Plata y Plomo in Pilsen

On Wednesday there will be a meeting with the US EPA hosted by the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization (PERRO) in the basement of the church at 1850 S Throop.

For the past decade PERRO has been pushing the EPA to investigate the emissions coming from the H Kramer smelting facility. From Wikipedia:

H. Kramer and Company is a brass smelting company located in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, United States. The company has come under pressure from local neighborhood residents and the Illinois EPA for lead pollution.

PERRO had early success in getting the company to install pollution controls. That has helped to prevent the facility from further polluting the neighborhood with the lead (plomo) required to smelt brass.

This meeting is about cleaning up the lead that was emitted by the facility over its 125-year history. That lead was carried by the wind and deposited throughout the neighborhood. The map shows where the lead levels are highest (Res 1) and… not as high (Res 3).


The Process The EPA will first sample the yards in the affected area with the approval of the property owners. The yards with elevated levels of lead will be dug up and replaced with unleaded dirt and sod at no cost to the owners!!! (plata)

As most have been made aware by the recent events in Flint, lead is extremely hazardous to children and pregnant women. In Chicago this problem is compounded by the lead in the paint of old apartments and the lead that can be present in your water when they replace the water mains.


I only became a regular member of PERRO two years ago when it started to become clear that many members of Pilsen Alliance weren’t sincere about their professed concerns for the community. That has not been the case with PERRO

Anyone can jump onto a cause for a year or two, especially when there is corporate or grant money available. But to stick with a cause that’s been largely ignored for over a decade with little to no recognition or money… that requires real concern and sincerity. The neighborhood should thank these members on Wednesday.