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Dusting Off Debate On Chicago's Petcoke Problem

By JoshMogerman in News on Jan 12, 2014 9:30PM

Before the holidays, the uproar over mounds of oil refining waste near homes on the Southeast Side reached a crescendo with some high-profile responses.

Senator Durbin toured the petcoke piles along the Calumet River with state and federal EPA officials in tow and a promise to involve the CDC in investigations. Soon after, Mayor Rahm Emanuel rolled out regulations for handling of the black ashy petroleum remnants in Chicago with an admission that the City and State had dropped the ball in protecting the neighborhood.

Since then, Hammond-based Beemsterboer Slag literally shipped their petcoke piles out of town after they were busted for holding the material without proper permits. Multiple visits from one of the Great Lakes biggest bulk freighters has left their 106th Street facility looking like a dirty ghost town.

That success might seem like a happy ending to some.

But a public hearing set to discuss the City’s new petcoke regulations in the 10th Ward on Monday night could get raucous, as many in the area have made it clear that they want the mounds—as well as similarly polluting coal piles—out of their neighborhoods all together.

Having seen the pictures of black dusted windows inside homes, coated facades, and dust storms over nearby parks, we can’t argue with their concerns.

Inside or out, this stuff is bad news and shouldn't be held near residential areas.

Information on Monday night's hearing and other opportunities to comment on the City's petcoke regulations are available online at