We’ve embedded a meeting notice at the bottom of this post, from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality site. The planned informational session regarding petroleum coke and discussion regarding an upcoming permit application from Detroit Bulk Storage to establish a storage yard at 530 Great Lakes St, River Rouge, bordering on Ecorse with a dock on the Detroit River.
According to the notice MDEQ is out to prove petcoke is not cancerous. What needs to be read are the OSHA guidelines which call this out as a hazardous respiratory product, with recommendations to use a respirator and keep dust from the product off your skin.
Is This An Existing Situation?
Last year we documented petroleum coke being stored and shipped from this location. We had heard the site was not prepared with a pad to handle storm water flow, and even took some photos showing that condition. You’ll find we even got a photo of the freighter “Saginaw” being loaded at the dock on the property.
Some may say there are no residents neighboring the storage yard location. There is a marina around the corner, and the water of the Detroit River continues to be used throughout metropolitan Detroit, Windsor, and further into Lake Erie.
We’ve also seen the management techniques Detroit Bulk Storage has used, such as a wood panel to keep petcoke piled next to the water from spilling into the river. How they managed to get a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) allowing them to self-treat & monitor emissions of storm water into the Detroit River seems to be a miracle. This is the work being done through our State Implementation Plan of EPA regulations.
Fishermen should be at arms, these chemical deposits are sitting on the bottom of the river affecting a number of deep water species such as catfish. Petcoke does contain compounds which aren’t safe for fish – including lead, and some which even with treatment of storm water isn’t going to remove in sufficient quantity. Nearby Belanger Park has a fishing safety advisory sign listing unsafe species.
The Detroit Free Press interviewed a couple fishermen in their article from March 3rd. As Bob Griggs said, the attitude seems to be “What’s One More?” It does seem the public has become more aware and concerned in the past year. There has been news coverage of petroleum coke problems in Detroit and SE Chicago/Whiting. We’ve posted the event on Facebook and have a number of people attending and stating they’ll be bringing neighbors and family.
A dock operation in the Port of Toledo continues to handle petcoke hauled by truck from the Marathon Refinery in Detroit, but that’s not the only location to sight petcoke haulers. There’s a regular procession daily from the refinery, down Schaefer, to Jefferson, then to Great Lakes Rd. You’ll find chunks of petcoke littering the road along the path. The condition of the roads is steadily deteriorating. There’s a place on Great Lakes Rd past US Steel that has craters big enough to swallow the front wheels of a car. Last year a water main broke on Rosa Parks Blvd due to the heavy loads traveling in an area that was never prepared to handle them.