Industrial Monitoring

Using Public Lab’s Grassroots Mapping method we work with community organizations to monitor hazardous industries.

Mapping Petcoke Waste Pile in Chicago, IL

Petcoke, a by-product of tar sands refining in Indiana, was being stored in South East Chicago along the Calumet River. Working with two community organizations in Chicago, The South East Environmental Task Force and the Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, we used grassroots mapping to image the petcoke waste piles.

The maps and images from these flights played a part in the community’s successful efforts to ban petcoke storage along the Calumet.

This work was made possible through funding from the JPB Environmental Health Fellowship Program through the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health .


Chris Walley
Holden Sparacino
Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke
The South East Environmental Task Force
Public Lab

Petcoke Background

Olga Bautista, founding member of the Chicago Southeast Side Coalition to Ban Petcoke, essay on Petcoke:

Chicago Magazine photoseries on Petcoke:

Public Lab’s work in Chicago:

Public Lab note on 1st Balloon Mapping workshop:

Notes on Public Lab regional Barnraising:

Reporting on the closure of Petcoke Piles:


Sparacino, H., Wylie, S. (2014). Estimating the Volume and Weight of Waste Piles. Public Lab Journal of Environmental Research: The Grassroots Mapping Forum.