A Pilsen smelter has agreed to take steps to immediately reduce lead emissions from its plant after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed suit against the company earlier this week.
H. Kramer and Co. agreed in a preliminary injunction filed Friday to immediately reduce lead emissions from its plant. The company is required to do so by updating pollution control technology, further reducing production processes that involve lead and cleaning up lead-contaminated gravel at its site, among other actions.
Madigan filed the complaint in Cook County Circuit Court based on a referral from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency that showed Kramer's lead emissions from April 2010 exceeded federal air quality standards.
The IEPA had installed air monitors in and around the plant, including sites at Perez Elementary School and Juarez Community Academy.
The Tribune reported earlier this year that lead pollution exceeded health standards during a fifth of the days monitored last year and, on one day in December, spiked to more than 10 times higher than the federal limit.
Madigan's complaint alleges that the Kramer plant at 1345 W. 21st St. created a substantial danger to the environment and the public, including children attending schools nearby.
Studies show that even tiny amounts of lead ingested or inhaled can damage the brains of young children and trigger learning disabilities, aggression and criminal behavior later in life. Most scientists say there is no safe level of exposure.
Kramer's smelter, which has been melting scrap metal into brass and bronze ingots since the 1920s, remains one of the biggest industrial sources of lead in the Chicago area.
A representative from Kramer said company officials declined to comment.
Madigan's office said the company has already implemented some steps to decrease pollution, including eliminating the stack in the southwest corner of the facility, repairing and sealing significant holes in the roof, installing high-speed vertical doors to minimize emissions from the building and preventing lead-contaminated dust from being blown into the air.
In December, a judge will assess whether the company has complied with the provisions of the injunction.