Pet coke dust control plan submitted in Michigan
Department of environment quality calls Detroit Bulk Storage plan 'solid first effort' and orders catch basins sealed
The company storing petroleum coke on the banks of the Detroit River has submitted a draft of a fugitive dust control plan to the Michigan Department of Environment Quality.
The MDEQ's director of communication, Brad Wurfel, said officials have reviewed the plan and sent it back, with suggestions, to Detroit Bulk Storage.
An updated plan is to be sent back to the MDEQ by June 24.
"It was a solid first effort, but there are some things we’d like to have done," Wurfel said.
As a precautionary measure last week, the MDEQ also ordered three catch basins on the property east of the Ambassador Bridge sealed.
"There is no indication that any material got out in to the river," Wurfel said.
Wurfel said there are fishermen along the banks every day. He says they have yet to report anything out of the ordinary to the MDEQ.
"They would have noticed a big, black plume. Something would have been noticed," Wurfel said. "We’re feeling comfortable at this point that nothing has made its way into the river."
Wurfel also said the MDEQ found trucks "tracking" pet coke in areas away from the piles when they come and go from the storage facility.
"We've asked them to put a stop to that," Wurfel said.
'Inert in current state'
Tests by the MDEQ have found no threat to human health.
Wurfel called the pet coke "inert in its current state."
In Ontario, Essex NDP MP Taras Natyshak raised the issue in Queen’s Park on Monday.
"The government’s silence on this has been deafening," Natyshak said during question period. "If the premier has known residents and local leaders have been concerned about pet coke then why hasn’t she taken any action to resolve this problem?"
Premier Kathleen Wynne did not raise the issue at the Council of the Great Lakes Governors Summit last month.
Minister of Environment Jim Bradley responded to Natyshak on Monday.
"The Ministry of Environment has contacted Environment Canada as this is an international situation that has arisen. The International Joint Commission is the lead on this," Bradley said. "We have offered to provide any assistance required.
"We hope to see it resolved as quickly and as expiditiously as possible. We find the situation as it exists unsatisfactory."
Health study requested in U.S.
In the States, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House calling for an investigation into any health and environmental risks posed by the petroleum coke piles along the Detroit River.
Congressman Gary Peters said last week that his Petroleum Transparency and Public Health Study Act seeks information on how Michigan residents are affected by the mounds in southwest Detroit.
He says fellow Democrats and U.S. Reps. John Conyers, John Dingell, Sander Levin and Dan Kildee support the legislation.
The petroleum coke is a byproduct of oil refining used in energy production.
With files from the Associated Press