An explosion occurred around 11 A.M. on Thursday morning at the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant located in the Far South Side of Chicago. The blast is suspected to be caused by a buildup of methane gas, but the exact cause is pending investigation. It was initially reported that 10 people were injured in the blast. One witness stated that the explosion had enough force to lift the roof off the building before it collapsed. Of the 10 people that were injured, two were trapped by rubble and required rescuing.
Buried and Entombed Under Rubble
After rescuing one of the trapped individuals, officials had to dig a 20-foot tunnel to rescue the second trapped worker. This worker was entombed with rubble and pinned by metal beams. Crews had to work quickly to help avoid the need for amputation. Eventually, the worker was freed and airlifted to University of Chicago Medical Center. He is currently in critical but stable condition while being treated for leg injuries and a broken jaw.
Timothy Walsh, a special operation chief, said that the man’s injuries were severe enough that responders consulted doctors at the University of Chicago while the man was still being freed from the rubble. They did this to ensure that the proper precautions were being taken for the worker’s health. Concerned about injuries caused by the collapse, responders immediately began treatment on the unidentified man.
The other workers are listed as being in critical or serious condition. They are fighting for recovery in various hospitals throughout Cook County.
As the oldest water treatment facility in Cook County, the Calumet Water Reclamation Plant has been in operation since 1922. It serves a population of 1 million in a 300 square-mile portion of southern Cook County. The explosion occurred in the sludge concentration building. While the walls of the building remain standing, the roof has completely collapsed.
The plant explosion attorneys at Arnold & Itkin are thankful for the work done by responders and hope for the recovery of each injured person. We hope that an investigation provides the answers needed to prevent incidents like this in the future.