Metro East groups call for Madison fire investigation

MADISON — Two Metro East groups are calling for an investigation into Wednesday’s fire at the Interco Trading facility, a “metaltronics” recycler, in Madison.

The fire broke out at 10 a.m. Wednesday. A worker was burned and a firefighter was treated due to smoke from the blaze, which also prompted residents within a mile of the facility to shelter in place for 24 hours.

Representatives from the United Congregations of Metro East and the Sierra Club Illinois said the facility recycles a number of non-ferrous metals, including lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries, and burning the batteries can release a a number of toxic substances. They said that in March 2020, the company was cited for violating the Clean Air and Clean Water Act.

“Once again, the Metro East community is facing a potential environmental and public health disaster as a result of decades of injustice and a lack of care for our communities,” said Zach Chike, community development pastor. and outreach to youth from the City of Joy Fellowship. .

“While we are still working to support families who have been displaced and businesses that have been destroyed due to the recent devastating floods in the Eastern Metropolitan Area, we now face another crisis,” Chike said. “I am concerned for the safety of my community given the potential effects the toxic chemicals released in the fire will have on our health and environment.

JD Dixon, environmental justice organizer with United Congregations of Metro East, said the group wants the incident investigated.

“In addition, nearby residents should be checked to ensure they are not facing health issues as a result of the fire at Interco, the industrial recycling facility,” Dixon said.

Sonya Lunder, senior toxics adviser at the Sierra Club, said the group was “deeply concerned” to see repeated fires at the facility.

“Illinois must make an effort to ensure that metal recyclers do not repeatedly threaten the health of their neighbors or force them out of environmental justice communities,” Lunder said. “Some states have passed cumulative impact laws that would prevent new permits for highly polluting industries from expanding, rebuilding, or relocating to a heavily impacted environmental justice community. As a climate justice leader , Illinois should do the same.”

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