This story was originally published by Huffington Post and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
It’s not easy to take on a wealthy, multi-national corporation and win. Especially for residents of Chicago’s struggling Southeast Side.
But that’s exactly what’s happening on the banks of the Calumet River, where the steel plants that used to give residents of a mostly Hispanic neighborhood access to a middle-class lifestyle were replaced, nearly two years ago, with black dust called petroleum coke (“petcoke”) piled five or six stories tall.
The piles of petcoke — a byproduct of the oil refining process — belong to KCBX Terminals, owned by the conservative billionaire Koch brothers. The piles have been roiling area residents ever since the black dust of mostly carbon and sulfur began blowing into the backyards, playgrounds, and neighborhood parks. It blackens skies and leaves behind a sticky residue, raising concerns about aggravated asthma and other health issues.
A small but energetic coalition of residents have stepped up to fight the blight, holding protests and marches, educating their neighbors about the iss... Read more