The New York Times reports, “Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River. Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom.”
The newspaper highlights that Koch Carbon owns the petroleum coke. “The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel. The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November. …Marathon Petroleum’s plant in Detroit processes 28,000 barrels a day of the oil sands bitumen.”
“Residents on both sides of the Detroit River are concerned that the coke mountain is both an environmental threat and an eyesore. …(NDP MP Brian Masse) wants the International Joint Commission, the bilateral agency that governs the Great Lakes, to investigate the pile. Michigan’s state environmental regulatory agency has submitted a formal request to Detroit Bulk Storage, the company holding the material for Koch Carbon, to change its storage methods. Michigan politicians and environmental groups have also joined cause with Windsor residents.”
“An initial refining process known as coking, which releases the oil from the tarlike bitumen in the oil sands, also leaves the petroleum coke, of which Canada has 79.8 million tons stockpiled. Some is dumped in open-pit oil sands mines and tailing ponds in Alberta. Much is just piled up there. …Much of the new coking investment has gone into refineries in the Midwest to allow them to take advantage of the oil sands. BP, the British energy company, is building what it describes as the second-largest coke refinery in Whiting, Indiana (on Lake Michigan). When completed, the unit will be able to process about 102,000 barrels of bitumen or other heavy oils a day.” While the Environmental Protection Agency will not allow the burning of petroleum coke in the US, there is a strong demand for it in India, Mexico and China due to weaker environmental protections.
For more, please read:
A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit
NEWS: Tar sands by-product dump on Detroit River lacks required permits
NEWS: Windsor chapter to protest tar sands on the Detroit River