Little Village coal plant smokestack implosion sparks class-action lawsuit

CHICAGO -- A class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Little Village residents after a smokestack demolition sent a cloud of dust into the air on Chicago's Southwest Side.

Hilco Redevelopment Partners oversaw the weekend implosion. Hilco apologized for causing "anxiety and fear" after it 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 said it is fully cooperating with the city while it investigates and is implementing "a thorough corrective action plan."

READ: Full statement from Hilco on Little Village implosion

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

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Watch as an old concrete smokestack is imploded near 35th and Pulaski in Chicago's Little Village.

"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."

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."

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Mayor Lori Lightfoot said a scheduled demolition that took place Saturday in Little Village was "unacceptable."

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.

WLS-TV and the Associated Press contributed to this report.