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Just How Big Are Chicago's Petcoke Piles? They're Enormous

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The enormous petroleum coke piles located on the far southeast side of Chicago still remain one of the greatest environmental and health risks to the city. And while there have been some major victories just this year, there is still a lot of work to do to ensure that the piles along the Calumet River are cleaned up. Petcoke is a waste product from refining oil, and is sent over from the Whiting Refinery in Indiana to be stored at the KCBX Terminals facility in Chicago. The substance has had a negative impact on air quality and public health in the areas where it is stored, and despite a tremendous pushback from Chicago residents and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, KCBX Terminals, a subsidiary of the Koch Brothers-owned Koch Industries, put up a big fight. However, BP has pledged to stop storing petcoke in Illinois and the waste byproduct is heading to other states now. According to Josh Mogerman of the Natural Resources Defense Council, KCBX's South Site is permitted to handle 11,000,000 tons of petcoke over a year. That's a staggering amount, but it might be tough to visualize. Here are some satellite shots from Google Earth of the enormous petcoke piles laid over some of Chicago's better known destinations.

Grant Park/Downtown:

Lincoln Park Zoo:

McCormick Place:

University of Chicago/Hyde Park:

Goose Island:

University of Illinois at Chicago:

Humboldt Park:

Montrose Beach:

We reached out to NRDC's Josh Mogerman to provide a little more insight on the petcoke situation:

KCBX operates two facilities on the Southeast Side. Their north site, near 100th and Commercial, is set to close this summer with all the petcoke removed and an order from the city banishing the oil refining waste from the property. Their south site, located near 108th and Burley, is supposed to undergo a conversion in the next year changing it from a petcoke and coal storage site, to a transfer point that would move the material between trains, barges and ships for transport. That means the piles will be gone from the area this time next year, but not necessarily the burden. Groups like the Southeast Environmental Task Force and Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke have done an amazing job of mobilizing their neighbors to take on some of the world's most powerful interests to retake their neighborhood. ·City Denies Koch Brothers More Time to Solve Petcoke Problem [Curbed Chicago]
·Koch Brothers Threaten to Sue Over New Petcoke Ordinance [Curbed Chicago]
·All previous petcoke coverage [Curbed Chicago]