Illinois Sues Developer, Contractors Over Coal Plant Implosion

May 7, 2020

The Illinois attorney general’s office has filed a lawsuit against a developer and two contractors for the release of contaminants during the implosion of a smokestack at a defunct Chicago power station.

The lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court alleges Hilco Redevelopment Partners and its general contractors, MCM Management and Controlled Demolition Inc. violated Illinois law and Pollution Control Board Air Pollution Regulations by causing air pollution during demolition of the 378-foot smokestack on April 11.

“The companies responsible for the demolition of the Crawford Power Generating Station’s smokestack failed to take steps to protect the community from air pollution and compromised air quality at a time when we are urging residents to remain in their communities to minimize the spread of a deadly respiratory disease,” Attorney General Kwame Raoul said in a statement.

Spokesmen for Hilco Redevelopment and Controlled Demolition did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for MCM Management could not be reached for comment.

The botched implosion of the smokestack sparked outrage among residents of the Little Village neighborhood blanketed by the dust. Because of the neighborhood’s high number of low-income and minority residents, the area is designated by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for environmental justice concern.

“Illinois EPA referred this matter to the attorney general’s office to ensure the company and contractor are held responsible and are required to take the necessary steps to remediate the impacts,” IEPA director John Kim said in a statement.

The power station being demolished was a coal-fired plant, causing concern the neighborhood was contaminated with asbestos and other particulate matter and pollutants produced by coal-fire plants.

Early air quality testing by city, state and federal authorities found no asbestos and that levels of particulate matter have not exceeded national standards in the area.

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