The city's Department of Public Health denied a request by KCBX Terminals Company, owned by billionaire brothers and top Republican donors Charles and David Koch, for a 14-month extension to remove the giant heaps of petcoke currently sitting on the Southeast Side, according to the Sun-Times. A toxic by-product of oil refining, the substance has been observed coating the sides of homes in the nearby 10th Ward, as the massive piles that line the Calumet River at 10730 South Burley Avenue in South Deering sit near residential areas. By sticking with the original 2016 timetable given to the company to remove or enclose the petcoke piles, the city is pushing for quicker environmental cleanup. Or, as Mayor Emanuel was quoted in a press release, telling the Koch Brothers' company to "clean up or shut down."
The stance won plaudits from the NRDC and the city's suggestion to move the piles until the enclosures are complete sounds tough. But it's not clear it will change the situation any time soon, or quickly resolve one of the biggest environmental problems in the Chicagoland area. Even though KCBX may not have the time it needs to build a new enclosure for the petcoke piles, the company still has a year to continue business as usual. For many living in the area, black dust will still blow off the petcoke piles and make backyard barbecues a little less fun this summer. According to Dr. Julie Morita, the city's newly appointed health commissioner, the company still has time to make right, but needs to show more immediate action and mitigate air pollution.
·Emanuel denies KCBX request for more time to build petcoke storage facilities [Sun-Times]
·Previous Petcoke coverage [Curbed Chicago]