|The Fisk Generating Station, Pilsen, Chicago.|
“I have a hard time believing if these plants were located on the north side of the city, that they would not have already been cleaned up by now.”
- Rev. Patrick Daymond, Sixth Grace Presbyterian Church, in testimony before the Chicago City Council, during hearings on the Clean Power Ordinance.
NOTE: The following is the second of a series of four stories about the environmental and health impact of coal fired power plants on densely-populated, low income Chicago communities. You can read part one, "Four Sisters, One Rare Disorder," here. More parts of this series, along with visualizations and some interactive elements, will be posted in the coming weeks.
Part One: Four Sisters, One Rare Disorder
Part Two: Old Problems, New Attention
Part Three: The People VS the Bottom Line
Part Four: Hopelessness and Hope in Pilsen
Visualization - Is there injustice in Pilsen?
Visualization - Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood struggles with pollution
They come in at the same time every day.
The lumbering train pulls more than 100 of them, each full with black coal rocks, up to the Will County Generation Station, where the contents are unloaded, mixed, and put on several barges and sent up river.
The barges meander up the Chicago Sanitary and Ship canal, where they dock alongside the Crawford and Fisk coal-fired power plants.
The plants are owned by Midwest Generation, a Delaware limited liability company, solely owned by Edison Mission Midwest Holdings. In turn, Edison Mission Midwest Holdings is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Midwest Generation, EME, LLC. That limited liability company, in turn, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Edison International.
According to Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, Midwest Generation was “formed for the purpose of owning or leasing, making improvements to, and operating and selling the capacity and energy of, the power generation assets it purchased from Commonwealth Edison, which are referred to as the Illinois Plants.”
At the plants, the barges are relieved of their burden and go back down the canal as empty shells. But the coal – that gets turned into electricity. The Fisk and Crawford plants, located in the Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods on the lower west side of Chicago, respectively, together generate about 858 megawatts of power.
It’s also turned into pollution. The plants released 3,372 tons of nitrogen oxides, 1,583 tons of soot, and 5 million tons of carbon dioxide in 2008, by the EPA’s count.
On May 24, things did not go as planned at the Crawford and Fisk plants.