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Community/Politics

Entries in pet coke storage facilities (1)

Tuesday
Apr082014

Chicago Bans New Pet Coke Storage Facilities And Prohibits The Expansion of Existing Ones

A new ordinance in Chicago is now in effect that bans new petroleum coke also known as pet coke facilities from being established within the city limits, and prohibits the expansion of existing facilities.

The Willis Tower in downtown Chicago provides a backdrop to a huge mound of petroleum coke, or pet coke, in a residential southeast part of the city. Photo courtesy of gazettenet.com, which was taken by Charles Rex Arbogast.

For those that don’t know what it is, pet coke is a solid carbon material that’s a byproduct of the oil refining process. Pet coke is used as a fuel source for a number of industries including power plants and factories.

Pet coke also has a lot of other uses. It’s a component in the production of electrodes used in furnaces of the steel and aluminum industries, and it’s also used as a component of anodes used in the aluminum, steel, and titanium industries.

The problem with all this is that pet coke is also very unhealthy to be around. Pet coke contains high concentrations of carbon and sulfur, and trace elements of metals including: lead, nickel, chromium, and vanadium. 

A concern of the Chicago Department of Public Health has been that, “Inhaling pet coke can contribute to serious respiratory health problems, particularly for individuals who suffer from heart and lung disease and asthma.”

Another issue the mayor’s office cited for approving the ordinance was that the airborne particles from the pet coke storage facilities created a dark sut that “blackened” vehicles and homes.

The mayor’s office added that these coke facilities have also had other detrimental effects on nearby communities – significantly impacting residents’ quality of life, as well as reducing property values and inhibiting economic development.

Beyond prohibiting existing coke storage facilities from expanding, the new ordinance will also require them to “fully enclose their storage piles.” The mayor’s office added that they will be required to “establish buildings to contain all of their materials.”

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