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New Rules Could Keep Petcoke from Blowing in the Wind

New rules in Illinois are trying keep Petroleum coke, called petcoke, dust from migrating. Image by Roman Maurer.
New rules in Illinois are trying keep Petroleum coke, called petcoke, dust from migrating. Image by Roman Maurer.
February 20, 2014

CHICAGO – There's a new effort in Illinois to keep petcoke from blowing in the wind.

Petroleum coke, called petcoke, is a solid carbon material that resembles coal.

State House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie says she's heard complaints from her Chicago constituents about the material being stored on the city's southeast side.

"Winds blow the petcoke dust all over the house, all over the yard, making it very difficult for people to not only keep things clean but also creating questions about quality of life and health," she says.

Currie adds the particulate matter that comes from petcoke causes risks to people with asthma, congenital heart disease and can lead to other health problems.

Currie worked on new legislation announced Wednesday by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan that would require facilities to fully enclose the material if it is within 5,000 feet of communities.

Currie says it's critical to ensure the health and quality of life of all Illinoisans is protected.

"Every time there is a new threat, yes we have to be vigilant and yes we have to figure out how to regulate it so that it does not make unsafe the air that people breathe and the water that they drink," she stresses.

Currie adds that as they move forward with the new rules, state leaders are working with the industry.

"They have told us that they were working on materials that they believe could tamp down the likelihood that there would be dust afloat in the atmosphere,” she says. “Water guns, I think, is what they have talked about is their preferred solution. I don't know that that's adequate."

Last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans for a new ordinance to prohibit new petcoke facilities from opening in the city, a move that the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association says will cost jobs and impact the city's revenue.


Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL