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BP Tarsands Refinery Petcoke Piling Up in Chicago

News broke today that people on the Southeast Side of Chicago now have their own mountain of petcoke, and it is expected to triple by the end of the year.

ICYMI: BP tar sands refinery petcoke piles up in Chicago
Earlier this summer, people across the country were shocked to learn about the towering mountain of petcoke, a black and dusty tar sands byproduct with a high carbon content, that had piled up along the river in Detroit. Public outcry convinced the city to take measures to cover and move the pile—but that wasn’t the end of the petcoke story. News broke today that people on the Southeast Side of Chicago now have their own mountain of petcoke, and it is expected to triple by the end of the year.
Chicago Tonight’s video shows the size and scope of the petcoke problem, which is only beginning to make its presence known as the refinery finishes up a massive expansion which will triple its petcoke waste stream.
From the Chicago Tribune: “By the end of the year, the oil giant BP is expected to complete work on new equipment that will more than triple the amount of petroleum coke produced by its Whiting refinery on Lake Michigan. The project will turn the sprawling Indiana plant into the world’s second-largest source of petroleum coke, also known as petcoke, and Chicago into one of the biggest repositories of the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste.”
Petcoke is a byproduct of the tar sands refining process that is high in carbon, sulfur, and heavy metals. The dusty compound can cause breathing issues and other health problems for nearby communities.
According to the Tribune, “Residents say black clouds of dust blow off uncovered piles of petcoke and coal in the area so frequently that people are forced to keep their children inside with the windows closed.”
An Oil Change International report found that “there is 24 percent more co2 embedded in a barrel of tar sands bitumen than in a barrel of light oil” and that “the petcoke produced from the Keystone Xl pipeline would fuel 5 coal plants and produce 16.6 million metric tons of CO2 each year.”
 
Watch the video from Chicago Tonight to see the petcoke piles:

 

For more information, contact:
Josh Mogerman, jmogerman@nrdc.org
David Turnbull, david@priceofoil.org

 

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