Category Archives: Petroleum Coke (Petcoke)

Two Petroleum Coke train cars derail in Benicia

Repost from The Benicia Herald
[Editor: Question: was the petcoke dust in these cars open to the wind when they derailed here in Benicia last Saturday?  What happens to the petcoke when one of these cars jostles up and then bangs down off the rails?  Anyone have a photo?  ANSWER TO THESE QUESTIONS FROM A LOCAL OBSERVER: “The cars that Valero uses to transport petcoke are ‘Hopper Cars’. They are closed top. They are not open gondala cars.  No, the product was not open to the wind.  They are completely covered and have a top fill with a door and 3 or 4 bottom discharge slide gates.”  – RS]

2 UP trains [sic] derail near Benicia refinery; no injuries or spills

May 19, 2014, The Benicia Herald

Two Union Pacific train cars came off the rails about 5:25 p.m. Saturday, Mark Davis, UP director of corporate relations and media, said Monday.

The train serves Valero Benicia Refinery, Davis said. The derailment happened near there.

“There was no petroleum coke spill,” said Sue Fisher Jones, the refinery’s public affairs manager.

Davis concurred. “There were no injuries or spills,” he said.

“Both hopper cars were loaded with coke and derailed upright with all wheels off the rail,” he said, describing the incident.

“The cars were placed back on the track Sunday morning, and the cause of the derailment is under investigation,” Davis said.

NRDC sues Koch brothers over handling of petcoke; Chicago adopts new regulations

Repost from The Huffington Post

Koch Brothers Face Lawsuit Over Chicago’s Toxic Black Dust

The Huffington Post  | by  Joseph Erbentraut  |  05/02/2014

Environmentalists are planning to take billionaires Charles and David Koch to court, alleging the brothers’ companies are responsible for polluting Chicago’s Southeast Side with the black, thick dust known as petroleum coke — or petcoke, a byproduct of the oil refining process.

ThinkProgress reported this week that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Southeast Environmental Task Force (SETF) have given a 90-day notice of an intention to sue Koch-owned companies including KCBX Terminals over the pollution associated with their petcoke storage facilities located along the Calumet River in a low-income, partially industrial Chicago community.

In a press release, the groups said the lawsuit stems from neighbors complaining that the dust spewing from the facilities’ large, uncovered petcoke piles has polluted the river, “invaded” their homes and blackened area skies.

“People are complaining about finding dust from these sites inside their homes,” Peggy Salazar, SETF executive director, said in a statement. “Black dust is coating their houses and probably their lungs. This has to stop. And hopefully this suit will achieve that.”

(Read NRDC’s full notice letter.)

On Wednesday, the Chicago City Council approved regulations that ban new petcoke storage facilities from opening up in the city, but do not require the shutdown of the three sites currently in operation.

The Chicago Tribune reports the storage sites will be newly required to report how much petcoke and coal they ship through the city on a quarterly basis. They will also need to enclose their piles within two years and cannot expand their operations.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office described the ordinance as the toughest petcoke regulations in the nation, but environmental groups pushing for an outright ban disagree.

It is the city’s ultimate obligation to protect its residents,” Salazar said Wednesday, according to the Northwest Indiana Times. “We don’t believe they did that here.”

Most of the petcoke in Chicago is shipped in from the nearby BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana, which is tripling their output of the dangerous dust after expanding their facility. Petcoke can cause health problems like coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath, in addition to aggravating existing respiratory conditions like asthma, according to the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Facing similar concerns voiced by residents living near petcoke facilities there, Detroit moved to ban petcoke last year.