Piles of petroleum coke on Detroit River draw concern

'Pet-coke' along Detroit riverfront has residents, lawmakers worried about both environmental, human health risk

DETROIT - Near the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Rosa Parks Boulevard, mounds of petroleum coke line the banks of the Detroit River.

Concern and complaints over the coal-like substance produced by the Marathon Petroleum Corporation have been piling up. Some see it as an eye-sore while there are those, including some lawmakers, who wonder if it's a health-hazard.

"There's still some unanswered questions that have to be answered," said Rep. Gary Peters, D-Michigan.

On Thursday, a massive cargo vessel docked and began loading heaps of the fine black powder which can be used to make asphalt. Sources say when the work is done here the ship will set sail to Nova Scotia, Canada.

However, before the area was completely clear, Detroit Rep. Rashida Talieb got her hands dirty. She filled up three large bags of the pet-coke for testing.

The biggest worry is exposure, whether it be airborne or in the water.

Peters had this to say recently about the importance of addressing the issue:

"There is a catch basin to catch runoff but they don't know where the discharge is, so we need to know where that runoff is going into the river and what sort of action needs to be taken."

Pet-coke isn't listed as a toxic substance but some environmentalists say it had no business on the Detroit riverfront. The results of the tests will be telling.

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