People Over Petcoke: Chicago Denies Rule Exceptions

CHICAGO—(ENEWSPF)–December 10, 2014 – As mounds of oil refining waste continue to loom near homes, parks and schools on Chicago’s Southeast Side, the City of Chicago today rejected requests for looser regulation of petcoke and coal piles in the area. The City rejected variance requests from KCBX which would have allowed petcoke to be piled 50% higher than current rules, raising concerns about more of this material blowing into the surrounding neighborhoods, as well as the use of uncovered conveyers which would also potentially send particulate matter flying. In addition, an ordinance was sent to City Council which would tighten regulations governing facilities holding and transporting these materials.

Following is reaction from Henry Henderson, Midwest Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and a former Commissioner of the Environment for the City of Chicago:

“Denying these variance requests was the right decision and we hope that the City will take a similar approach to KCBX’s effort to delay enclosing its facility for years.

“The ordinance introduced in City Council today makes clear that despite the petcoke pilers’ happy talk, the City agrees with KCBX’s neighbors that the impact of these facilities remains a significant concern.

“The City is rightly putting people before petcoke. The rejection of key variance requests and language in the ordinance make clear that Chicago is not going to be pushed around. There is a lot more to do to safeguard Southeast Siders and correct the unacceptable conditions around these dirty facilities. We hope the City will follow through on today’s action in City Council to impose stringent limits on how much petcoke can be shipped through these facilities each month.”

The City action can be found at

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.


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