Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Enclose Chicago's Nasty Petcoke. Don't Send It Here

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Editorial: Enclose Chicago's Nasty Petcoke. Don't Send It Here

Article excerpt

Petroleum coke is a particularly nasty byproduct of oil refining that is stored briefly before being shipped to other countries where environmental laws are lax or nonexistent.

Chicago's got a bunch of "petcoke" it doesn't want to store. So it may be sent south. Some people in Chicago think the Metro East would be the perfect spot.

In a mostly working-class residential area along the Calumet River on the southeast side of Chicago are four-story high piles of petcoke. It's a powdery substance with an oily base that makes it sticky and hard to wipe off whatever it blows into or onto, which is just about everything in the neighborhood.

The stuff comes from a BP oil refinery in Whiting, Ind., which is refining substantial amounts of Canadian oil that is entering the Midwest. Refineries usually sell petcoke to other companies that store it until it can be loaded on ships in the Great Lakes for export to places such as China, where burning it is permitted.

If the piles were stored at the Indiana refinery, BP would have to enclose them, under the terms of a Clean Air Act permit and a federal legal settlement. The storage sites in Chicago aren't required to comply with the same stringent air pollution regulations.

The piles in Chicago are not enclosed, which is something that troubles Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who wants to move the petcoke out of the city. As an alternative to enclosing it, there has been talk of shipping it through various waterways to the Mississippi River and south to communities where it can be stored unenclosed until it can be exported.

East St. Louis and other areas in the Metro East have been mentioned as potential destinations because of the history of refining in the region. The ConocoPhillips refinery in Wood River is a stop along the Keystone Pipeline from Alberta. Small amounts of petcoke have been stored there without complaints. …

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