WBEZ | pet coke http://www.wbez.org/tags/pet-coke Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: The cloistered life http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-05/morning-shift-cloistered-life-109812 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Cover Flickr S John Davey.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We get a preview of a Chicago City Council vote on the oil refining byproduct known as petcoke. Also, the life of a cloistered nun. Plus, the Americana sounds of Chicago&#39;s Will Phalen.</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-the-cloistered-life" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: The cloistered life" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 08:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2014-03-05/morning-shift-cloistered-life-109812 Pet coke only the latest pollution threat on the Southeast side http://www.wbez.org/news/pet-coke-only-latest-pollution-threat-southeast-side-109811 <p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expected to introduce an ordinance Wednesday calling for stricter controls over petroleum coke, aka pet coke. It comes a day after Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a new lawsuit against KCBX, a company that stores pet coke on Chicago&rsquo;s Southeast Side.</p><p>Many residents there believe the giant piles of pet coke along the Calumet River have had an adverse effect on their health. But some officials say pet coke is only the tip of the ash heap when it comes to industrial pollution in the area and the respiratory problems it may cause.</p><p>Problems such as asthma, which can be a nagging health issue for some, but is a life-threatening condition for Liz Martin.</p><p>&ldquo;I take medication every day to help control it but when it gets really bad then there&rsquo;s different medications and machines that I have to take for like immediate care but there&rsquo;s like controller medications that I have to take everyday for who knows how long,&rdquo; says the 21-year-old Martin, who&rsquo;s studying computer science at Saint Xavier University Chicago.</p><p>And while most Chicagoans can&rsquo;t wait for winter to be over, Liz knows warmer temps could make things worse.<br /><br />&ldquo;When the weather starts getting better and the winds start picking up, I get flu, colds, pneumonia, everything. My allergies just go crazy and I don&rsquo;t know how to handle it. It&rsquo;s not something that medication can really handle,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Beyond the weather, there&rsquo;s another problem. Liz and her mother Lilly live just a few blocks from KCBX&rsquo;s pet coke storage site along the Calumet River.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Beyond%20Pet%20coke%203.jpg" style="margin: 5px; float: left; width: 233px; height: 310px;" title="Liz and Lilly Martin at their Southeast Chicago home. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" />That&rsquo;s where this whole controversy started last August when high winds caused the pet coke to blow all over the neighborhood. Caught on video, the black dust-like substance looked like a swarm of locusts.</p><p>Pet coke isn&rsquo;t new to this area. It&rsquo;s been used for decades by local steel mills. In fact, Lilly Martin remembers gathering it in buckets for her parents who used it as dirt.</p><p>&ldquo;At that time, we used to walk by the bridge and we would get it but we never knew that pet coke was bad, and we would get it,&rdquo; Lilly Martin said. &ldquo;Maybe that&rsquo;s why my mom and dad, they were young, they died 65, 60.&rdquo;</p><p>Martin is one of several Southeast Side residents suing KCBX for creating a health hazard and diminishing property values. Meanwhile, politicians are tripping over themselves to show support for the residents of this often neglected corner of the city.</p><p>Those who have paid a visit in recent weeks include Illinois U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, Gov. Pat Quinn and Attorney General Lisa Madigan.</p><p>Mayor Emanuel also visited in January.</p><p>Today, he&rsquo;s expected to formally introduce an ordinance to prevent any new or expanded pet coke operations in the city.&nbsp;</p><p>That could directly affect KCBX, which has been in the city for 20 years although it only acquired its facility near the 106th Street Bridge in December 2012. The company has a contract with oil giant BP&rsquo;s nearby Whiting, Indiana refinery to store the pet coke before it is transported overseas.</p><p>Facing litigation and pressure, KCBX says it has increased its dust control systems. It points to a new multi-million dollar sprinkler system that prevents pet coke from blowing away.</p><p>KCBX spokesman Jake Reint says the company may go even further.