Warehouse to store petcoke to be built on Southeast Side

CHICAGO (WLS) -- KCBX Terminals is moving forward with plans to build a large warehouse to store pet coke on Chicago's southeast side, but the company and the city are at odds over when the facility will be completed.

It will be located on land near the intersection of 107th and Burley Avenue.

For the past year, the fight over these piles of petcoke has involved a mix of health, dollars and politics. Neighbors say dust from the petcoke has fouled their homes and their air. KCBX, the storage company says air monitoring shows that to be untrue.

The city told the company that if they wanted to stay, they had to store the petcoke indoors. In response, KCBX announced Tuesday plans to build a giant storage facility, 1,000 feet long and 100 feet tall, big enough to store 125,000 tons of petcoke and coal, costing an estimated $120 million.

"Everything would be enclosed, including a conveyor system that would bring product into the facility itself," says KCBX's Jake Reint. "Over 5,500 linear feet on conveyors used to transport the product."

The city says the facility must be built by June 2016. KCBX says it will need 14 months beyond that, and is asking for a variance.

"We're hope that this will be granted and its necessary because we can't complete a project of this magnitude any faster," says Reint.

Neighborhood activists say had they not raised their voices, which attracted political clout, KCBX would never have agreed to build a monster storage house. In that sense, this is, for them, a partial victory. A full victory, they argue, would be for KCBX to close up shop.

"Some businesses just don't belong in residential areas," says Peggy Salazar of the Southeast Environmental Task Force. "Dirty businesses like coal and petcoke do not belong in communities. They just don't."

KCBX clearly does not want to leave; the company argues that it has been a good neighbor, spending $10 million on a system of water cannons to suppress dust, covered conveyors, and air monitors which have shown no violations in 250 days.
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