Petcoke handlers settle class actions suits for $1.4 million

Five protesters were arrested after blockading a petcoke storage facility on Chicago’s Southeast Side last year. Petcoke handlers on Chicago’s Southeast Side have agreed to pay more than $1.4 million to settle a class-action lawsuit after residents were exposed to clouds of the dust.

Companies that handled petcoke on the Calumet River have agreed to pay more than $1.4 million to settle a class-action lawsuit after clouds of the black, powdery oil refining byproduct swept across Chicago's Southeast Side in 2014.

Residents sued KCBX Terminals, Koch Carbon, Chicago Fuels Terminal, Calumet Transload Railroad, and Hammond-based Beemsterboer Slag and Ballast Corp. for "failing to take reasonable and adequate measures to prevent petroleum coke and coal dust from contaminating communities located in Chicago, Illinois."

The companies agreed to pay $1.455 million into a settlement fund that will be divided among affected people who submit claim forms. People who own property between Torrence Avenue on the west, 95th Street on the north, the Illinois-Indiana border on the east and 114th Street on the south are eligible for cash payments.

Claims in the class-action lawsuit must be filed before Sept. 24.

Beemsterboer Slag Corp. and KCBX closed petcoke storage facilities on the Calumet River last year after the city, state and federal authorities cracked down, requiring that any petcoke be enclosed so winds couldn't again blow it around the residential neighborhood.

KCBX continues to operate a petcoke facility at 108th Street, where the grainy substance is shipped off so it can be burned in energy plants and steel mills, often abroad.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.