Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Special Screening of "Dirty Business" Well Attended

The February 10th screening of the "Dirty Business of Coal" was well attended in spite of the blowing snow and cold temperature.  Additional seating had to be added once it was apparent that the turnout was going to be greater than anticipated.

Peter Bull,  an award winning writer/producer/director of film and TV documentaries and director of the film,  joined for the evening all the way  from New York. Following the movie, Peter gave a brief presentation about his motivation for making the documentary and why there is no such thing as "clean coal".  He also fielded questions about the film and the issue.

L - R:  Linda Ruxton- Field Team Member, Tom Shepherd - Southeast Environmental Task Force, Juan Martinez - Field Team, Peter Bull - Director

Kevin Kuhn, Field Team Member, mans the sign-in sheets.

Some of the people that made it happen: Sierra Club, G2G Youth Group, The New !0thWard Service Organization, Eastside United Methodist Church , The Southeast Environmental Task Force and Director, Peter Bull


Eagles have been discovered nesting within the Blue Heron Rookery adjacent to the site for the proposed CPD outdoor firing range - the first to nest within our great city.

The Bald Eagle, though no longer on the endangered list, is still protected by the  Bald and Golden Eagle Act.  The Act prohibits anyone from "disturbing" the eagles without an issued permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife.  In the event that a permit is appllied for by CPD, SETF will ask  USFW for public meeting and comment period. to allow those who are opposed to the range to be heard.  We will keep you  posted.

Click here for videos and comments from our supporters:

Tranquility lost:

Adding insult to injury...

In addition to firing ranges, coal gasification plants, cement kilns, wetland fill-ins and delayed construction on the promised Calumet Environmental Center, Alderman Beale of the 9th Ward recently proposed an ordiance to lift the current 20 year Landfill Moratorium that isn't even halfway through it's life span.  If the moratorium is lifted the impact will be most strongly felt on the southeast side.  Land and Lakes will surely expand it's current Dolton operation to fill in the gap between it's two landfills that straddle the city limits. Waste Management could  decide to re-open or expand it's landfills that are across the river from Hegewisch Marsh.

If this happens, the residents of Altgeld Gardens and Golden Gate, who are constituents of Alderman Beale, will be sandwiched between the stench of the MWRD treatment plant and the newly operational landfills.  Hegewisch Marsh could also be affected by odors, dust, and unsightly garbage.

We find it interesting that while parts of the city move forward with  roof-top gardens, curb side reycling,  green operating industries and other 21st Century initiatives, we get pulled backward into the previous century with dirty industry, landfilling,  diesel trucking, and a lot of promises.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bald Eagle Look Out

If you would like to get a peek at the bald eagles' nest built atop the trees on the proposed police gun range  site stop by Windjammers at 13701 Hoxie Avenue.  Mike Olson, the proprietor, will be glad to serve you a cold brew while pointing out the nest.  Just be sure to bring a pair of binoculars with.

Kitchen Beauty

On Friday, February 17th, the Task Force hosted one of it's more popular workshops.  Our "Natural Beauty" workshop emphasizes the importance of using fewer chemicals in the name of beauty, and instead substituting everyday "good for you " ingredients that can be found in your kitchen. The ingredients cost only pennies and do the job.  Things like cornmeal, lemons, vegetable oil, sea salt, and cocoa can be whisked together to make facial masks, moisturizers, refreshing body soaks and scrubs.

Ending a busy week with a workshop where you get to mix things up, make a mess, get a free facial message and a sip of sangria made from left over lemons and oranges, is high on our members priority list.  In fact, this workshop is so much fun, we might have to offer it twice a year!

Linda Cook, Board member, demonstrates how to mix one of the recipes.

Sharon Rolek, Rose Martinez and Sylvia Villicana are busy mixing and stirring their potions.

Sylvia assesses the mess.

Julia readies herself for her facial message.

Linda Ruxton is "pleased as punch" with her scrub.

Sylvia is just as pleased a Linda.

Sea kelp and cocoa - who would have thought!

Waiting for the magic to begin.


Friday, February 17, 2012


We had the perfect winter day for our "Winter Walk".  There was a sprinkling of snow, and the temperature was in the low 30's, made even lower by the wind chill factor.  Linda Ruxton, John Pastrik, and Kevin Kuhn, our volunteer guides, met the adults and children at the Egger's Grove parking lot.  John and Kevin had already put in early hours doing stewardship work along with students from Washington High School at the site.  After all had arrived, they started the hike, following the main path into the woods.  John led the group pointing out tree types, sharing facts and his brand of humor.  The children ( 4 little girls) walked, ran, and pranced along while the adults listened to John and chatted.  After the 1/2 mile hike was over, the group warmed up around a fire made from brush that had been cut earlier.  Tossing twigs into the fire kept the girls entertained even longer.  The event ended, when one of the little girls stepped on an ice covered puddle and broke through.  She was too wet to stay out in the cold.

