[Chicago, IL]- Congresswoman Robin Kelly announced today that she supports the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s action to issue notices of air pollution violations against a South Side company for stockpiling mountains of petroleum coke, or “pet coke,” in Chicago’s 10th Ward.
Rep. Kelly is a co-sponsor of legislation calling for testing of the health and environmental effects of petroleum coke, a black, pebbly byproduct of oil refineries that is left over from oil extracted from the Canadian “tar sands.” Pet coke is dirtier and dustier than coal and as such contains more air and water pollutants.
“We need to better track and regulate pet coke. I want to fully understand the possible negative health effects that pet coke presents so I’ll know how best to help protect my constituents from these negative effects,” Rep. Kelly said. “I look forward to working with state and local officials in formulating new national environmental safety regulations on pet coke.”
The pet coke mountains in the 10th Ward were barged there from the BP refinery in nearby Whiting, Indiana. The pet coke is stored outside and blows into Lake Michigan, the Calumet River and the surrounding neighborhoods on windy days.
On Thursday, the Illinois EPA issued a notice of violation to Beemsterboer Slag Co., which stockpiles pet coke along the Calumet River on the South Side. Pet coke is an emerging environmental concern in the 2nd District and throughout the United States as more refineries convert their gasoline production lines from crude oil to oil sands. There are still many unknowns about this new technology, including its environmental and health impacts as well as the proper methods of transporting and disposing of pet coke.