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Chicago deems migrant tent camp site in Brighton Park safe after environmental review

Migrant tent camp moving forward in Chicago's Brighton Park neighborhood
Migrant tent camp moving forward in Chicago's Brighton Park neighborhood 00:28

CHICAGO (CBS) -- The Brighton Park neighborhood site for a migrant tent camp is going forward, after city officials said it is safe, following an environmental review that prompted the removal of contaminated soil.

The city's Department of Assets, Information, and Services contracted with Terracon Consultants Inc. to conduct an environmental assessment of the site at 3710 S. California Ave. Terracon conducted a field investigation that involved soil, groundwater, and soil gas sampling.

After taking the samples, the contractor compared them to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency's remediation standards for residential use, the city said. Soil with mercury levels was found at one spot on the site, and was removed and disposed of in a landfill, the city said.

Soil with a high level of a semi-volatile compound was also found on the site, and will be removed, the city said.

Construction on migrant tent camp moves forward in Chicago 02:08

The city released a report from Terracon measuring in the hundreds of pages. It also documented the discovery of arsenic, lead, and other chemicals at the site.

The Department of Assets, Information, and Services also said a barrier of crushed clean stone with a minimum thickness of 6 inches will be placed along the surface of the site.

With the barrier and limited soil removal, the city deemed the site safe for temporary residential use.

Work began earlier this week on the tent structures at the site.

The announcement that construction in Brighton Park could begin this week came after confusion over the weekend about when that work would start. On Saturday, Ald. Julia Ramirez (12th) announced the mayor's office had informed her construction would begin on Monday, but the mayor's office later said construction would begin "at a later date."

Migrant tent camp construction moves forward after environmental review 01:16

Ramirez has said she is opposed to building the tent camp at 38th and California and has criticized the Johnson administration for not yet providing her with a report on an environmental assessment of the site after tests reportedly revealed heavy metal contamination in the soil.

Protesters who have staged multiple rallies against the tent camp plan and have repeatedly tried to block workers from reaching the site have posted a sign stating, "This land is contaminated."

The city also is continuing work on another proposed tent site at 115th and Halsted streets in Morgan Park.

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