Bryan Cohen Feb. 21, 2014, 3:57pm

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced new proposed legislation on Wednesday that would regulate facilities that handle petroleum coke, metallurgical coke and coal to attempt to reduce air pollution in the state.

House Bill 5939 was created in response to alleged air pollution violations linked to several bulk materials storage facilities on the southeast side of Chicago. The bill, crafted by Madigan's office and Rep. Barbara Flynn Currie, D-25th, would require facilities used for trans-loading of coal, metallurgical coke and petroleum coke to fully enclose the bulk materials of the facility if it is within 5,000 feet of communities, particularly near nursing homes, hospitals, schools and other vulnerable populations.

"The goal of this legislation is to protect the health and safety of residents living near storage facilities and to prevent companies from relocating and perpetuating this problem in other Illinois communities," Madigan said. "We are committed to working with communities, the industry and environmental advocates to find a workable solution that protects public health."

The bill would also add several additional protections on coal and coke storage.

Pet coke is the solid byproduct of petroleum refining and met coke is produced by subjecting bituminous coal to extremely high temperatures to produce fuel. Inhaling dust from these two materials can contribute to serious respiratory health problems, especially for individuals suffering from lung disease, heart disease and asthma.

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