Bloomberg BNA – Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel expanded his public health campaign against petroleum coke and coal, vowing to introduce an ordinance that will ban new storage and processing facilities, and prohibit any expansion of existing facilities.
Emanuel, together with aldermen John Pope and Ed Burke, said Feb. 12 he will introduce an ordinance ensuring that Chicago does not become a “dumping ground’’ for petroleum coke, commonly called petcoke. Emanuel said the ordinance will be presented during the next City Council meeting scheduled for March 5.
The announcement comes as Chicago's Department of Public Health finalizes regulations that seek to minimize fugitive dust emissions from bulk material storage facilities housing petcoke, coal and pig iron. The regulations generally require operators to enclose their material to prevent fugitive emissions. The 50-day public comment period linked to the regulations closed Feb. 7.
“Protecting the health and safety of our residents is a top priority,’’ Emanuel said in a statement. “These efforts are a significant step to prevent dust from settling in residential areas. We will continue to work to regulate their operations to ensure our residents have the best possible quality of life.’’
KCBX Terminals Impacted
Emanuel's ordinance proposal would primarily impact KCBX Terminal Corp., which is owned and operated by industrialists Charles and David Koch. KCBX, which stores coal and petcoke on a 90-acre site on the Calumet River, is the target of an environmental lawsuit filed by Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
George J. Beemsterboer Inc. and Beemsterboer Slag Corp., which also store petcoke along the Calumet River, have agreed to remove their stocks of petcoke and cease accepting such wastes.
KCBX has said it will work with the Emanuel administration to ensure that its facilities control emissions of petcoke dust and protect residents living near its operations. The company has made substantial investments in the past year, including a $10 million dust suppression system.
Business Groups Support Company
Several business groups are supporting KCBX, questioning the environmental strategies being touted by Chicago and the state of Illinois. The Illinois Manufacturers' Association, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, the Chemical Industry Council of Illinois and the Illinois Petroleum Council recently called on Emanuel to revise the proposed petcoke public health regulations.
“KCBX is a good actor, and the City of Chicago is fortunate to have KCBX operating within its borders,’’ the associations wrote in their Jan. 9 letter letter to Emanuel. “We believe the new dust suppression system they have installed is working, leaving Chicago with only the effects of more jobs and additional local tax revenue.’’
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