Newsmakers Making A Difference: Peggy Salazar, Southeast Environmental Task Force

Bernie Tafoya
August 02, 2018 - 6:00 am

WBBM Newsradio/Bernie Tafoya

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- “We have labeled ourself the sacrifice zone because everything that nobody wants anywhere else in the city gets placed here,” said Peggy Salazar, executive director of the Southeast Environmental Task Force.

The Southeast Side of Chicago has been an industrial area for almost 150 years. For nearly 30 of the most recent years, the Southeast Environmental Task Force has been fighting for a cleaner environment there. Retired public school teacher Marian Byrnes founded it in 1989.

“The South Side has always been looked at as a sort of dumping ground, heavy industry. We have hundreds of acres of landfills. We have acres of brownfields from the industry that was here and we have pollution today as a result of the industries that are still here,” Salazar said.

One of the most recent battles has been over the storage of petcoke, a sooty dust that’s waste from the oil refinery industry. It blows around and settles on homes, schools, playgrounds “and while it’s in the air, people are breathing it in.”

Salazar wants residents to think about the possibilities for the area.

“We called it the Green Economic Industrial Corridor with the hope and intent that we would start looking at this area differently and start to transform it,” she said.

As WBBM celebrates its 50th anniversary as Newsradio, this year we’ll be honoring 50 Newsmakers making a difference in the community.  Listen for reports each Tuesday.

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