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The Petcoke Fields of Chicago

Chicago, IL
The Petcoke Fields of Chicago

The City of Chicago is allowing the Koch Brothers to dump their petcoke dust right next to the river. This affects both the water quality and the living quality of the people in the surrounding area. The problem stems from the fact that petcoke is labeled as a non-toxic substance; which is true if its in solid form. What isn't said explicitly is that petcoke dust is toxic and harmful to people, and the form found by the river iis dust. The dust affects the lungs as smoking cigarettes does; it also carries toxic properties of a chemical far worse than those of nicotine. The petcoke dust induces hysteric coughing, and many of those who live near the fields develop asthma.

The obvious solution would be to force the Koch Brothers out of the fields. Re classifying petcoke and its dust as a toxic substance would allow for regulatory changes which would mandate at the very least that the Koch brothers are responsible for their actions. However, by removing the fields altogether new land along the river is made available for development. This could bring a plethora of business that doesn’t negatively affect the health of the surrounding residents.

The Koch Brothers would need to be involved because of their ownership of the fields. While it’s certain that they wouldn’t want to give up their site, it would be possible to explain to them the situation and explain how the legislation would be passed to reclassify petcoke dust. The agency that classifies chemicals would also need to be involved to legally classify petcoke dust as a toxic substance.

In order to transform this idea into action it would be necessary to contact all those I listed. The agency that classifies chemicals would be by far the most difficult task. Since they haven’t reclassified the chemical as of now, it's safe to assume that it wouldn't be easy. It would have to be a result of pressure on the agency to reclassify, in order to outweigh the pressure that the companies impose.

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