Petcoke is a by-product of crude oil refining. It is a thick, black, powdery dust that is being stored in huge mounds along the Calumet River on Chicago’s far southeast side 10th ward not far from the Indiana border.
Just across the border in Whiting, Indiana is the British Petroleum processing plant that produces the petcoke. Right now, the plant produces around 2,000 tons of the stuff every day, but that is set to rise to around 6,000 tons.
Residents of the mostly African-American and Latino 10th ward are angry because the dust blows around their neighborhood and covers everything with a layer of fine powder. They cannot open their windows. Each day they have to wipe the dust off of furniture, appliances, etc. Yet, even that is not good enough for the dust even enters homes through chimneys and furnaces. Dust gets in children’s eyes and cases of asthma are on the rise. A resident even said that her kid’s birthday party was ruined when some of the black dust blew into their backyard and covered the food, so they were forced to throw it out and end the celebration. There is also worry about the long-term effects of being exposed to whatever materials or elements are contained in the dust.
So far, the city of Chicago has been slow to react to the concerns of local residents. Mayor Emanuel has an ordinance on the table to regulate petcoke, but critics say that it contains a loophole that might allow companies to continue to store petcoke along the river.
A spokesman for 10th ward alderman John Pope said that ‘ they want to make sure they get everything right legally, not only to protect the area residents, but also the businesses involved’.
One of the installations involved is KCBX, owned by Koch Industries, which itself is owned the climate denying Koch brothers, Charles and David. The facility does have a large water sprinkler system in place that is designed to prevent the dust from spreading, but residents say that it does not do the job.
Tagged: , crude oil , refinery , coker , refining , pollution , tar sands , bitumen , dilbit , Calumet River , 10th Ward , Chicago , southeast side , working class , Latino , Black , African-American , dust , powder , nickel , mercury , vanadium , chromium , fuel grade , sulfur , sulphur , anode grade , carbon dioxide , hydrocarbon , cracking , south , Deering , Indiana , Koch Industries , BP , British Petroleum , toxic , toxins , neighborhood