A company storing petcoke on Chicago's Southeast Side will not be granted a delay from the city to cover its piles of the oil refining byproduct, according to a Monday announcement from the mayor's office.
Prompted by health and environmental concerns raised by Southeast Side residents, the City of Chicago put regulations in place last year requiring petcoke facility operators to cover their piles of the gritty substance by 2016. But KCBX put in a request to delay installation of their petcoke plie enclosures to 2017.
On Friday, the Chicago Department of Public Health informed KCBX Terminals Company that it failed to make a reasonable case for an extension, adding that the firm "has not provided sufficient detail regarding steps it will take to ensure that the community will be adequately protected during delay in coming into full compliance with the regulations."
A Monday news release from the mayor's office adds that KCBX, which is controlled by the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, "lacked important information on fire prevention measures, storm water management and building code compliance."
The city's public health department also called on KCBX "to demonstrate its commitment to minimizing the impact of its operations on the surrounding community."
"From the beginning my message to the petcoke operators has been simple: clean up or shut down," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement. "KCBX needs to demonstrate that it will take serious steps to reduce the impact of its operations on the residents of the Southwest side or it has no place in any part of Chicago."
Henry Henderson, Midwest director of the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued the following statement in response to the city's denial of KCBX's variance request:
The city is rightly sticking to their guns on enclosure, making it simple for KCBX. The company needs to enclose the piles at the edge of Southeast Siders' homes, parks, and schools on time. If it can't even meet this deadline, it should get out of town. The neighbors would rightly like to see them go--and we agree that facilities like this have no place in such close proximity to our communities.
"Despite this decision, under the city's current rules, the company can continue to operate as they have been doing for at least a year. More will need to be done to protect the community from the impacts of these piles, as well as the trains, barges, ships and trucks delivering the dusty mess.