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Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) announced today the issuance of a comprehensive set of regulations that will crack down on the harmful emission of petroleum coke, or “pet coke.” The new regulations require that facilities that store pet coke, coal, and other forms of coke to fully enclose their storage piles and that those companies provide the City with monthly reports as they implement the many health and safety measures established by CDPH.
“The tough regulations established today will hold facilities that handle pet coke accountable for their materials,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Chicago’s children and families can now enjoy the healthy, clean environment, protected from these materials. The public health of our communities is essential so pet coke operators must fully enclose their materials within a storage facility to operate within Chicago.”
The City will require facilities that handle pet coke and other coke facilities to establish storage buildings to contain all of their materials. Additionally, these facilities will be required to enclose all transfer points and conveyors, install monitors that can detect the emission of dust, tarp or cover all material-carrying trucks, and pave internal roads and conduct daily street sweeping to ensure cleaner transport of materials on site. Companies will have 90 days from today to submit plans for overall dust management and for establishment of the enclosure facility. The enclosure facility must be completed within two years of the submission of the plan, and the companies must provide the City with monthly progress updates. The regulations, which go into effect immediately, can be reviewed at www.cityofchicago.org/EnvironmentalRules.
“Just as we fought to shutter the two remaining coal power plants in the city of Chicago, we are working to force these petroleum coke facilities to either clean up or shut down,” said Mayor Emanuel.
These new regulations build upon Mayor Emanuel’s ongoing efforts to crack down on pet coke dust emissions, which contribute to serious respiratory health problems, particularly for individuals who suffer from heart and lung disease and asthma. According to a study conducted by CDPH, pet
coke is more likely to becoming airborne due to wind, where it can be inhaled by residents.
Furthermore, coal dust is well-documented to have negative health impacts. Due to these public health concerns, the City has imposed tougher regulations on coal, pet coke, and other forms of coke by requiring facilities that store these materials to fully enclose their materials.
"The city's regulations complement what we are seeking to do at the state level, with legislation proposing enclosures for certain facilities that handle pet coke and other refinery production materials," Attorney General Lisa Madigan said. "Through joint legal and legislative action, we will require these companies to clean up their acts and protect the health and safety of residents in Chicago and throughout Illinois."
In addition to the regulations issued today, the City has taken a number of other actions to crack down on pet coke. On March 5, 2014, the City introduced a zoning ordinance that would prohibit the establishment of new pet coke and coal facilities or the expansion of any existing facilities. Mayor Emanuel previously joined Attorney General Madigan in an agreed order that required pet coke storage operator Beemsterboer Slag Corp. to remove piles of the harmful refinery byproduct from its facility and to cease accepting additional materials while litigation proceeds against the company.
"These rules and regulations, along with the ordinance, result in a comprehensive process that puts the health and well-being of our families first,” said Alderman John A. Pope, 10th Ward. “These actions represent some of the most progressive and aggressive action by any city in the entire country."
“Regulating pet coke is crucial to safeguarding the health and safety of the community,” Congresswoman Robin Kelly, 2nd District said. “The city’s new regulations are a step in the right direction.”
In addition to the requirements for pet coke, coke, and coal, Chicago is one of the few jurisdictions in the country to include a set of common sense requirements for other facilities that store other bulk solid materials like ferro alloys, zinc, and graphite to ensure that these facilities operate cleanly. Facilities that store these materials will be required to restrict the heights of material piles to 30 feet or less, establish a dust suppressant system that uses water cannons or other delivery mechanisms to reduce dust emissions, tarp or cover all material-carrying trucks, and clean up any land spills within one hour and any water spills immediately.
“Petcoke is more than a growing nuisance, it is a lung irritant that exacerbates health problems like asthma,” said CDPH Commissioner Bechara Choucair, M.D. “By issuing these new regulations we are tackling the problem head on, helping to ensure our residents can continue to breathe clean air.”
CDPH is issuing the regulations following a 50-day public comment period in which the City received approximately 1600 pages of comments from more than 60 individuals and organizations. The City is now issuing regulations after an extensive analysis of all the comments received and after establishing a rationale for accepting or not accepting comments. Additionally, to inform the regulations, CDPH conducted a study that used an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved methodology to determine that, of the types of materials stored at facilities along the Calumet River on the South East side of Chicago, pet coke was most susceptible to becoming airborne during a high wind period. Finally, CDPH has drawn from documentation demonstrating negative the health impact of coal dust. The public can review the CDPH response to submitted comments and the City’s study at www.cityofchicago.org/EnvironmentalRules.
Pet coke is the solid by-product of petroleum refining which generally contains high concentrations of carbon and sulfur, and also may include trace elements of metals such as vanadium, nickel, chromium and lead.