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City Investigating After Dust Cloud Blankets Little Village Following Crawford Power Plant Smokestack Implosion

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Calling what happened "simply unacceptable," Mayor Lori Lightfoot says the city has launched an investigation after the demolition of the smokestack at the former Crawford power plant created a huge dust cloud that blanketed the surrounding Little Village neighborhood.

Around 8 a.m., crews from Hilco Redevelopment Partners performed a scheduled implosion of the smokestack near 35th and Pulaski, according to the mayor and the Chicago Fire Department.

The Fire Department provided support for the demolition, and at the time tweeted there were "no problems," but a photographer later shared pictures of a huge dust cloud blanketing nearby streets.

The photographer, who asked to be identified only as Maclovio, said in an Instagram post that he got caught in a dust cloud that covered a six-block radius.

Saturday night, the mayor tweeted that the city was investigating the incident.

"The health and safety of our residents is our top priority, which is why what happened earlier today was simply unacceptable," she wrote in a series of tweets. "The City is issuing a stop work order and will conduct a full investigation of today's incident, including exploration of potential regulatory changes to address operating procedures."

The mayor also said city officials were working with Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) and the community to make sure residents are kept informed of efforts to address the situation, and prevent anything like it from happening again.

Earlier in the day, at an unrelated press conference, the mayor was asked whether it was a good idea to conduct that kind of demolition during a pandemic. She said the timing of the work was not up to the city, but said the city's health department worked with the developers to make sure there wasn't more dust than normal.

"We'll continue to monitor the circumstances on the ground there to make sure that people are safe," she said.

The Crawford power plant is being torn down to make way for a $100 million, 1 million square foot logistics facility that will be known as "Exchange 55."

Hilco did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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