Report: Chicago neglected environmental rules leading up to Little Village smokestack implosion

A report shows that in the years leading up to the Hilco disaster in Little Village, the city of Chicago largely neglected its environmental rules.

Neighbors for Environmental Justice compiled 20 years of environmental enforcement data in Chicago. Their reports are titled "Ineffective by Choice."

Among the key findings, since then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel disbanded the city's Environment Department in 2011, enforcement and prosecution of air pollution and toxic waste handling violations significantly dropped.

The report shows nothing has changed since Mayor Lori Lightfoot took office.


"Mayor Lightfoot’s administration continues to state that contractor negligence and failures led to the dust cloud that created fear and trauma in Little Village. Yet this report shows the contrary. Both the company and the administration's staff played a direct and active role driving the implosion forward and abandoning their duty to protect and inform the public," the report stated.

Little Village activists say that the pollution from the botched implosion over Easter weekend in 2020 cost two neighbors their lives.