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

Pet coke piles on Detroit riverfront in 2013.
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.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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