Concern is growing about potential pollution as black mounds of refinery byproducts rise in two locations along the banks of the Detroit River.
The Detroit Free Press reports the mounds located in southwest Detroit are petroleum coke or pet coke and are a byproduct of oil refining used in energy production. Residents are concerned about the potential impact the materials that have been trucked to the river banks from the nearby Marathon Petroleum Co. refinery will have on the environment.
Democratic U.S. Reps. Gary Peters and John Conyers along with the Canadian government are also among those also expressing concerns.
On Tuesday, the lawmakers sent a joint letter to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality urging the agency to consider the material's potential impact on the river and nearby residents. "We fear the storage of petroleum coke along the river poses a potential threat to water and air quality. The material may contain trace amounts of metal and could have damaging health impacts if fugitive dust enters the air. Petroleum coke that enters the water may continue to frustrate efforts to prevent contamination from runoff," according to the letter.
Marathon Petroleum says the pet coke is no longer owned by the Findlay, Ohio-based company so it would not comment on its storage. But the company says if stored properly pet coke poses no environmental concerns.