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re willing to even cover the facility. The bottom line is we respect and understand the community&rsquo;s concerns,&rdquo; Reint said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to make every effort to address those concerns.&rdquo;</p><p>But even if the mayor&rsquo;s pet coke ordinance is adopted, some say this area will still be plagued by pollution.</p><p>&ldquo;Eliminating one thing, isn&rsquo;t going to solve the problem. It&rsquo;s not going to go away,&rdquo; says Brian Urbaszewski, director of environmental health programs with the Respiratory Health Association of Chicago. &ldquo;Getting rid of the pet coke piles would obviously benefit the area, but there&rsquo;s a lot more work to do other than just trying to clean up the KCBX situation.&rdquo;</p><p>The RHA tracks pollution sources in the city and its effects on people&rsquo;s health.</p><p>Urbaszewski says its worth remembering that the South East Side has been the city&rsquo;s industrial corridor for more than a century. And its probably no coincidence that it has some of the highest asthma rates in Illinois.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s just a lot of train traffic, there&rsquo;s a lot of truck traffic that goes through here and it&rsquo;s one of the few places in Chicago that actually gets ship traffic,&rdquo; Urbaszeweski said. &ldquo;And then you have a huge powerhouse of industrial emissions coming from just over the border in Indiana. All that contributes to what you see here on the Southeast side.&rdquo;</p><p>While pollution is a prime suspect for the area&rsquo;s high asthma and cancer rates, no one knows for sure.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Triggers can be the weather, the environment, certainly genetics plays a role, environmental issues, allergens, toxins, the common cold,&rdquo; Dr. Max Gilles, head of the emergency department at nearby Advocate Trinity Hospital.</p><p>Advocate&rsquo;s Emergency Department. sees about 40,000 patients a year &mdash; nearly 1 in 10 come in due to asthma.</p><p>But that&rsquo;s not all.</p><p>&ldquo;We see a 17 percent higher rate of heart disease than in the Chicago rate area itself; greater than 50 percent higher cancer rate, which can include breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate than the Chicago rate. And, greater 53 percent high stroke rate,&rdquo; Gilles says. &ldquo;So we see a lot of sick patients.&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Beyond%20Pet%20coke%202.jpg" style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px;" title="Dr. Max Gilles of Advocate Trinity Hospital handling an asthma breathing device with respiratory therapist Belinda Brown. (WBEZ/Michael Puente)" /></div><p>Dr. Gilles is quick to point out that it&rsquo;s hard to prove a direct correlation between industry and illness, but he says it wouldn&rsquo;t hurt to eliminate some possible contributors.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;Certainly when I do drive in - whether it&rsquo;s to work or other places - you do see smoke stacks, exhausts fumes from cars and it&rsquo;s certainly a concern,&rdquo; Gilles says. &ldquo;If you eliminate that source, I don&rsquo;t think it would eliminate all asthma or chronic disease related to that possibility but it would certainly point it in the right direction.&rdquo;</p><p>Back at the Martins&rsquo; home, Lilly shows me some breathing contraptions that Liz uses for her asthma.</p><p>Even if there&rsquo;s no direct link, she&rsquo;s convinced eliminating the nearby pet coke would help. As proof, she points to the expensive air filters that keeps the inside air clean for her daughter.</p><p>&ldquo;You shouldn&rsquo;t have to change these filters in less than six months, and we were changing it every two to three weeks. That&rsquo;s how black those filters are,&rdquo; she says.</p><p>Meanwhile Liz Martin doesn&rsquo;t go outside much. She often sits at her front window watching the world go by, and waiting for things to change.</p><p>When asked if it makes her feel better knowing the city is trying to do something, Liz says, &ldquo;Yea it does cause I mean it&rsquo;s better for everyone. The little kids that have to grow up here. Everyday I look outside, there&rsquo;s like 4 or 5 year olds hanging out. They don&rsquo;t have an immune system to work up to it. It just makes me feel better that they might get some help.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 05 Mar 2014 07:56:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/pet-coke-only-latest-pollution-threat-southeast-side-109811 Emanuel: Pet coke handlers 'not wanted' in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pet-coke-handlers-not-wanted-chicago-109694 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Rahm Petcoke 1.jpeg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday that he will propose an ordinance concerning pet coke at next month&rsquo;s City Council meeting. The goal is to make it difficult for the handlers of the petroleum by-product to operate within the city.