Attorney General Madigan Files New Lawsuit Against KCBX for Pet Coke Pollution Violations
Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed an additional lawsuit against KCBX Terminals Company for alleged water pollution and open dumping violations at its north terminal located at 3259 E. 100th St. Madigan’s suit, her second filed against the company in recent months, alleges KCBX violated state law by insufficiently storing piles of petroleum coke (pet coke) and coal that allowed for storm water runoff to contaminate the Calumet River, which is adjacent to the 100th Street storage site.
“In the course of our efforts to address pollution violations associated with the refinery materials storage sites on Chicago’s southeast side, we have uncovered additional violations of state environmental protection laws that must be addressed,” Madigan said. “My office is continuing to work on several fronts, both in the courtroom and in the legislature, to force these companies to clean up their act in the interest of the surrounding community’s health and safety.”
Today’s action follows Madigan’s first lawsuit against KCBX in November 2013 alleging air pollution violations at its other facility located on South Burley Avenue, where nearby residents reported that mounting piles of pet coke and coal were sending clouds of black dust into the nearby residential neighborhood. Inhaling pet coke can contribute to respiratory health problems, particularly for individuals who suffer from heart and lung disease, and asthma.
“No matter who you are or where you live, everyone has a right to a healthy environment,” Governor Pat Quinn said. “The partnership between my administration and Attorney General Madigan is helping us put a lid on harmful petroleum coke throughout Illinois. By working together, we are better able to protect the land, air and water of all communities throughout Illinois.”
Madigan’s latest lawsuit, which was filed in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges that KCBX insufficiently maintained a narrow concrete walkway as a barrier to separate mounds of pet coke and coal from the Calumet River. The lawsuit notes that the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) inspected the facility in November 2013, when inspectors discovered the concrete walkway contained substantial cracks and fissures and was not tall enough to prevent storm water runoff into the river. Instead, according to Madigan’s lawsuit, the company used sandbags to raise the height of the barrier, but, as the IEPA inspection noted; several sections of the makeshift barrier had been removed, allowing for contaminated runoff into the river.
“On behalf of the residents of Chicago, I thank the Attorney General for her continued diligence in making sure these companies are following regulations and not operating in a way that allows pet coke to spill into our waterways and spread into neighboring communities,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Just as we fought to shutter the two remaining coal power plants in the city of Chicago, we will continue our efforts to force these petroleum coke facilities to either clean up or shut down.”
The case management hearing has been scheduled for July 2, 2014, before Judge Rodolfo Garcia.
In response to growing concerns from nearby residents on Chicago’s southeast side, Attorney General Madigan has worked on several fronts to address pollution violations and seek stronger regulations over bulk materials storage sites that handle pet coke, coal and other refinery production materials.
In addition to Madigan’s first lawsuit against KCBX in November 2013, the Attorney General was joined by the City of Chicago in filing suit in December 2013 against Beemsterboer Slag Corp., seeking the removal of pet coke and coal piles at its 22-acre facility along the Calumet River at 2900 E. 106th St. All suits are pending in Cook County Circuit Court.
Additionally, Attorney General Madigan announced statewide legislation last month to strengthen regulations of facilities that handle pet coke and other refinery production materials. House Bill 5939, authored by Madigan’s office and sponsored by Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, would require storage facilities to fully enclose the bulk materials being stored within 5,000 feet of homes, schools and hospitals.