Plant co-owner Joe Haughey looks over automated and manual plant controls in the control tower at MAT Asphalt.

MAT Asphalt Reaches Out to Community with Website, Video

Published October 4, 2018

MAT Asphalt LLC, the owner and operator of the recently constructed asphalt plant off Pershing Road and Damen Avenue, has announced two new elements of community outreach: its new website at https://matasphalt.com and an online video that explains its product, business and operations.

"Launching our website and reaching out to our neighbors to tell our story are just two ways we are demonstrating our openness to McKinley Park and our pride in the cleanliness and safety of our operations," said plant co-owner Michael Tadin Jr. "We have an open-door policy with the community."

The website provides business information for asphalt customers, and it offers background on the products the plant produces, the methods of its operations and the mandated and additional steps that plant operators have taken to minimize pollution and exceed emissions control requirements.

The new video, posted online and embedded below, details plant equipment and site setup, and features plant co-owner Joe Haughey. In the video, Haughey calls MAT Asphalt one of the cleanest-operating asphalt plants in the United States.

Information in the MAT Asphalt media release noted the plant's enclosed, positive-capture venting system, connected to a bag house that filters emissions and particulate matter from the heated, rotating drum that mixes the asphalt. The media release also noted the fully electric systems that power the plant; its new, state-of-the-art equipment; how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2002 delisted asphalt plants as major sources of air pollution; and how the plant has met every process, inspection, permitting and emissions requirement from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA).

A website with plant information has been one of the elements requested of MAT Asphalt at recent community meetings, including from representatives of the newly formed Neighbors for Environmental Justice group. The organization, a collective of McKinley Park residents, opposes the plant through advocacy and an online petition. They plan a #Create #Collaborate #Mobilize event on Monday, October 8, at the McKinley Community Play Garden to raise awareness about local environmental issues.

Vocal opposition to the plant has also come from McKinley Park resident and 12th Ward Alderman candidate Pete DeMay, who said at his September 23 campaign announcement that he will force the asphalt plant to move if he is elected alderman.

One of the Neighbors for Environmental Justice's signature projects has been fund-raising and rolling out a local air-quality sensor network. The group has recently added two new sensors to their Southwest Side network, bringing their count up to nine sensors spread across the McKinley Park, Brighton Park and Little Village neighborhoods, including a sensor adjacent to the asphalt plant site.

Indeed, Haughey has spoken at community meetings how MAT Asphalt regularly monitors the readings from the group's air quality network. Tadin said he is still exploring how to install an air quality monitor at the asphalt site that would specifically measure plant emissions, and not pick up air pollution from other nearby sources, such as the many idling diesel locomotives in the large rail yard adjacent to the plant.

"Our objective is to be a socially responsible company and good corporate citizen while producing the highest-quality asphalt pavement in the most environmentally friendly manner," Tadin said. He also pointed to how the plant's upending of the local asphalt market has saved money for Chicago taxpayers: "Since we started operating in early July, the city has realized several million dollars in savings, the direct result of our competitive bidding."

Traffic and pollution from diesel trucks accessing the asphalt plant — estimated by MAT Asphalt to be as many as 200 trucks per day — have been another area of concern raised by residents and Neighbors for Environmental Justice. Tadin estimated the traffic from the plant should increase the existing truck traffic on Pershing Road by no more than single-digit percentages, and he noted that the State of Illinois has officially designated Pershing Road as a Class II truck route.

Through the spring and summer of this year, MAT Asphalt representatives have participated in community meetings about the plant, and have spoken to various community groups. MAT Asphalt has hosted many tours of the plant for local groups and residents, including members of Neighbors for Environmental Justice. Haughey said anyone who is interested in taking a tour can request one by sending him email at jhaughey@matasphalt.com.

The MAT Asphalt plant site has an address of 2055 Pershing Road and is located about a block south of where Damen Avenue dead-ends into Pershing Road. It sits inside Planned Manufacturing District No. 8, an area the City of Chicago has specifically designated for heavy industry. In 2017, an adjacent, vacant parcel was rezoned to a commercial district from residential in order to allow plant construction, a move that received support from 12th Ward Alderman George Cardenas and approval from the owner of the vacant property.

MAT Asphalt was developed by a partnership that includes Buildsmore LLC, owned by Tony Sanchez; McKinley Park LLC, owned by Charles and Dan Gallagher; and MAT Asphalt LLC, owned by Michael Tadin Jr. Its operations will cease in early December, and start up again in mid-April, as asphalt cannot be transported or applied in cold weather. When open, the plant's operating hours run Mondays through Saturdays, from about 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

MAT Asphalt drum and vent 20181003A large vent connects the asphalt mixing drum to the bag house in order to capture its emissions at the MAT Asphalt plant.


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