Thursday, January 30, 2014

Volunteer Enjoys Sunday Matinee

Sunday, January 26, 2014

I’m a fairly new volunteer for the Southeast Environmental Task Force and I helped out with the first of their 2014 matinees. Quite honestly, I didn’t expect so many people to come due to the poor weather but we had a nice crowd, enjoyed refreshments, and had a lively discussion afterward.

The documentary shown was “The Price of Sand.” I came away with learning about what it means to have a mining firm move into your community and its effects.  Effects such as how these companies acquire land, the process called fracking, and the devastating results to the land, and the daily life of the people because of noise, pollution, and their health and so on.

It seems to me that the mining firms use the fact that communities don’t have the laws or regulations in place already so the mines buy land quietly before any regulations exist.

I would encourage communities everywhere to go to their lawmakers to find out if they have acceptable laws or regulations in place for industries such as mining, the stockpiling of bulk materials like petcoke. and if they don’t, draft them as soon as possible.

These industries may be coming to your neighborhood!

Thanks to all the braved the weather and know that your support is very much appreciated!

Rita Campbell

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Sunday Matinee - The Price of Sand

Plan to join us for our seasonal showing of documentaries.  This month we're screening The Price of Sand.  This movie tells the story of silica sand mining in Wisconsin and Minnesota.  While there have been mines in operations for decades, there has been a sudden boom in the need for silica sand because of it's use in fracking.  This film examines the impact of this mining boom on the landscape, the communities and the people. 

The movie will be followed by a short discussion with an activist involved in  the fracking issue.



City Regs Not Strict Enough

Reading a document that refers you back to this section and that section is never easy.  Some things that were clearly questionable about the proposed regulations were:

  • the allowance for smaller operations to openly store dust generating materials out in the open
  • the two year grace period for the construction of an enclosure
  • the set backs given without explanation as to how they were determined or why they are sufficient
  • variances to the regulations granted at the discretion of the Commissioner of Health
  • penalties not clearly stated or defined
We are still in the process of evaluating the regulations and have enlisted the help of other environmental organization.  But how can we trust the city to protect us when they present us with weak regulations.  The residents of  Southeast side have made it pretty clear that they want the nasty piles removed.

If you would like to sign our petition to have the piles removed, you can do so here:
 http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-the-petcoke-contaminate

Go here for instructions on  how to comment and for a link to the regulations:
http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/cdph/provdrs/environmental_permitsregulation/alerts/2013/dec/notice-of-proposed-regulations---for-the-handling-and-storage-of.html

Community Comments on Proposed City Petcoke Regulations

The city of Chicago's Health Department conducted a meeting to hear comments about the newly proposed Bulk Storage regulations.  Residents  turned out with signs and made it be known that the proposed regs were not strict enough.  They complained that the comment period was too short and that residents need more time to understand and evaluate the proposed rules.  See the story here.

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/live-news/2014/1/illinois-seeks-toregulatepetcokepiles.html

Friday, November 15, 2013

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Latest Pet Coke Media Coverage

ALJAZEERA was able to capture and show how residents are impacted by the dust from the coal and pet coke piles that line the Calumet River.  See story here:

http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/live-news/2013/10/carcinogenic-oilbyproductcoatschicagohomes.html

And here's an excellent commentary by Harry Henderson of NRDC:

http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/hhenderson/petcoke_calumet.html

Friday, October 18, 2013

Just When We Thought It Might Change

With the closing of the local coal fired power plants, we had hoped that the mountains of coal that have lined the Calumet river would go away or at least diminish in size.  For decades, residents living near the storage facilities have complained about dust on their property and expressed concerns about the air that they breathed.  Contrarily, it appears the coal will be replaced with pet coke and the amount is sure to be increased due to BP's refinery expansion in Whiting Indiana.  Our hopes of a cleaner, healthier Southeast side were dashed.

In the past, we expressed our concerns about this situation to visiting EPA and IEPA officials, but nothing much came of them.   This time SETF contacted our local officials and took them on a tour of the area pointing out the amount of coal and pet coke and the impacts it had on the community. Vice President Tom Shepherd  had worked closely with members of the Clean Power Coalition and was able to engage some of the organizations in this matter with us.

As then came the infamous photo of pet coke dust blowing in thick black clouds carried away into the neighborhood on the winds of a storm.

As a result of support from organizations like the Natural Resource Defense Council, the Illinois Environmental Council, Environmental Law and Policy Center and other groups, we were able to produce a video that lead to all kinds of media coverage.  The issue was timely as earlier this year, residents in Detroit complained about pet coke dust blowing over them from piles along the Detroit river.  It turns out what we thought was a local issue is actually much bigger.

Go her to read about our latest efforts and the communities concerns about the pet coke.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/ct-met-petcoke-20131018,0,3084871,full.story

and watch this here

http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2013/10/17/petroleum-coke

read this great article here:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/10/18/1248541/-The-Kochs-Dirty-Secret-is-Out-in-Chicago#

and this is the photo of dust blanking the neighborhood taken by Anthony Martinez of Rising in Social Equality that ignited the fire so to speak: