Three Illinois congressmen, including 9th district Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, have signed a letter asking for a federal investigation into the handling and potential health effects of petroleum coke. The 9th district includes parts of Arlington Heights, Mount Prospect, Prospect Heights and Northbrook.
U.S. Reps. Mike Quigley, Schakowsky, Robin Kelly and eight other congressmen sent the letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday.
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Petcoke is a grainy black byproduct of the petroleum industry that has been piling up along shipping channels in the Midwest, including Chicago's southeast side.
Residents have complained about soot from the piles blowing into their neighborhoods and say they fear it could cause health and environmental problems.
Chicago and Illinois officials have proposed regulations that would require companies that handle petcoke to cover or enclose the huge piles.
Petcoke is a powdery fuel made by "cooking" residue left after making gasoline and diesel fuel.