THE BLOG

Petcoke Pushback: Chicago Denies Enclosure Delay Request

02/17/2015 02:58 pm ET | Updated Apr 19, 2015

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Good on the City of Chicago. They are sticking to their guns on the petcoke issue as witnessed by the decision to deny a request from the petcoke pilers at KCBX to delay covering their mounds of petroleum waste on the Southeast Side.

The City's determination letter notes the denial is the result of a lack of information in the KCBX petition, but the City makes clear that the issues are more far more significant:

"Therefore, KCBX must provide more details regarding the steps it will take to provide strong protections for the community. IN particular, KCBX must identify additional measures it will take to protect residents who live near the North Terminal. KCMBX must also provide the Department with a plan for minimizing the risk of fugitive dust from the South Terminal should it be granted additional time to build the enclosure facility. Such a plan could include options such as the removal of petcoke piles until the completion of the enclosure facility."

In short, hop to it: enclose the petcoke pile on time -- and while you are at it do a better job of managing your mess in the meantime. The two year clock to enclose those big blowing mounds has been running for more than six months. And if the company doesn't plan to comply, the stuff has to move, rather than threaten the folks living nearby. From what I've heard on the Southeast Side, nothing would make neighbors happier -- they don't feel that facilities like these should be looming at the edge of their homes, parks and schools.

It is great to see the City staying firm on the issue and putting people before petcoke.

But despite this decision, under the City's current rules, the company can continue to operate as they have been doing for at least another year. That means more will need to be done to protect the community. And not just from the piles; but also the impacts from the ongoing assault of trains, barges, ships and trucks delivering the dusty mess to the doorsteps of Dunning, East Side and the rest of the Southeast Side of the city. There is more work to be done. We stand with groups like the Southeast Environmental Task Force pushing to ensure it gets done.

This post originally appeared on NRDC's Switchboard blog.