The state is taking action to deal with petroleum coke, a byproduct of oil refining. Petcoke has industrial uses, but it can be an environmental nuisance or health hazard if the dust gets away from the pile and into the environment. This has happened in Chicago, where petcoke from an Indiana refinery is being piled in an industrial area near a rail line. The dust from the exposed piles has coated cars and homes in the vicinity, and is believed to be a health hazard.
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Illinois EPA director Lisa Bonnett is filing emergency rules because the number of petcoke sites may be growing. “Part of the reason to take emergency action today is that we have permit transaction before us. The governor (has) asked us to take a time-out on permits as we look at the impact of petcoke, and so these emergency rules are really vital in allowing us to do that so we don’t just have this stuff moving down the river to only be in other communities,” she said.
The applications for petcoke sites are in Ottawa and in Will County. The petcoke that is produced at Illinois refineries in Joliet, Lemont, Robinson and Roxana also would be affected by the rules. The rules will require piles to be covered and ban runoff from entering waterways, along with other provisions. Once the rules are filed this week, there will be a two-week comment period, so the rules could be in effect by the end of the month.
Serving the areas of Alton, Godfrey, East Alton, Wood River, Roxana, Edwardsville, Jerseyville, Brighton, Bethalto, Grafton, Granite City, Hartford, Highland, Troy, Fairview Heights, Belleville and the surrounding cities.