Three firms involved in the botched demolition of the smokestack at the former Crawford Power Plant that sent a plume of dust over six blocks of homes in Little Village will pay $370,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, his office announced Thursday.
The funds will go to the Access Community Health Network, the largest federally qualified health center in Little Village, Raoul said.
“The settlement today holds the companies accountable for their failure to adequately protect residents from air pollution during demolition at the site. It also represents a step toward environmental justice for residents of the Little Village community,” Raoul said in a statement. “In addition to requiring the companies to prevent this from happening again during remaining demolition activities, they will provide funding to improve health outcomes in a community that has experienced decades of pollution during the Crawford Electric Generating Station’s lifetime.”
A representative of Hilco did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday from WTTW News.
The dust cloud that enveloped Little Village on April 11 included mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and other pollutants, according to the lawsuit filed by the attorney general that accused Hilco Redevelopment Partners and the firm’s general contractors, MCM Management Corp. and Controlled Demolition Inc., of failing to take “adequate steps to protect the community from the resulting cloud of particulate matter.”
The settlement will be used to fund programs designed to address “some of the leading health concerns facing Little Village residents, including asthma, diabetes and hypertension, by educating and empowering people to manage their physical and mental health,” according to Raoul’s office.
A spokesperson for Access Health did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WTTW News.
In a separate action, city officials hit Hilco with 16 citations, which come with $68,000 in fines, for allowing the plume to inundate the surrounding neighborhood, the Mayor Lori Lightfoot's office announced April 17.
Ald. Mike Rodriguez (22nd Ward) said the settlement was a step in the right direction.
"But it is a small step," he said. "The fact is that my community has been suffering for a long time."
Representatives of the mayor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from WTTW News.