Petroleum Coke


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What You Need to Know
Petroleum Coke: Essential to Manufacturing


About 80 percent of worldwide petroleum coke, or petcoke, production is “fuel-grade” and used for electricity generation and in cement kilns.

Petcoke is used by brick and glass manufacturers because it has a significantly lower ash content compared to other fuels. 

Petcoke is used in the production of titanium dioxide, a mineral that is used as a substitute for lead in paint. It is also a pigment in sunscreen, plastic and food coloring.


Understand the Issue

EPA defines petcoke as having a “low health hazard potential” with no observed carcinogenic, reproductive or developmental effects. Petroleum coke is chemically inert, does not react chemically in water, does not dissolve in water, is not bioavailable by organisms (organisms cannot absorb it) and does not bio accumulate (does not concentrate harmful substances) in organisms.

Petcoke storage and handling facilities are governed by a wide range of environmental and safety regulations. These include:

  • Petcoke storage and handling facilities are or can be required to obtain approval of Fugitive Dust Control Plans. These plans are mandated either through the Clean Air Act or state law.
    • State agencies issue permits to storage facilities with conditions that ensure fugitive dust does not become a nuisance.
  • Petcoke storage facilities are subject to the Clean Water Act and are often required to obtain industrial storm water permits and submit a Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan. These plans also address:
    • Employee training
    • Preventative maintenance
    • Risk identification
    • Spill prevention and response procedures
    • Recordkeeping and internal reporting
  • The International Fire Code, adopted by most states, requires facilities producing combustible dust to obtain permits for their operations. Facilities must obtain combustible dust or building permits, which must adhere to National Fire Protection Association standards.