BP and The Koch Brothers Are Poisoning Chicago

The Koch brothers are coke dealerspetroleum coke, to be more precise– a refining byproduct of tar sands oil, and they sell over 11 million tons of the stuff annually, mostly to China, India, and Latin America where they do not have an EPA under the leadership of President Obama refusing to grant permits to burn it as a fuel. Thanks, Obama.

But their product is piling up along the Calumet river on Chicago’s Southeast side, and the metallic dust, high-sulfur/high-carbon waste, which has been known to cause asthma and other respiratory illnesses, is just sitting there, pretty much blowing into the wind and water– passing on the hidden costs to America’s healthcare system.

MET-AJ-5-COKE-1018

A worker with Beemsterboer company sprinkles water on a pile of petroleum coke piling up along the Calumet River in Chicago — Zbigniew Bzdak, Via Chicago Tribune, Sept. 9, 2013

Locals have complained about the soot for years, but with BP planning on tripling the amount of petroleum coke it produces at its Whiting, Indiana refinery– on Lake Michigan, no less– it’s up to Koch Industries to store it, while continuing to fund the anti-science behind climate change and thwarting environmental regulations.

I’m sure the guy with the hose can totally contain these heaping mounds of open-air poison.

The free market says so.

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  • JWheels

    That picture looks like what we used to call a “Superfund site.”

  • muselet

    BP contracts with KCBX Terminals for storage of pet coke. A BP spokesman says KCBX Terminals is responsible for complying with the law and regulations when it comes to storing pet coke. A KCBX Terminals spokesman says it’s making upgrades, including to its dust suppression capabilities, to its storage facility.

    KCBX Terminals Company is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, but according to Businessweek, “KCBX Terminals Company does not have any Key Executives recorded.” Which is curious because that means there’s no convenient fall guy if things go south. And because the company is privately-owned, the amount of information required to be released is minimal.

    Without knowing, I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest every penny KCBX Terminals makes is immediately transferred to Koch Industries. If something goes terribly wrong at the pet coke storage facility, BP will point a finger at KCBX Terminals and say that company was contractually obligated to take full responsibility for safety and environmental conditions, whereupon KCBX Terminals will simply go out of business. Therefore, the cleanup costs would fall to the EPA, also known as us, the taxpayers.

    Privatize the profits, socialize the costs.

    –alopecia

    • Richard_thunderbay

      I think that this is one of the evils of corporate “personhood”. At best, a corporation may get fined or be forced to pay out in civil suits, but the scum behind the vile decisions that create situations like this never get punished directly. Of course, any financially penalty is simply passed along to the corporation’s customers and shareholders. No CEO will ever get fired or even see his compensation go down.

      • feloniousgrammar

        Republicans want to pay less for labor, be taxed less or not at all, privatize profit and socialize costs, businesses to be unregulated,be absolutely immune to law suits and liability, and to be subsidised by taxpayers at the same time. Food stamps are small potatoes, but they want every crumb they can snatch from the table of labor.

  • D_C_Wilson

    If this is what the Kochs get away with under the oppressive, job-killing boot of the EPA, imagine what they would do if they got their wish and abolished it.

  • Richard_thunderbay

    Why is having what is essentially a toxic waste dump in the limits of any city (Detroit is also being subjected to this shit) even legal?

    • feloniousgrammar

      Because the people it most directly harms can’t afford the army of lawyers it would take to fight it.

  • Badgerite

    Wow! It’s not as if the air around Chicago needed more crap flying around in it. In Gary, Indiana, nearby, all this crap, you could cut the air with a knife, it is so think with particulate matter.
    Of course, as a recent guest on NPR’s Fresh Air pointed out, even if the United States does not allow the Keystone Pipeline to take be built, there is so much money involved for Canada that they will, in all likelihood, find another way to market. There is a world market for this. Whether the US is involved or not. Canada would have to be convinced not to develop the tar sands and I think that ship has already sailed. It isn’t even up to the US. It is up to Canada. Stopping US participation does not mean you stop the development and use of the tar sands oil. Something environmentalist should be aware of. It is up to Canada. Not the US.