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Detroit Mayor Sets Deadline For Pet Coke Removal

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Petroleum coke. (credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ)

Petroleum coke. (credit: Bill Szumanski/WWJ)

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - Say goodbye to those big black mounds.

Mayor Dave Bing has issued a deadline for the removal of all petroleum coke from the Detroit riverfront on the city’s southwest side.

Bing’s office says Detroit Bulk Storage was notified Tuesday to move the material by Aug. 27.

The city says the company failed to cart away all the petroleum coke by an Aug. 9 deadline listed last week in an order from Detroit’s Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department.

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 Ave.

Environmentalists and Detroit residents have complained about coke dust and the potential for water runoff into the Detroit River.

Freighters have been taking the piles to Ohio.

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 after MDEQ acknowledged that dust from the mounds appeared “to be an issue during the loading of material onto freighters.”

The company has been cited for being in violation of city code and ordered to place a tarp on the material remaining at the site.

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

 

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