Petroleum coke storage on Detroit River ends

For the time being, petroleum coke will no longer be stored in piles on the U.S. banks of the Detroit River.

Detroit Bulk Storage says it made a business decision to stop storing crude oil byproduct in Detroit

The petroleum coke is leaving the banks of the Detroit River. 2:47

For the time being, petroleum coke will no longer be stored in piles on the U.S. banks of the Detroit River.

A spokesperson for Detroit Bulk Storage, which had been stockpiling and shipping the crude oil byproduct, says it made a a business decision to stop accepting the pet coke for now.

The piles have been greatly reduced and the company expects them to be gone by late August.

Detroit Bulk Storage will still go ahead with plans and permits to store the pet coke in the future.

The city of Detroit is still going to hold hearings into permit applications for the storage of the pet coke.

Environmental groups have promised to attend those hearings to oppose the applications.

Local activists are happy to see it go but they don't like the idea that it's still being used as a cheap energy source. Pet coke is burned much like coal.

"Our concern is where is it going to go and what the process is," Bonnie Drago of Windsor on Watch. "Our biggest concern is the actual pet coke itself."

Earlier this summer, the Nicholson Terminal west of the Ambassador stopped accepting and storing pet coke.

"It was a silly idea to put it there in the first place; not well thought out but as far as moving it," said Mark Bartlett, a member of the CAW's environmental committee.

Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality says the pet coke is non toxic. The Council of Canadians disagrees.

"The DEQ tested a small sample in one pile, one corner of the pile, and they didn't test the whole  pile," said the council's Doug Hayes.

The pet coke originates from the oil sands in Alberta. The oil is refined at the Marathon Oil refinery in Detroit.

Environmental groups are opposed to it because they say it contributes to carbon in the atmosphere.

"We're going and digging deeper to squeeze the last drop of oil out of the planet but what we need to be doing is looking at alternatives for energy," Bartlett said.

Environmentalists are still concerned about where the pet coke will be stored and how it will affect people and the environment.

"We need to look at how it's transported, how it's produced, how its stored in a way that's going to be environmentally friendly," Bartlett said.

Windsor on Watch members plan to meet with Sierra Club members in Detroit July 31to talk about local environmental concern, including the pet coke.