 Introducing children to the woods and the fun that is to be had outdoors the purpose of our event - judging from the fun that was had by all, it were successful.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Eagles Have Landed And Are Nesting in the Millennium Reserve

It has been confirmed; the eagles have taken up residence in a nest at Whitford Pond near the proposed CPD Firing Range. 

When the SETF and other conservation groups first appeared before the Metropolitan Water Reclamation Department in 2010, we asked that a four-season wildlife study be done of the property.  As residents, we were most familiar with the local landscape and understood how the wildlife utilized the fragmented parcels of property. and how integral that isolated parcel was because of the ponds.  MWRD as property owners agreed to allow for a study.  We then appealed to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources,  who finally agreed to grant us a two day study, that proved to be too cursory to substantiate much.

We are hopeful that with the siting of the eagles, CPD and the Mayor will reconsider locating the range elsewhere and allow the eagles to propagate within the Millennium Reserve whose purpose is to preserve open space and wildlife habitat for future generations.

Go here to hear an interview with Carolyn Marsh, a member of SETF and Chicago Audubon and to see some great video footage of the birds:


Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Eagles Have Landed!

SETF has been working with other organizations and groups in opposing the proposed CPD outdoor firing range for more than a year.  The Range, which is to be located at 134th and Jeffery Avenue, will be adjacent to two wetland ponds that are critical for migrating waterfowl and a Blue Heron rookery.  A firing range with 40 marksmen shooting at any given time would disturb and threaten these birds as well as the other wildlife currently in residence on the property.  Though a noise study affirmed that residential areas would not hear the noise, the shooting would however be heard by visitors to Hegewisch Marsh - one of our Park District Parks and future home to the Calumet Ford Environmental Center. 

As part of the Calumet Open Space Reserve, the property had been identified for open space reclamation along with the adjacent landfill.  The potential for the property to offer public passive recreation was a vision of the Task Force.   But a narrow vote by the MWRD Commissioners to approve the 39 year lease to the Police Department for the property left us discouraged.

Enter a pair of nesting Bald Eagles amid the Blue Heron Rookery.  The Bald Eagle, while no longer an endangered species, is still protected by certain restrictions and the City will have to seek a permit from U.S. Fish and Wildlife before the project can move forward. 

We think the Mayor should reconsider the location of the gun range as placing a outdoor firing range in an urban area is at the very least controversial, and at the proposed site it is unacceptable.

Bald Eagle sitting on electric  pole near location. (photo courtesy of WBEZ)

Eagle's nest easily distinguished by size. (photo courtesy of WBEZ)

Touring Regency Technologies

Recently, SETF joined Alderman John Pope for a tour of Regency Electronics located at 116th and Burley Avenue.  Regency recycles electronic equipment and appliances, disassembling them into pieces that can be shredded or processed for recycling.  The company is under the umbrella of the larger Reserve Management Group that has another adjacent site that processes scrap metal in addition to multiple sites throughout the country. 

After meeting with the management people in the office trailer, we donned hard hats and headed for the large warehouse were the recycling of the collected items is done.  The warehouse was once part of LTV Steel and housed hundreds of workers.  Today, as Regency recyclers, it houses fewer than 100 employees, most of which are temporary. 

The warehouse was bustling with activity as workers disassembled, collected, moved, and shredded tons of discarded electronics and appliances.  The huge warehouse was full from one end to the other.  Forklifts zipped back and forth moving boxes of pieces and parts. A dozen or so employees stood huddled together at tables, dismantling items and tossing the parts into appropriate bins.   Julius Hess of Regency explained that the process was very labor intensive.

Recycling products that has been broken down is just one arm of their business - they also refurbish and resell any computer or IT equipment that is worth selvaging.

For more information about Regency Technologies, visit their website at: http://www.regencytechnologies.com/
To purchase refurbished equipment, go to their ebay store here: http://stores.ebay.com/Regency-Technologies-Store?_lns=2&_sid=25639494&_trksid=p4634.c0.m322

Alderman Pope looks on as Jeff Corse explains the process.
A football field of discarded electronics.
Old appliances waiting to be disassembled.
Nothing is wasted as all pieces are classified by material content.
More appliences.
Imagine how many hardrives equal a ton!

Selvaging usable parts takes more skill and carefull handling.

Miles and miles of power cords.
Workers are busy as bees dismantling equipment.
The noisy, imposing  shredder capable of handling almost any material.