Koch Industries has agreed to a tentative settlement in a class action litigation brought by residents of Chicago’s South Side over claims that the industrial company and a fuel company spewed petroleum coke dust into residential homes. The companies are accused of storing the oil refinery byproduct near neighborhoods without proper covering, allowing the dust to blow into homes and coat property.
The Plaintiffs have tentatively agreed to settle with KCBX Terminals Company and Koch Carbon, LLC, and separately with DTE Chicago Fuels Terminal, LLC. The settlement is pending approval in Illinois federal court. The lawsuit, filed by South Side residents in 2013, alleged that the refinery waste called petcoke and its dust covered their homes and property in a fine black film that caused them to incur expenses for cleaning and replacing damaged property.
This is not the first complaint against KCBX for environmental damages. The company already paid a $35,000 civil penalty as part of a settlement with the State of Illinois in September 2015 after the state alleged petcoke stored on its site was leaking into the river as a result of a poorly maintained barrier. In 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sent the company a notice of violation after dust samples from nearby homes indicated the levels were in violation of the Clean Air Act.
KCBX said it will no longer store petcoke at the facility in question, but will instead convert it to a transfer facility. The company says plans are underway to remove all petcoke piles from the site by June. The suit is in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
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