MDEQ says tests find pet coke piles are resulting in contaminated homes

The MDEQ says after talks with Detroit Bulk Storage, the company has stopped taking in shipments of petroleum coke. 

7 Action News told you about the giant piles near the Ambassador Bridge of the oil by-product earlier this year.  It is created by Marathon Oil, then sold to Koch Carbon, and stored by Detroit Bulk Storage.

Residents, politicians and environmentalists voiced concerns as they watched the piles grow stories high on the Detroit Riverfront without any permits.

They asked if run-off was contaminating the river. They feared the pet coke dust was getting in their homes and lungs.

The company storing the pet coke said it sprayed the piles to prevent dust, and had asphalt installed to control runoff. 

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality investigated, and found that laws appeared to have been violated.  It says a permit should have been obtained from the city before any pet coke was stored, and that a runoff and dust control plan needed to be filed.

The MDEQ then did tests homes and found pet coke dust in numerous homes.

"I have to mop my floors 4-5 times a week," said Johathon McClinton. 

The disabled veteran says he recently had lung surgery and fears the dust he repeatedly cleans up is something he is repeatedly breathing in. The MDEQ confirmed pet coke is getting in his apartment home.

"It's poisoning us," said McClinton.

The MDEQ says in general pet coke is non-toxic, but in a dust form it can cause problems.  It is not safe to breathe in pet coke particulates.

A Detroit Bulk Storage spokesperson tells 7 Acton News it will work on getting a permit to store the pet coke.  If a permit is obtained it may continue storing the piles.

A public hearing is scheduled for July 31 at 10 a.m. at Detroit City Hall to address the permit request.

The company paying Detroit Bulk Storage to store the pet coke is Koch Carbon.  It is part of Koch Industries, one of the wealthiest private companies in the nation. 

"It can afford to dispose of the piles in the right way," said Alexis Zimberg, who lives near the piles.

Koch Carbon sent 7 Action News this statement:

"Koch Carbon owns the petroleum coke currently being stored and shipped from a facility operated by Detroit Bulk Storage. Detroit Bulk Storage is required to store and handle the material in a safe and compliant manner, in accordance with all applicable city, state and federal requirements."

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