Company Sued Over Massive Dust Cloud From Chicago-Area Demolition

April 17, 2020

The company whose weekend demolition of a former coal plant in Little Village sent a massive cloud of dust into Chicago’s nearby neighborhood apologized for causing “anxiety and fear.” However, the apology did not prevent the company from being sued for the act.

Northbrook, Ill.-based Hilco Redevelopment Partners said the developer failed to follow a plan it gave city officials that would’ve prevented the situation. They expected the implosion experts to use dust mitigation with water before, during and after the demolition.

The company is fully cooperating with the city while it investigates and is implementing “a thorough corrective action plan,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

Roberto Perez, CEO of Hilco acknowledged concerns were even further elevated given the implosion took place during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We understand, apologize to and sympathize with the Little Village community,” said Perez in a statement. “The health, safety and welfare of the local community is of paramount concern to Hilco Redevelopment Partners as we work toward completing this project and driving economic viability to the community.”

The lawsuit filed Wednesday in Cook County Circuit Court by Clifford Law Offices on behalf of Little Village residents seek damages for personal injury and seeks installation of a system to monitor their medical conditions.

Attorney Sean Driscoll said homes across Little Village are still covered in dust and residents like Katherine Ramirez-Mercado, who he says suffers from asthma, fear what the dust may contain.

Videos and photos that circulated Saturday on social media showed a tower falling to the ground, releasing a heavy cloud of dust that eventually seeped into residential areas. One photographer described the scene as “like something out of the movies.”

Mayor Lori Lightfoot ordered Hilco to clean cars and property as well as distribute masks to residents living near the site.

Additionally, Hilco sent sweepers to the affected area and has agreed to reimburse the city for additional sweeping.

City officials are testing dust to determine what particles were released and will monitor air quality on the site and nearby.

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