Southeast Side residents protesting piles of pet coke along the Calumet River. (Credit: John Waelti)

Southeast Side residents protesting piles of pet coke along the Calumet River. (Credit: John Waelti)

CHICAGO (CBS) — Protesters gathered on the southeast side today. Their target? Piles of refinery ash sitting along the Calumet River.

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More than two dozen Southeast Side residents marched to the gates of a Koch Brothers plant, protesting massive piles of a refinery byproduct known as pet coke.

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“It is polluting our air, it is polluting our ground and polluting our water,” said Frank Corona.

Corona was born and raised near the Calumet River and says the piles of pet coke stored there at KCBX Terminals are now leading to health problems.

“Asthma is increasing. Prostate cancer and other illnesses are prevalent here,” said Corona.

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KCBX Terminals released a statement saying the company has invested more than $10 million in upgrades including dust suppression capabilities. The company added that it wants to be a good neighbor in Illinois but so far these residents believe they are being left in the dust.