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Company Says Pet Coke Piles Along Detroit River Will Be Gone By August

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This photo shows pet coke being dumped onto a growing pile of the material near the Detroit River in southwest Detroit in May, 2013. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

This photo shows pet coke being dumped onto a growing pile of the material near the Detroit River in southwest Detroit in May, 2013. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

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DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A company has stopped accepting shipments of petroleum coke at a site along the Detroit River.

Detroit Bulk Storage spokesman Daniel Cherrin said Tuesday that the practice began a few weeks ago and the piles should be depleted by the end of August.

“It was a business decision. The piles of pet coke have been getting small once the shipping lanes reopened, and we began loading it onto boats,” Cherrin told the Detroit News.

Pet coke is a byproduct of oil refining used in energy production. Pet coke can be burned with coal to produce a low-cost fuel, but the process is dirty and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations prevent it from being used much in the United States.

The black, rock-like substance is created by the nearby Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery, sold to Koch Carbon and stored by Detroit Bulk Storage — which has received criticism for keeping the pet coke piles at a site off Jefferson Avenue in southwest Detroit. Environmentalists and Detroit residents have complained about coke dust and the potential for water runoff into the Detroit River.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) in April issued a report stating that the piles themselves don’t pose an immediate threat to human health.

Then, in June, Michigan U.S. Rep. Gary Peters called for a further investigation into the pet coke after MDEQ acknowledged that dust from the mounds appears “to be an issue during the loading of material onto freighters.”

Brad Wurfel, MDEQ spokesperson, said concerns about pet coke “have been exaggerated,” adding that the substance “is being managed like any other aggregate material.”

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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