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IG report: City officials failed to act before Little Village chimney implosion

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IG report: City officials failed to act before Little Village chimney implosion

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CHICAGO — An environmental debacle in Little Village resulted in just a slap on the wrist for city officials who were held accountable in a single day and minimal fines for the company involved, according to a new report by the Inspector General.

In April 2020, suburban developer Hilco Redevelopment Partners imploded a chimney on the now defunct Crawford coal-fired power station in Little Village. The botched implosion of the 400ft chimney sent a cloud of mud over the neighborhood, creating critical air pollution considerations.

Almost two years later, an inspector general’s report released on Friday uncovered a number of “warnings” dating back 213 days before the implosion.

Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (Twenty-fifth District) asked for the report and said the findings were concerning.

“Especially with the repeated warnings for so long, we had several warnings and the assistant commissioner did not act each time,” he said. “I think it’s clear that the administration didn’t take this issue seriously, and of course the developer in this case didn’t take it seriously either.”

The report claimed that “officials were approaching their regulatory roles in a ‘not my job’ manner” and concluded that the storyline had led to an “overnight city regulatory breakdown”.

The Inspector General really helped to fire the person in charge of the health department concerned, but this person was only written in writing. The report stated that Dr Allison Arwady “refused to issue disciplinary action”.

“Commissioner Arwady must have full responsibility within her department. I see no reason why the disciplinary measures were not followed,” Sigcho-Lopez said.

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At the top, the city issued 16 citations that should have resulted in fines of $68,000, but the companies settled for just $19,000. They have found no responsibility and have denied any wrongdoing or legal liability.

IG report: City officials failed to act before Little Village chimney implosion

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