Chicago asks residents to report petcoke problems

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has launched a new offensive against petroleum coke that’s been piling up on the city’s far southeast side.

He’s asking residents to call 311 or send an e-mail if they see evidence that petroleum coke — called “petcoke” — is blowing off the piles. Petcoke is a powdery black byproduct of oil refining that can be burned in power plants.

Residents complain that petcoke is coating their homes and worry that breathing it could hurt their health.

Petcoke has been piling up in record amounts here as refineries expand to process Canadian crude oil. The oil has been stuck in the Midwest because of limited pipeline capacity to other regions.

The Chicago Health Department is working on petcoke regulations. Some aldermen want to ban it outright.

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