Mayor Emmanuel Urged to Keep Promise to Protect Southeast Side Residents from Koch Brothers and Their Toxic Pet Coke

CHICAGO, IL –(ENEWSPF)—April 6, 2015. The Chicago City Council has not met its own March 31stdeadline to limit the amount of Petroleum Coke entering the city and set daily storage limits on the Southeast Side pet coke facilities. This is a concern to the families in the community of Southeast Chicago and they are calling for the throughput limit to be zero.

“Every day I see black water used to suppress the dust. The water is carried in the wind and it mists over me when I’m walking my dogs,” Mari Barboza says about the dust suppression system KCBX installed to keep pet coke dust down.

“The pet coke has not ceased to appear in my window sills, in my dogs’ water bowls and I’m sure it’s also getting into my lungs and my family’s lungs too,” Barboza said. Barboza has been calling for a complete ban on pet coke and has been organizing with the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Pet Coke for nearly two years.

Barboza and other community leaders delivered a letter to Mayor Emmanuel today to put pressure on him to follow through with his promise to put the people of Chicago before polluters.

Families and community activist have been working together to kick the pet coke piles out of Chicago and away from residential areas. In February, KCBX announce it would stop storing pet coke and convert into a transfer point for the product.

“We don’t know if they’re going to be sitting there for a day or processed hour by hour, we just don’t know. It’s too open-ended,” said Peggy Salazar of the Southeast Environmental Task Force and 10th Ward resident about KCBX’s new plans. She pointed out that the site would continue to be a center of industry.

“The neighbors are still hoping it will be gone from the neighborhood,” said Tom Shepherd, also of the task force. “They want it out.”

The voters in the 10th ward signaled their desire for a ban of pet coke transport and storage from their neighborhood at the February 24th municipal election. With 86 percent of voters overwhelmingly passing a non-binding referendum to ban the product.

Olga Bautista a lifelong resident on the front lines of this battle –is calling on voters in the 10th Ward to stay strong and continue to demand that pet coke be banned altogether as other U.S. cities have done.  She blames 10th Ward Alderman John Pope, for rolling out the red carpet for KCBX while introducing “phony, toothless ordinances” and falsely minimizing the dangers of pet coke exposure.

“Rahm Emanuel and John Pope said they would ‘regulate pet coke out of Chicago.’ Obviously, that strategy has failed. We need our elected officials to protect the people, not the polluters,” Bautista says.

The coalition is committed to organizing and building political power in the southeast side of Chicago. Apart from removing the toxic pet coke piles, they want the city to strictly regulate dirty energy and move towards clean, renewable and sustainable energy.

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