Petcoke on street

What is Petcoke

Petcoke on streetPetroleum Coke, also known as pet-coke is a byproduct of oil refining from tar sands (heavy crude oil mixed with sand, clay and bitumen).  The pet-coke that’s piling up along the Detroit River is low-grade and is high in sulphur and heavy metals making it only useable for electricity. Pet-coke is almost entirely made of carbon, which means that it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than tar sands oil and coal when used for electricity. It is known for being the dirtiest of dirty fuel.

Until recently most power plants in the US or Canada will not burn pet-coke for fuel because it is so polluting. So it is shipped it countries like china, India and Mexico with relatively loose emission controls.

The petcoke piles are being stored along the Detroit River without being covered or contained in any way. This harmful substance can disperse into the air and water anytime the wind blows, something that is causing harm to the people who live nearby. Just another case of the oil and gas industry ignoring the human and ecological costs fossil fuels incur.


Research Links

  • Bundle of Bitmarks – includes event links, research and more
  • EPA Title 40 – Protecting the Environment in the Code For Regulations, includes:
    • 40 CFR 260 – Hazardous Waste Management System: General
    • 40 CFR 261 – Identification and Listing of Hazardous Waste
    • 40 CFR 262 – Standards Applicable to Generators of Hazardous Waste
  • EPA training materials on RCRA hazardous materials | RCRA Online – RCRA = Resource Conservation and Recovery Act
  • NY Times – Toxic Water Polluters in Michigan
  • Supporting the argument of no land storage of wastes from coking processes [1992 ruling]
  • Gasifipedia – explaining the gasification process and its challenges


    Nickel / Nickel Compounds Cancer 7440-02-0
    Chromium, Hexavalent Compounds Cancer 18540-29-9
    Lead Cancer / Developmental 7439-92-1
    Benzopyrene Cancer 50-32-8
    Indenopyrene Cancer 193-39-5

    Materials Safety Data Sheet on Petroleum Coke

    A ton of petcoke yields on average 53.6 percent more Carbon dioxide (CO2) than a ton of coal. CO2 is the greatest contributor to man-made climate change.

    • “Canadian Tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with Bitumen, contain TWICE the amount of Carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history” – NASA Scientist James Hansen

    • In the Beginning of May 2013 CO2 levels in the atmosphere reached 400 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere, higher concentrations than we’ve seen in the last 800,000 years.

    • The dumping of hazardous waste on Detroit by Marathon & the Koch Bros. is the corporate influence over democracy, environmental racism, and the essence of what is wrong with our dirty and destructive energy and an economics system putting profit & power before people & planet.



Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands

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