Peters pushes for GAO to study pet coke "best practices"

Aug 6, 2013

The pet coke piles in Detroit, near their height earlier this summer.
The pet coke piles in Detroit, near their height earlier this summer.
Credit Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Detroit Congressman Gary Peters wants the US Government Accountability Office to study petroleum coke.

Peters has asked the Congressional investigative office to examine what are “best practices” for handling the substance, a byproduct of refining Canadian tar sands oil.

Some petroleum coke is being stored openly at a site along the Detroit River near the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit.

Peters’ action is welcome news to some community members in southwest Detroit. They’ve complained about dust escaping the coke piles, and other environmental concerns.

“We absolutely need the Government Accountability Office to do a health impact study. Not only for our families, but also for our communities,” says Michelle Martinez, with the Consortium of Hispanic Agencies. “From Alberta to Ohio, we absolutely need to know all of the risks associated with the tar sands oil coming into Michigan.”

Michigan’s Congressional delegation is also pushing for laws to study pet coke’s health impacts.

The pet coke piles in Detroit have dwindled in recent weeks, as Detroit Bulk Storage, the company handling it, waits on a city permit.

But in the meantime, more piles have popped up further downriver, in suburban River Rouge.