</p><p>By doing so, Emanuel is taking direct aim at KCBX Terminals Inc., located along the Calumet River on the Southeast side, a longtime industrial area surrounded by mostly low income minority residents.<br /><br />The firm has been under heavy scrutiny from residents and politicians since last summer when high winds caused the dust-like petroleum coke to blow into nearby homes.</p><p>&ldquo;Through the regulations we&rsquo;re going to put in, it&rsquo;s going to be very expensive to operate here and therefore they are going to choose to leave,&rdquo; Emanuel told WBEZ on Wednesday. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to make sure the ordinance puts up a &lsquo;not wanted&rsquo; sign in the City of Chicago as it relates to pet coke.&rdquo;<br /><br />The proposed ordinance would prohibit new pet coke, coke, and coal facilities from opening in the City of Chicago and ban expansions of existing facilities. If approved, it would prevent any new or expanded pet coke operations, including processing, transporting, storing or handling of the material.<br /><br />This would have a direct impact on KCBX which has a contract to handle thousands of tons of pet coke trucked in daily from BP&rsquo;s Refinery in Whiting, Indiana.<br /><br />The amount KCBX receives from BP could increase threefold since a modernization project at the Whiting plant recently installed a new coker that will ramp up production from 2,000 tons of pet coke daily to 6,000 tons a day.<br /><br />Emanuel says he&rsquo;s pushing for the ordinance because the dust-like pet coke prevents residents on Chicago&rsquo;s far southeast side from enjoying life outdoors. That was the concern late last August when high winds caused much of the ash-like pet coke to blow into people&rsquo;s yards.</p><p>&ldquo;You&rsquo;re sitting in the backyard having a picnic, you get up and come back and your plate is black. And it&rsquo;s a sense that people could not live in their own neighborhood without inhaling this product or it being all over their clothes or all over their food. And that&rsquo;s just not how people are supposed to live in the City of Chicago,&rdquo; Emanuel said.<br /><br />Even with the ordinance, Emanuel says the city is still industry friendly.</p><p>&ldquo;You can manufacture, you can build, you can do all the things you want to do here in the City of Chicago. And, we have companies that are thriving, just like the Ford plant, not too far from there, but they are good corporate citizens,&rdquo; Emanuel said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s what I&rsquo;m looking for, somebody who wants to create jobs and be a part of the community in all aspects. Dumping an environmental product that damages our health is not something that we want to welcome.&rdquo;<br /><br />KCBX Terminals says it has invested millions in upgrades to its facility along the Calumet River that will eliminate pet coke from becoming airborne. The system was not in place during the incident last August.<br /><br />Company spokesman Jake Rient says KCBX is reviewing the ordinance and trying to determine the implications on its operations, which employs about 40 people.<br /><br />&ldquo;As a company, we are always concerned when we hear mayors say they don&rsquo;t want to see business invest in their city. We don&rsquo;t think that&rsquo;s the right message,&rdquo; Rient said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re really committed to to doing the right thing and we&rsquo;ve been open to working with the city and address our neighbors&rsquo; concerns.&rdquo;<br /><br />Meanwhile, the Illinois Manufacturers Association says Emanuel&rsquo;s proposal is unnecessary and will cost jobs.<br /><br />&quot;This ordinance is a solution in search of a problem. Unfortunately, the approach outlined today will cost Chicago jobs and revenue at a time when they are struggling economically.&nbsp; The Illinois Manufacturers&#39; Association does not believe that there is any justification for banning or arbitrarily limiting the processing, storage, transport or handling of petcoke in Chicago.&nbsp; According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, petcoke is not hazardous &ndash; in fact, it is a valued commodity that has broad application in the manufacturing sector,&rdquo; said Mark Denzler, vice president and COO of the IMA.<br /><br />The issue of pet coke has lead to a lawsuit filed by residents living near the plant and others filed by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.<br /><br />A lawsuit brought by Madigan forced Hammond, Indiana-based Beemsterboer Slag Company, which has operations on the Southeast side, to agree to stop taking in any more pet coke from KCBX Terminals. KCBX Terminals is owned by the wealthy conservative Koch Brothers.<br /><br />Tom Shepherd of the Southeast Environmental Task Force, has a wait-and-see attitude when it comes to Emanuel&rsquo;s proposal.<br /><br />&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve been trying to sqeeze KCBX out, kick them out and legislate them out or whatever it would take. We would be very happy if that were the result,&rdquo; Shepherd said. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re unsure if this ordinance will be open to challenge. We would have liked to see an ordinance to banish pet coke from the city. We&rsquo;re still hoping to see the pet coke gone.&rdquo;<br /><br />Despite it being six months since the first major episode of flying pet coke, Shepherd said the substance is still turning up in and around the neighborhood.<br /><br />Last month, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn tried and failed to implement a statewide emergency order to severely restrict the handling and storage of pet coke at facilities around the state.<br /><br />The Illinois Pollution Control Board rejected his emergency plea. Board members say the Governor&rsquo;s new guidelines will go through the regular channels of consideration.&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 12 Feb 2014 18:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-pet-coke-handlers-not-wanted-chicago-109694 KCBX defends pet coke operation on Chicago's Southeast side http://www.wbez.org/news/kcbx-defends-pet-coke-operation-chicagos-southeast-side-109199 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Pet coke (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Bowing to pressure from residents, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency will not approve a construction permit for KCBX Terminals Inc. In recent weeks the company has been at the center of a controversy over its handling of the ash-like substance known as &ldquo;pet coke.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;After the overwhelming response, and in recognition of the various legal and regulatory deliberations still taking place, the IEPA has decided to not issue the construction permit to KCBX this week,&rdquo; Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett said in a written statement Tuesday. &ldquo;The Illinois EPA will continue working with the community and other government officials to ensure that a comprehensive solution is reached that will protect human health and the environment.&rdquo;</p><p>Bonnett&rsquo;s announcement came on the heels of a Tuesday morning protest by a dozen Southeast side residents who oppose KCBX because of the pet coke dust they say has been polluting their neighborhood. Huge piles of pet coke are stored on KCBX property along the Calumet River. The black powdery dust is a byproduct of refining crude oil and often used as a cheap fuel in overseas markets.</p><p>Bonnett spoke Tuesday morning before the Union League Club of Chicago where a handful of residents arrived beforehand with makeshift signs chanting &ldquo;Pet coke makes us choke!&rdquo; The IEPA director said she met with the protesters following her speech.</p><p>Tom Shepherd, who works with the Southeast Side Environmental Task Force, was among them.</p><p>&ldquo;Our area is getting dumped on. The folks are upset over it. It&rsquo;s a blight on our neighborhood. It&rsquo;s dangerous, it&rsquo;s toxic, it&rsquo;s polluting our area. And we&rsquo;ve pretty much had enough of it,&rdquo; Shepherd said.</p><p>KCBX is already facing two lawsuits filed in recent weeks; One filed by four Southeast side residents and another by the Illinois Attorney General. Tuesday&rsquo;s action to deny KCBX an approval for its construction permit is likely to do little to stop operations at the company.</p><p>Laurie C. McCausland, deputy general counsel for Koch Companies Public Sector, LLC., the parent company of KCBX, says the permit was simply to move conveyor belts from one facility to another.</p><p>In a sit down meeting with WBEZ Tuesday, McCausland provided KCBX&rsquo;s first response to the pet coke dust storm that engulfed the Southeast side and South Deering neighborhoods in late August during a major thunderstorm. McCausland wasn&rsquo;t ready to admit that the dust storm came from KCBX&rsquo;s property.</p><p>&ldquo;I do understand that there was a very significant wind event. I do understand that visually there was a dust storm. What that was...I have no idea.&rdquo; McCausland said.</p><p>McCausland said at the time of the dust storm, a new $10 million, state-of-the-art automated dust suppression system was not yet in place at its South facility at 10730 South Burley Avenue, a plant surrounded by homes. In fact, the new system only came on line two weeks ago.</p><p>It involves 42 water cannons, up from six, oscillating on 60-foot-high poles. The cannons are supposed to douse the pet coke piles with up to 1,800 gallons of water per minute to keep it from blowing away.</p><p>McCausland says the system can anticipate wind speed and wind direction and if the conditions are right for a storm. The water sprayed on the piles is collected into two retention ponds on site. She said the system was operating Sunday when much of the Chicago area experienced heavy winds and rain.</p><p>&ldquo;With the system we have in place today, if we have another wind event, we hope to have a very good experience,&rdquo; McCausland said. &ldquo;We think this new system is going to provide very good protection for this product. We&rsquo;re two weeks in and we kind of want to see how it works. We&rsquo;re hopeful that it&rsquo;s going to provide good protection.&rdquo;</p><p>McCausland, who is based in Wichita, Kansas, emphasized KCBX&rsquo;s long relationship with the Southeast side. KCBX has operated its North facility there for more than 20 years.</p><p>In December, KCBX, owned by the wealthy Koch Brothers, purchased its South facility previously owned by DTE Chicago Fuels Terminal. The company employs about 40 workers. In July, the City of Chicago issued a construction permit to allow it to begin installing its dust suppression system, according to the company.</p><p>McCausland said the company stores both coal and pet coke, which reaches its property by truck from BP&rsquo;s refinery in nearby Whiting, Indiana. BP processes about 2,000 tons of pet coke every day. Once it&rsquo;s new advanced coker is brought on line in the coming months, BP will process up to 6,000 tons of pet coke every day. BP contracts with KCBX Terminal to store the pet coke, which eventually is sent to other markets via barge.</p><p>McCausland said she did not know if KCBX will handle all of BP&rsquo;s new pet coke production. She says hugh piles at the site may have developed since workers were moving some of the pet coke to clear other areas of the company&rsquo;s property. Overall, she said, the product is safe.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s unfair for people to be overly scared about this product,&rdquo; McCausland said. &ldquo;I think people just don&rsquo;t have a lot of information.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 20 Nov 2013 10:03:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/kcbx-defends-pet-coke-operation-chicagos-southeast-side-109199 Illinois officials under fire for pet coke issue http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-officials-under-fire-pet-coke-issue-109161 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/pet-coke-1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr">Carrying protest signs and chanting &ldquo;move the piles,&rdquo; more than a hundred Southeast Side and South Deering residents arrived at East Side United Methodist Church on Thursday evening to demand action from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.</p><p dir="ltr">They want the IEPA to force the shutdown of KCBX Terminal Inc. and other related companies for their involvement in the handling, storage and processing of tons of pet coke and coal ash.</p><p dir="ltr">The substances have been blowing around the neighborhood in recent months, damaging homes and affecting health, residents say.</p><p dir="ltr">The coal ash is transported to the KCBX site off the Calumet River from local steel companies. The pet coke, meanwhile, is transported to the site from Whiting, Indiana, the home of oil giant BP.</p><p dir="ltr">BP generates about two thousand tons of petroleum coke every day, but by early next year, that is expected to increase to six thousand tons of pet coke every day. Much of it will be transported by truck and rail to KCBX, a company owned by the wealthy Koch Brothers.</p><p dir="ltr">BP has a contract with KCBX to store the pet coke, which is later shipped by barge to countries like China and Mexico as a cheap fuel alternative.</p><p dir="ltr">Southeast Chicago resident Carol Bernatis says the pet coke should stay with BP in Whiting.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We need state laws to keep Indiana from transporting that stuff into Illinois,&quot; Bernatis said.&nbsp;&quot;Keep this stuff in Indiana where it belongs.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Ken Page, Environmental Justice Officer for the IEPA, says despite recent media reports of blowing and drifting pet coke, the state agency has yet to receive one documented complaint about it.</p><p dir="ltr">That drew jeers from the crowd, as did Page&rsquo;s announcment that the IEPA has until next week to decide whether to grant KCBX a permit to operate.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You have to give them an answer in one week?&rdquo; asked an incredulous Guillermo Rodriguez. &ldquo;Where were you when this all started, when this all began, where were you then?&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">Page says it&rsquo;s likely a decision about KCBX&rsquo;s permit will be delayed beyond next week.</p><p dir="ltr">KCBX also contracts with other local companies for assistance, such as Beemsterboer Slag Company, of Hammond, Indiana. The Illinois EPA has filed a complaint with Beemsterboer for allegedly violating environmental laws. BP does not have a contract with Beemsterboer.</p><p dir="ltr">The Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s office filed a lawsuit against KCBX last week on behalf of the Illinois EPA. KCBX is also facing a lawsuit by four residents who say they&rsquo;re suffering health issues because of the blowing pet coke.</p><p dir="ltr">Although it did not send anyone to attend Thursday night&rsquo;s meeting, a KCBX spokesman says it is working to correct the problem.</p><blockquote><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;The pending permit with IEPA is part of our efforts to enhance operations at the site since we purchased it in December 2012. &nbsp;This coincides with more than $10 million in upgrades currently being implemented to improve the site&rsquo;s dust suppression capabilities. &nbsp;The permit does not include any increase in the amount of material to be handled on-site nor does it change currently permitted emissions levels,&rdquo; stated KCBX spokesman Paul Baltzer. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We have a long history of working cooperatively with the EPA and the IEPA on assets we&#39;ve purchased, making significant investments to upgrade the operations,&rdquo; Baltzer said. &ldquo;This demonstrates that we put a priority on regulatory compliance and managing operations in a manner that protects the health and safety of employees, the community, and the environment.&rdquo;</p></blockquote><p dir="ltr">10th Ward Alderman John Pope says the city and state are both considering forcing KCBX to enclose its facility so that the pet coke cannot escape. Enclosed facilities are the norm in Detroit and in California where pet coke dust has also been an issue.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;We&rsquo;re trying to work with the IEPA and the attorney general to make the most immediate action to stop the action that is occurring right now &mdash; which is the dust emissions and activities which is not in compliance with the law,&rdquo; Pope said.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;Long term folks don&rsquo;t want the piles here. We have to figure out what we really can do to either not get them in but if they are going to remain here how they can be controlled and not produce the kinds of problems that everyone is concerned about.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ Reporter Michael Puente on Twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/@MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews</a> and on Facebook at the <a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/WBEZ-Northwest-Indiana-Bureau/701257506570573">WBEZ/Northwest Indiana Bureau page</a>.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 15 Nov 2013 11:08:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/illinois-officials-under-fire-pet-coke-issue-109161 Morning Shift: Affordable Care Act continues to raise questions for consumers http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-15/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-raise <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr MDGovpics.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>We examine how President Obama&#39;s recent change to the Affordable Care Act will affect consumers and we take your questions on the law. Comedian Steve Byrne tells us why he loves Chicago. And, we ask why advertisers aren&#39;t more aggressively targeting African-Americans?&nbsp;</p><div class="storify"><iframe allowtransparency="true" frameborder="no" height="750" src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-to-be/embed?header=false" width="100%"></iframe><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-to-be.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-to-be" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Affordable Care Act continues to raise questions for consumers" on Storify</a>]</noscript></div></p> Fri, 15 Nov 2013 08:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-11-15/morning-shift-affordable-care-act-continues-raise Attorney General Madigan files lawsuit against Koch brothers’ firm http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/attorney-general-madigan-files-lawsuit-against-koch-brothers%E2%80%99-firm-109079 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP120209138862 (1).jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Illinois Attorney General&rsquo;s office filed a lawsuit Monday against KCBX Terminal Co. of Chicago, for allegedly releasing pet coke on the city&rsquo;s far Southeast side.</p><p>The suit was filed in Cook County Circuit Court.</p><p>Natalie Bauer, spokeswoman for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, says the lawsuit is intended to get KCBX to keep the dust-like substance from flying into homes and businesses around the Calumet River.</p><p>&ldquo;The piles of refinery waste at this site are growing by the day without the appropriate protections to ensure nearby residents&rsquo; health and safety,&rdquo; Madigan said in a written statement. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s critical that KCBX quickly installs safeguards to protect the surrounding community.&rdquo;</p><p>KCBX Terminals is a subsidary of Koch Industries. The attorney general&#39;s lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, which is investigating KCBX and other firms with ties to the company.</p><p>The company is contracted by oil giant BP to store tons of pet coke, a by-product from refining crude oil.&nbsp;Pet coke, short for petroleum coke, is often used as a low cost fuel in overseas markets.&nbsp;</p><p>BP trucks in the pet coke from its refinery in Whiting, Indiana, a short distance from the Southeast side.</p><p>According to the lawsuit, the company receives coal by rail, truck, barge or vessel and stores it in large, uncovered piles on its 90 acre property.</p><p>The coal is believed to be coming from local steel manufacturers. The pet coke and coal ash is virtually indistinguishable from each other but is very ash-like and can float into the air. &nbsp;</p><p>Between December 2012 and last August, KCBX had six 35-foot high water sprinklers to control dust in the southwest portion of the site and one 8,000 gallon water truck to control dust from the pet coke.&nbsp;The attorney general alleges that KCBX &ldquo;threatened or caused&rdquo; emission of dust from the pet coke and coal piles due to unloading and loading of the substance.</p><p>On Aug. 30, &ldquo;a visible cloud of black dust from the petroleum coke and coal located at the site was observed off-site blowing into the surrounding residential neighborhood,&rdquo; the lawsuit states.</p><p>The dust, also known as particulate matter, can get into people&rsquo;s eyes, can be inhaled and threatens human health. The lawsuit orders KCBX to undertake all necessary corrective action to prevent the release of the dust.</p><p>The attorney general says KCBX could be subjected to civil penalties of $50,000 for each violation of pollution laws and an additional penalty of $10,000 a day for each violation.</p><p>KCBX declined comment on the lawsuit filed by Madigan&rsquo;s office but referred to its original statement from last month when residents began to complain about the dust.<br />.<br />&ldquo;KCBX Terminals Co. has handled various bulk products, including pet coke, in Chicago for more than 20 year,&quot; the statement said. &quot;In December of 2012, KCBX acquired the Chicago Fuels Terminal from DTE Energy Co. We are in the final stages of constructing more than $10 million in upgrades, including improvements to the dust suppression capabilities. KCBX puts a priority on regulatory compliance and managing operations in a manner that protects the health and safety of employees, the community, and the environment</p><p>The Attorney General&rsquo;s lawsuit comes on the heals of four Southeast side families filing a lawsuit against KCBX and several other defendants who are owned by Koch Industries or are assisting KCBX with the handling of the pet coke and coal.</p><p>In addition, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint last week against Beemsterboer for failing to cover its own piles of ash and for not filing necessary reports with the state.</p><p>Beemsterboer is based in Hammond, Indiana and has been in business for 70 years, mostly handling steel slag, another byproduct in the steelmaking process that is often used in concrete.</p><p>Beemsterboer officials have not responded to repeated attempts for comment.</p><p><em>Follow WBEZ reporter Michael Puente&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews" target="_blank">@MikePuenteNews</a>&nbsp;and on&nbsp;<a href="https://www.facebook.com/pages/WBEZ-Northwest-Indiana-Bureau/701257506570573?ref=br_tf" target="_blank">Facebook</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 05 Nov 2013 10:39:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/sections/water/attorney-general-madigan-files-lawsuit-against-koch-brothers%E2%80%99-firm-109079