There are ocean people and mountain people, but I’m willing to bet no one in the latter category wants to live near petroleum coke mountains. Residents of Chicago certainly don’t, but that hasn’t kept KCXB Terminals, a company owned by the Koch brothers, from storing massive exposed heaps of petcoke on the city’s Southeast Side. The black dust, a by-product of refining oil, gets blown hither and yon, coating the surrounding neighborhood with a layer of lung-damaging particles.
To give a sense of the scale of these things, Curbed Chicago put together aerial views that compare the size of the dust mountains against some of the city’s best-known haunts. As you can see, they are—quite literally—a black spot on the cityscape.
The Southeast Side won a minor victory in February when KCXB announced it would close one of its sites and leave the other open as a transfer facility—the transportation of the stuff is still a concern, but the decision at the very least proves that ordinary citizens can move mountains.
Lincoln Park Zoo
University of Illinois at Chicago
All images courtesy Curbed Chicago
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Petroleum coke, typically stored outdoors in big open piles, can blow right into nearby homes and cause serious health problems. Unsurprisingly, communities are fighting Big Oil to keep this noxious material out of their backyards.
NRDC’s Gina Ramirez is helping to bring attention to the wafts of manganese dust that plague her family and neighbors on Chicago’s Southeast Side.