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Illinois EPA files emergency rules for petcoke

Published: Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 11:52 p.m. CDT
(AP file photo)
The Willis Tower in downtown Chicago provides a backdrop to a huge mound of petroleum coke in a residential area in the southeast part of the city Oct. 25.

SPRINGFIELD – New emergency rules involving the storage of petroleum coke could go into effect as soon as next week, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency said.

The Illinois EPA filed the rules Thursday with the Illinois Pollution Control Board to deal with petroleum coke piles, although environmental groups have said it doesn’t go far enough.

Petroleum coke or “petcoke” is a black dust that is a byproduct of oil refining. Chicago residents raised environmental and health concerns after the dust blew into neighborhoods.

“Emergency action is necessary to address these piles of petroleum coke and ensure the protection of Illinois’ residents, air, land and water,” Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett said.

The rules will take effect after the state Pollution Control Board files them with the Illinois Secretary of State. The EPA said that could happen as soon as the board’s next meeting on Thursday.

The state and city are suing to stop the storage of petcoke along the Calumet River on Chicago’s Southeast Side.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Southeast Environmental Task Force said the emergency rules fall short.

“More action is needed from the [Gov. Pat Quinn’s] administration if they are going to match their stated goal to put a halt to this activity,” NRDC Midwest director Henry Henderson and task force director Peggy Salazar said in a joint statement.

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