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Open petcoke piles removed from Calumet River bank
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Open petcoke piles removed from Calumet River bank

Open petcoke piles removed from Calumet River

Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke representative Olga Bautista talks about uniting to protect the environment from giants like the BP Whiting Refinery at Lakefront Park in Whiting in May. KCBX says it has complied with a June 9th deadline set by the City of Chicago to remove petcoke piles from a terminal on Chicago's south side. BP now ships its petcoke to Kentucky and Virginia.

Open piles of petcoke have been removed from the banks of the Calumet River in Chicago.

A KCBX Terminals spokesman said the company removed petcoke piles by the June 9 deadline set by the City of Chicago, after petcoke dust blew through the neighborhood in 2013, raising public health concerns.

Calumet Region residents protested for years, and a few even went to jail while blockading the entrance to the petcoke facility in November during an act of civil disobedience. 

The Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, a powdery byproduct of the oil refining process, said it would continue to try to close the KCBX Terminals bulk freight facility, which is the last one remaining on the Calumet River. The group already successfully campaigned to get KCBX and Hammond-based Beemsterboer to close the two other petcoke-handling facilities on the far south side. BP has started shipping petcoke from its nearby Whiting Refinery to Kentucky and Virginia instead.

Southeast Side residents also recently won $1.4 million in a class-action lawsuit against KCBX and Beemsterboer.

"Since the city and the state intervened it was obvious to us that this stuff is bad for our health — why else would they have to remove their dirty petcoke?" Chicago Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke member James Kinney said. "When are we going to get a fair shake — we need jobs here that are not going to make us sick."

The coalition plans to continue to lobby for a total ban on petcoke on the southeast side, so it can't be shipped through their neighborhood on trains, barges and trucks. More than 86 percent of voters in Chicago's 10th Ward, which encompasses the Southeast Side neighborhood, voted for a complete prohibition during a non-binding referendum last year.

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Business Reporter

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.

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