Southtown Star 11-4-2013 (Petcoke Contamination)

Southtown Star 11-4-2013 (Petcoke Contamination)

AG lawsuit: Refinery waste polluting SE Side neighborhoods

November 4, 2013
Southtown Star (southtownstar.suntimes.com) – Casey Toner

The Illinois Attorney General’s office is suing a shipping and storage operator, claiming mounting piles of an oil byproduct stored at its location along the Calumet River on Chicago’s Southeast Side are polluting the air.

The lawsuit asks a judge to fine the company and order it to take action to properly maintain the piles of a substance known as “pet coke,” which can contribute to respiratory health problems, according to a statement from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office.

KCBX Terminals Co. operates a shipping facility at 10730 S. Burley Ave. and manages piles of coal and petroleum coke, an oil refinery waste used for industrial energy in developing countries.

It contains high concentrations of carbon and sulfur and also may include trace elements of vanadium, nickel, chromium and lead.

Inhaling pet coke can contribute to respiratory health problems, particularly for individuals who suffer from heart and lung disease and asthma, the statement said. Residents have complained that the substance is being blown into their neighborhoods by the wind.

Madigan’s office filed the lawsuit Monday in Cook County Circuit Court, saying the company failed to maintain an operations plan for containing the pet coke and that KCBX relied on a plan created by the site’s former owner.

BP is working on a project to allow the oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., to triple the amount of petroleum coke produced, which will result in increased deliveries to the KCBX site.

“The piles of refinery waste at this site are growing by the day without the appropriate protections to ensure nearby residents’ health and safety,” Madigan said in the statement. “It’s critical that KCBX quickly installs safeguards to protect the surrounding community.”

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