LITTLE VILLAGE — Work at the former Crawford coal plant, currently being demolished and remediated to make way for a massive warehouse in Little Village, has been suspended after a worker plummeted to his death last week, Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) said.
Rodriguez said work was stopped at the Hilco Development Partners-owned site, 3501 S. Pulaski Road, until the company can ensure worker safety.
“Work has stopped until they can absolutely assure the work site is in a place where people can work safely,” Rodriguez said. “As far as I’m concerned, until that can happen, they should not restart demolition.”
At 7:19 a.m. Dec. 30, Reynaldo Grimaldo, 54, was trying to climb onto an elevated platform at the old coal plant when he fell 50 feet to his death, officials said.
Grimaldo, of Little Village, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office.
“It’s such a tragedy,” Rodriguez said.
Before the work resumes, the company needs clearance from “authorities,” Rodriguez said.
“We are going to ask the company to go above and beyond in assuring workers safety as well as the community’s safety,” Rodriguez said.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration spokesman Scott Allen said the agency is investigating the death.
Hilco Development Partners, the Northbrook firm that is redeveloping the site into a one-million-square-foot distribution center, did not respond to request for comment about the suspension of work at the site.
Last week, the company said they were immediately informed of the “tragic accident.”
“We are cooperating with authorities and focused on providing the necessary support to … our employees and all those affected by this tragedy,” Hilco’s Gary Epstein said in a statement last week.
Last February, a fire broke out as crews were dismantling an electrical transformer on site.
The Crawford Power Plant was shut down in 2012 after community-led efforts raised concerns about the impact coal pollution was having on the health of Little Village residents.
Hilco’s redevelopment plan sparked anger among residents who feared the distribution center would bring more diesel trucks and actually increase pollution in the neighborhood. After the project was approved, at a meeting this summer, neighbors and activists called on the developer to install air monitors and extra testing ahead of the demolition and remediation of the site.
The distribution center is expected to be completed later this year.
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