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Aviation Dept.: ‘Good progress’ on defective windows

An official with the Chicago Department of Aviation said

late last week that his agency is making “some good progress” in addressing

Southwest Side homeowner concerns regarding offensive fumes emitted by

Residential Sound Insulation Program windows.

But what CDA and its environmental-health contractor, Amec

Foster Wheeler, are doing appear to be at odds with what one Southwest Side

alderman has publicly insisted that they do.

In a conversation with the Southwest News-Herald, CDA Deputy

Commissioner Frame said that some of the 80-plus Midway-area homes will receive

indoor-air quality tests as part of a multi-step process to determine if the

fumes emitted are poisonous or not. But he did not commit to testing all homes.

Further, he did not say how many homes would be tested, and

how many would not.

Earlier this month, 23rd Ward Ald. Michael R. Zalewski,

chairman of the City Council Committee on Aviation, told the Southwest

News-Herald, “I am committed to holding the Department of Aviation and the

Emanuel Administration accountable to test every home affected and replace

windows at each home that qualifiesӄa reiteration of something he said to CDA

officials on July 11.

Frame also told the Southwest News-Herald that CDA’s

contractor has removed all RSIP windows from one home he declined to

nameÑciting privacy concerns. He added that some of the windows have been take

to a laboratory for analysis.

“Those results should be available in a few

weeksÑmid-OctoberÑand those results will be used to identify the target

compounds,” Frame said. “That will help us figure out what chemicals we’re

looking for, in determining the cause of the odor.”

In response to a question, Frame said he did not know which

windows in the home were to be tested, and which not. He said the determination

was made by the CDA contractor. “We defer to their judgment,” he said.

RSIP homeowners have stated that windows that seem to emit

the most and strongest odors are second-floor windows that get a lot of

exposure to the sun.

Frame said that if all goes according to plan, some of the

homeowners with RSIP complaints will have their windows replaced this year,

while others will see theirs replaced in 2018. He would not say how many homes

will have their windows replaced.

Aviation chief

ordered to appear, again

Zalewski said this week that he intends to get a definite

answer on the scope of indoor-air quality testingÑand other matters–at the

next joint meeting of the City Council Committee on Aviation and Committee on

Finance, set for 3 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 3 at Mayfield Banquets, 6072 S. Archer.

The public is invited to attend.

Summoned to appear at the meeting will be CDA Commissioner

Ginger S. Evans, who was a no-show at a similar joint committee meeting at Hale

Park on Aug. 23, which she had been ordered by attend by the City Council.

Her absenceÑshe was apparently more than 1,000 miles away,

watching the solar eclipseÑinfuriated 14th Ward Edward M. Burke, dean of the

City Council and longtime chairman of the Committee on Finance, as well as

other aldermen and Southwest Side homeowners in attendance.

Since then, Burke and 13th Ward Ald. Marty Quinn have

sponsored a resolution demanding that Evans “show cause why she should not be

held in contempt” by the City Council.

Background

The concern over RSIP windows was reported first and

exclusively by the Southwest News-Herald on June 9, and in subsequent weeks

over the summer

The story started with four Chrysler Village homeowners

expressing concern about foul-smelling fumes emitted by their RSIP windows. In

the weeks after the story broke, more than 80 homeowners have stepped forward

to report that they, too, have RSIP windows causing foul odors in their homes.

Several of the homeowners have had cancer diagnoses since

the windows were installed. Some were installed in 2006, others in 2011.

All homeowners interviewed by the Southwest News-Herald have

said they hope the fumes coming from their RSIP windows are not toxic to them

or their children.

CDA initially refused to conduct in-home air quality tests,

but did an about face under pressure from local aldermen, as well as U.S. Rep.

Dan Lipinski (D-3rd).

CDA also initially refused to replace defective windows

unless homeowners signed an agreement not to sue the city, even if the windows

were found to be emitting cancer-causing fumes. They backed away from that

demand, under pressure.

(Editor’s Note: More

news coverage and photos in the print edition of the Southwest News-Herald,

available on local newsstands. Or better yet, call 708-496-0265 during weekday

business hours and order convenient home delivery for about 50 cents a week.)

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