to test pollution levels was set up in the area for a two-week period in September. The results will be ready in January.

Follow WBEZ reporter Yolanda Perdomo on Twitter @yolandanews 

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