Mar 4, 2013
The City of Chicago wants to sell 105 city-owned lots to Norfolk Southern railroad for the fire-sale price of 1.1 million dollars. The railroad plans to use these lots to expand their yard in the impoverished Englewood neighborhood on the city’s south side. The proposed yard will move containers between trains and trucks, and will spew air pollution into a poor neighborhood that already has extremely high rates of asthma and lead poisoning.
Some Englewood residents and environmental groups are demanding that the deal be delayed until the company addresses their health and safety demands. These include putting particulate filters on all the diesel engines that will be operating at the site, traffic planning, air filters in local schools and daycare centers, and regular testing of neighborhood children for lead poisoning.
But the Chairman of the city council committee charged with approving the deal said he has no intention of slowing down the process. And Norfolk Southern has promised to meet with area residents, but it’s making no promises either. The company spokesman said the project is critical for the city and for Norfolk Southern to “increase the efficiency of our inter-modal operations in Chicago.”
The company and the city council couldn’t be clearer: they’ll do whatever it takes to make business more efficient, in other words more profitable. And the health of poor children be damned!