SPRINGFIELD—Illinois Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Bonnett today filed emergency rules with the Illinois Pollution Control Board to ensure stringent regulation of petcoke piles throughout Illinois. The rules are part of Governor Pat Quinn’s directive earlier this week to address the growing problem of petcoke storage in Illinois and protect Illinois residents and the environment.
Petcoke is a byproduct of refining whose production has increased as a result of greater refining of Canadian crude oil in Indiana, resulting in more being stored particularly at facilities in Southeast Chicago. It has prompted growing concern among nearby residents about blowing petcoke dust.
“No matter who you are or where you live, everyone has a right to a healthy environment,” Governor Quinn said. “Today’s action will ensure that no one in Illinois has to worry about petroleum coke.”
“Emergency action is necessary to address these piles of petroleum coke and ensure the protection of Illinois’ residents, air, land and water,” added Illinois EPA Director Lisa Bonnett. She also said IEPA will make no decisions to approve pending permit applications from petcoke storage facilities “until we are assured there will be no adverse environmental impact.”
“Through the lawsuits that we have filed against these companies and through legislation that we have drafted, we are working to ensure that they cannot continue to pollute the air and water in Chicago or in any other community in Illinois,” said Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
Through the emergency rules, the Illinois EPA is seeking actions from facilities storing coke and coal that include the installation of equipment such as wind monitors, dust suppression systems, plans to address storage issues, and ultimately the total enclosure of all coke and coal piles. The Agency estimates 36 facilities will potentially be affected by the emergency rules.
The rules take effect after Illinois Pollution Control Board (IPCB) files them with the Illinois Secretary of State. This action could come as soon as the IPCB’s next meeting on Jan. 23. The major provisions include:
• Within five days, a facility must install equipment to monitor wind speed.
• Within 30 days, a facility must install dust suppression systems along conveyor systems and any piles that are not totally enclosed.
• Within 45 days, a facility must submit applications for necessary permits and implement comprehensive wastewater and stormwater runoff controls that ensure that runoff that has come into contact with the piles is prevented from entering the waters of the state.
• Within 45 days, a facility must submit a plan to the IEPA for total enclosure of all coke and coal piles, transfer points, loading and unloading areas, screening areas, crushing and sizing areas to be completed as quickly as possible but no later than two years after these rules are adopted. Enclosure structures must be equipped with air pollution systems at all vents and entrances and exits for material and vehicles as well as an impermeable base to guard against ground seepage.
• Within 45 days, a facility must submit a plan to the IEPA to minimize the impact of truck traffic on residential areas near the source. All petcoke loading and transport must be done in vehicles sufficiently covered to guard against fugitive dust emissions.
• Within 45 days, a facility must submit a plan to the IEPA for coke and coal fugitive dust that must adhere to requirements in the Illinois Environmental Protection Act and must be updated at least semi-annually or within 30 days of a major equipment or control change.
• Within 60 days, a facility must remove all petcoke and coal that has been at the source for more than one year.
• Within 60 days, a facility must locate any piles, loading operations, transfer or emission points that are not totally enclosed to at least 200 feet inside the property line of the source, a minimum of 200 feet from all waters of the United States, all public water supply reservoirs and intakes and all potable wells and onto impenetrable bases or pads.
• Within 60 days, no pile may exceed 30 feet in height.
• Each calendar week, a facility must measure moisture content of representative samples and adjust dust suppression measures so as to meet certain standards and inspect all dust suppression equipment so as to ensure adequate operations.
• At least monthly, a facility must certify the operation of all dust suppression systems at all times during the processing of coal and coke and submit records to IEPA showing the types and quantities of materials delivered to and transported from the source, and data reflecting cleaning, street-sweeping and equipment maintenance frequency.
Prior to today’s filing, the Illinois EPA referred two petcoke facilities to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s Office alleging numerous environmental violations. The Attorney General, in cooperation with the city of Chicago, subsequently filed lawsuits against the two companies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is also activity working in concert with state and local agencies to address issues raised by concerned community members.
The Illinois EPA is given authority to file emergency rules with the Illinois Pollution Control Board under the Illinois Environmental Protection Act. The Illinois Pollution Control Board shall receive the rules and decide whether to file them with the Illinois Secretary of State. The Board’s next regularly scheduled meeting is January 23, 2014. If the Board decides to file the rules, they take effect on an emergency basis upon acceptance by the Secretary of State. Emergency rules are valid for 150 days.
Under Governor Quinn’s direction, the Illinois EPA will proceed with a permanent solution to address problems related to coke and coal storage. The Agency will begin work on draft legislation to be introduced during the 2014 spring legislative session.