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Condo Residents Concerned About Flammable Panels

(CBS) -- River East Center homeowners speak to the 2 Investigators about flammable panels used to construct their Streeterville building.

Piya Mukherjee says she's owned a condo there for 10 years, and did not know about the potential danger of the exterior building material.

It is called Reynobod PE, and it contains a Polyethylene core. It's the same kind of exterior metal paneling blamed for helping fuel the Grenfell Tower fire in London this summer; 71 people perished.

"I'm very concerned about that," Mukherjee tells 2 Investigator Dave Savini, who broke the story earlier this week.

Judy Frydland, Chicago's building commissioner, confirmed the presence of Reynobond PE. She says it should not have been put on a high rise and was done long before her administration.

She says her department recently met with the three building owners and their engineering consultant.

The Polyethelene core is flammable. Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago says the toxic fumes generated by the material, if ablaze, could be harmful to his firefighters.

Santiago notes that River East Center does have significant life safety equipment to protect residents.

"It has sprinklers and an alarm panel that tells you if there is smoke or fire way before it gets out of control," he says.

Resident Sanjay Sukhramani says the condo association recently contacted residents about the metal panel investigation and reassured them it's safe.

But he's surprised the 2002 records explaining how these flammable panels ended up on the building no longer exist.

"It kind of boggles my mind," he says.

The safety study from the building owners is expected to be completed at the end of January.

CBS 2 has reached out to the River East Center owners and only received a comment from the Embassy Suites hotel by Hilton. They say the complex received all required permits when it was built and it complies with the building code.

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