Detroit — July 15, 2013 at 12:32 pm

Detroiters now face breathing Koch Brothers’ toxic petroleum coke dust


Nothing to see here, please hold your breath and move along

As if they weren’t already dealing with enough in their daily lives, residents of downtown Detroit now have something else to contend with: exposure to toxic petroleum coke or “pet coke” dust. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that the state confirms that the dust is prevalent in the areas near the mountains of pet coke waste on the banks of the Detroit River.

Serene Arena could tell this wasn’t everyday dust.

Since last spring in her Detroit apartment, as she opened the windows from time to time, Arena was encountering something different.

“It’s a dusty place, but it had never been that thick or dark,” she said.

She figured the likeliest source is sitting less than 1,000 feet from her window at the 14th Street Lofts off West Lafayette Boulevard: a large, controversial pile of petroleum coke placed along the Detroit River earlier this year.

Late last month, Arena wiped a new coating of dust up with a new sponge and provided it to the Free Press, which gave the sample to the Ann Arbor-based Ecology Center, an environmental nonprofit that previously tested a sample of pet coke from the Detroit River pile provided by state Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit.

Testing confirmed Arena’s suspicion: The dust contains pet coke.

“If it’s on my countertops, it’s going into my lungs,” she said. “It’s going into the Detroit River and affecting the ecology there. Who knows where else it’s going?”

The Department of Environmental Quality sees no problem and describes the pet coke dust as not posing ” a significant public health risk for inhalation exposure”. Others aren’t so sure. The dust contains Vanadium, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Breathing high levels of vanadium pentoxide may cause lung damage… Exposure to high levels of vanadium pentoxide in air can result in lung damage. Ingesting vanadium can cause nausea and vomiting. In animals, ingesting vanadium can cause decreased red blood cells and increased blood pressure.

The ownership of the piles is a convoluted mess. From the Detroit Free Press article:

The pet coke is owned by Koch Carbon and is piled on property owned by the family of billionaire Manuel (Matty) Moroun. It is leased to Norfolk Southern railroad, though Detroit Bulk Storage Inc. is handling the shipment and storage of the pile through some arrangement with the railroad.

A pile at a separate facility has been removed and “the company will focus on its core business: handling aluminum and steel-related products.”

It’s come to this. As Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr tries to solve Detroit’s seemingly intractable financial problems, Big Oil interests like the Koch Brothers are using Detroit as a dumping ground for toxic pet coke. Thankfully, Congressman and Senatorial candidate Gary Peters and House Democrat Rashida Tlaib are trying to bring more attention to the situation. Both have introduced legislation to try to protect Detroit citizens.

Wouldn’t be nice if Governor Snyder cared as much for the people of Detroit as the two Democrats do?

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  • truthteller13

    “Wouldn’t be nice if Governor Snyder cared as much for the people of Detroit as the two Democrats do?”
    If dhimmicrats cared about Detroit they wouldn’t have turned it into a third world hell hole like Juarez.

  • imbustinloose

    This message is for the Koch Brothers – pull your business and move on. Ford and Chrysler, you should pull up stakes and move to a right to work state. Ford would like to build a robotics plant like they have in Argentina but the UAW won’t let them.
    There are many other states that would welcome your business without burdening
    you with union extortion!! Let this Marxist cesspool called Detroit sink in its
    own filth due to their failed socialist policies! And when the welfare
    recipients scream “this is discrimination and the system is rigged against
    us” Alvin “the Chipmunk” Sharpton can show up for a photo op. You reap what you
    sow!!! Good luck!!

  • Pingback: Nothing to see here, just a giant cloud of Detroit petcoke dust blowing into Canada | Eclectablog()

  • Rob Esquivel

    Subject: Stop The Petcoke Contamination in Chicago


    Think it doesn’t affect you? Take another drink of water. Prolonged exposure creates asthmatic symptoms. It was kicked out of Detroit, and its not allowed to be stored in this manner in Indiana. Why are we subject to this poison?

    That’s why I created a petition to Koch Industries, The Illinois State House, The Illinois State Senate, Governor Pat Quinn, The United States House of Representatives, The United States Senate, and President Barack Obama, which says:

    “Sign on to petition Mayor Rahm Emanuel to protect Lake Michigan and surrounding community from the pollution of exposed piles of petcoke. Koch is bad for your health.”

    Will you sign this petition? Click here: