EPA issues air quality violation at petcoke facility in Southeast Chicago

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, KCBX Terminals Company, a petroleum coke storage facility located on Chicago’s Southeast side violated the Clean Air Act between February and May of 2014. With the help of states, tribes, and local governments, the Act’s mission, as stated on the EPA website, is “to ensure basic health and environmental protection from air pollution for all Americans.”

The EPA determined a violation through air monitoring data as well as dust wipe sampling from nearby homes.

In Chicago’s 10th ward, the petcoke piles (a byproduct of petroleum which can be used as a source of fuel) on the Calumet River have been a major concern for residents who live around the facility. However, in April of 2014, the City Council required the petcoke piles to be stored in containers within two years. They also agreed to mandate the study of health risks posed by exposed petcoke within three years.

KCBX’s response to this concern and violation is they claim to have worked with the EPA in November of 2013 to install various air monitors and weather stations on their facility site. They were intended to validate the effectiveness of dust equipment as a means to understand other potential sources of dust. Test results from air monitors showed increased levels of particulate matter, which could either be matter from vanadium/nickel or byproducts of petcoke.

In an official statement offered by George Czerniak, the director of the air and radiation division of the EPA’s Region 5 office in Chicago, he states, “EPA is issuing the [violation] in coordination with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (and other agencies) that are working to regulate the petroleum coke piles at KCBX.”