Petcoke is often stored in large mounds out in the open air, causing dust-like residue from the substance to contaminate the environment. The petcoke residue causes health issues like coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Experts also warn that the substance can exacerbate existing health conditions such as asthma.
Controversy has been brewing around petcoke in Chicago, where oil giant BP recently increased its importation of the substance from a nearby refinery in Whiting, Indiana. The refinery also happens to be the same one responsible for the Lake Michigan oil spill in late March, meaning tension surrounding the company in those regions is already running high.
Meanwhile, the City of Chicago and its mayor, Rahm Emanuel, have come under fire for modifying a proposed ordinance that would ban new petcoke facilities from opening in the city, as well as limit the expansion of existing facilities. Emanuel’s administration decided to include an apparent loophole in the ordinance that will allow facilities to house petcoke so long as it is burned for fuel onsite.