Two workers file lawsuit against the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago
Two workers have filed a lawsuit claiming the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) was negligent, according to The Chicago Tribune. This comes weeks after an explosion blew the roof of the water treatment facility at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant.
According to the suit filed Tuesday morning in Cook County Circuit, the district failed to adequately inspect the sludge concentration building at the plant. Allison Fore, public and intergovernmental affairs officer of MWRD, said the district has not been served with a summons of complaint regarding the matter.
Attorneys for the men, pipefitters William Ruiz and William Kissane, has said the water district officials failed to properly monitor the building for the presence of explosive gases and provide ventilation that could have prevented such a blast. The suit also names as a defendant Independent Mechanical Ind., who provides general contracting services to the district. Attorney James J. Morici Jr. said the plaintiffs worked for a subcontractor working with that firm.
The suit states that the water district had the authority to stop work or alter work plans if the work was being done “in a dangerous manner or for any other reason.”
The explosion sent plumes of smoke into the air over the Far South Side as the building roof caved in on the workers inside. Eight of the workers, including Ruiz, were safely removed. Two other workers, one being Kissane, were “buried and entombed” by fallen debris.
Firefighters worked for about 20 minutes to free Kissane. According to Morici, he suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a fractured shoulder bone and a serious leg fracture.
Chicago fire officials found a worker’s torch set off the explosion of methane gas that lifted the roof off the building.
The suit is seeking monetary damages for physical and mental injuries suffered in the accident.
In a press release to the media Friday, Aug. 31, MWRD released a statement about the events at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant, noting that water treatment operations will continue, water is safe to drink, and teams are being mobilized for clean up.
“We are grateful to report as of Friday morning [Aug. 31] that eight of the 10 individuals impacted by yesterday’s roof collapse at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant have been released from area hospitals. We wish them all a speedy recovery," the release said.