An implosion at a coal plant in southwest Chicago that was captured in photographs and video created a cloud of dust that lingered over a community of homes.
Experts have said that the damaging impact of air pollution is likely to increase COVID-19 death rates.
A local photographer snapped a number of disturbing images from a city block away from the implosion.
“It was crazy. I couldn’t breathe,” the photographer, who only gave his name as Maclovio, told Earther. “I didn’t bring a mask so I just had to make a makeshift one with my jacket over my face… It hurt my lungs for like 20 minutes afterward, and my nose burned.”
Although the company received a permit from the city for the demolition, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Monday said the CEO of Hilco is “contrite and embarassed” by what took “They own this,” the mayor said, according to the Chicago Sun Times. “The representations that were made by Hilco were not followed through on. If anybody in the city government or the alderman’s office knew what was represented to us wasn’t actually gonna be followed on site, we would have stopped it in its tracks. But promises were made. Those promises were not kept.”
Lightfood said a cleanup operation is already underway in Little Village, which Hilco would be paying for.
“Hilco’s actually sending a team of people out today to go literally door-to-door to assess what the damages are. I made it very clear to the CEO of Hilco when I spoke to him that they own this and they have mitigate the harm that’s been done to residents and residents’ property,” the mayor added.
Some residents of the primarily Latino neighborhood are considering filing a class action lawsuit against Crawford Coal, according to local reports.
In a Change.org post, the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization condemed the implosion, saying residents were only given “last minute” notice and that it was a “reckless” action — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.