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Illinois AG Files Suit Against Hilco After Implosion Dust Covers Little Village

CHICAGO (CBS) --  A month after the implosion of a smokestack in Little Village left a neighborhood covered in a cloud of dust, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul filed suit against Hilco and other connected companies for the blast on April 11.

The lawsuit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleged that the following companies:  Hilco Redevelopment Partners (Hilco); HRP Exchange 55, LLC; MCM Management Corp. (MCM); and Controlled Demolition Inc. (CDI) released contaminants as part of the demolition. It was part of the former Crawford Electric Generating Station.

Little Village
(Credit: CBS)

The suit said the controlled implosion spewed smoke and contaminants through the Little Village neighborhood and that the smokestack itself released mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

"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," Raoul said.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency referred the matter to the Raoul's office.

The Illinois Attorney General said the former power plant is located in an area "of environmental justice concern. Communities in Illinois with a percentage of low-income and/or minority residents that is greater than twice the statewide average can be designated as areas of environmental justice concern by the IEPA."

According to Raoul, during the implosion, a large dust cloud of "particulate matter" was created that wasn't affected much by water mitigation. He said the dust cloud covered an area of Chicago's Little Village neighborhood.

Particulate matter is made up of dust, dirt, soot or smoke mixed with liquid droplets found in the air, causing aggravated asthma, decreased lung function among other respiratory problems.

"The company and their contractor failed to take the necessary steps to protect nearby residents from the resulting impact of the implosion," said Illinois EPA Director John J. Kim.

The lawsuit "seeks to require the companies to take corrective actions for the release of air pollutants, take preventative actions to ensure future demolitions do not release air pollutants and pay civil penalties."

The amount was not disclosed.

"I am committed to holding the defendants accountable for the environmental damage done to the Little Village community and working to address any remaining contamination," Raoul said.

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