A group of activists took U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL-5) through the environmental mire that is Chicago’s South Deering community as well as adjacent neighborhoods. During Tuesday’s tour, the environmentalists and area residents pointed out the towering, six-story piles of petcoke that are ruining their health and quality of life.
Locals have long referred to the area as Slag Valley — so named for the waste produced by the steel mills that defined the community for a century before leaving disappointment and economic blight. While the mills polluted the air and water, at least they provided jobs, residents say.
Now, they talk of the pollution that, they say, is as bad or worse than what was created by the steel mills, adding that the petcoke piles cause eye irritation, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and more. And, they noted, there is no economic benefit to the residents, who walked Quigley through the KCBX Terminals storage yard, even as they suffer from the presence of petcoke in their neighborhoods.
“The long-term solution is to move away from tar sands and dirty fuels,’’ said Quigley as he surveyed huge mounds of black petcoke at the Koch Brother-controlled KCBX storage yard. “The short-term solution is to get these piles of petcoke covered and lessen some of the immediate health concerns.’’