Same Morton Salt wall collapsed 20 years ago

Thursday, January 1, 2015
Morton Salt wall collapse not the first
What happened at Morton Salt 20 years ago didn't get as much attention because there was no car dealership here then, and no cars buried in salt.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Morton Salt is promising to work quickly and efficiently to clean up and repair its building after a wall collapsed on Tuesday, spilling tons of salt onto cars at a neighboring car dealership.

PHOTOS: Morton Salt collapse covers cars at Acura Dealership

How do you begin to fix a broken wall with tons of salt below? The answer is: One brick at a time. It will take a day, maybe two, but the roof trusses on the 86-year-old salt warehouse are said to be in good shape.

Once the bowed-out section of wall is removed, and the roof made certain, the salt dig-out can begin.

"We are going to leave it to the roofing expert to make that final assessment, and then to come up with a repair plan," said Denise Lauer, Morton Salt.

The salt pile that buried 11 cars behind McGrath Acura is something of a photo attraction, but just a little bit more than that for Richard Fattore, a retired contractor.

"I had to come here today to take a look at it. My wife says, 'What are you going there for?' I say, 'I gotta see the wall I built.' Gotta see what collapsed. It was the same thing 20 years ago," Fattore said.

Yes, this happened before. Same wall, only a bigger break, according to Fattore, who was the contractor hired at the time to do what is being done again now.

"The wall was twice as big. The same problem with the salt being behind there and they built the same wall back the way it was 20 years ago," Fattore said.

What happened a couple decades ago didn't get as much attention because there was no car dealership here then, and no cars buried in salt. The city's preliminary judgment, and Fattore agrees, is that the salt was piled much too high inside for a masonry wall with now steel reinforcement.

"You gonna do anything to reinforce the wall in the future. I'm sure the general contractor and the operations team will come up with a way to insure it is a safe structure so I will defer to their expertise on how to manage that," Fattore said.