Ill. EPA alleges violations at South East Side pet coke piles

2013-10-30T17:30:00Z 2013-10-31T09:04:07Z Ill. EPA alleges violations at South East Side pet coke pilesTimes Staff nwitimes.com
October 30, 2013 5:30 pm  • 

CHICAGO | A Hammond-based company storing petroleum coke on Chicago's South East side has been cited for a host of alleged violations by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency last week issued a notice of violation to Beemsterboer Slag Corp., which stores petroleum coke along the Calumet River in the city's 10th Ward.

The petroleum coke, dubbed "pet coke," is transported by barge from BP's Whiting Refinery. U.S. Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Matteson, alleges the pet coke, which is stored outdoors, blows into Lake Michigan, the Calumet River and surrounding neighborhoods on windy days.

Kelly is co-sponsoring legislation calling for testing on petroleum coke's health and environmental impacts in light of the alleged violations.

"We need to better track and regulate pet coke," Kelly said. "I want to fully understand the possible negative health effects that pet coke presents so I'll know how best to help protect my constituents from these negative effects."

Petroleum coke is a black byproduct of oil refineries leftover when oil is extracted from Canadian tar sands.

The Illinois EPA says Beemsterboer Slag Corp. failed to obtain construction permits, an operating permit and to develop and submit a plan to significantly reduce particulate matter emissions, among other violations.

The pet coke piles are at 2900 E. 106th St. on the city's East Side.

The IEPA alleges the company also failed to submit an annual emissions for 2012, due May 1, and questions the accuracy of emissions reporting from 2000 through 2011.

Possible violations of federal emissions standards are also under investigation, IEPA spokesman Andrew Mason said.

The company has 45 days to develop and implement a plan ensuring compliance with air quality standards.

Beemsterboer Slag Corp. is based in Hammond with facilities in Gary and East Chicago. A spokesperson for the company could not be immediately reached for comment.

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