Petroleum coke storage plan draws opposition

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RIVER ROUGE, Mich. (AP) — A proposal to store petroleum coke along the Detroit River has drawn opposition from some area residents after problems at another southeastern Michigan storage site.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality plans a community meeting Wednesday in Wyandotte on the proposal to use a 15-acre site in nearby River Rouge. Petcoke piles along the river in Detroit drew complaints last year and city officials ordered them removed.

Detroit Bulk Storage is applying for a DEQ air permit to store and ship petcoke from River Rouge. A formal hearing is expected later this year. Petroleum coke, or petcoke, is a solid byproduct generated by petroleum refineries. It's commonly burned as fuel in cement kilns and power plants.

The proposed storage area is far more industrial than the one used last year in Detroit, but residential neighborhoods are less than a half-mile away. River Rouge's Belanger Park on the riverfront is about a quarter-mile away.

Harry Marx and Bob Griggs grew up in Wyandotte.

"I don't want that at all," said Marx, 51, as he and Griggs launched a boat from Belanger Park to go fishing for perch on Friday. "That dust blowing into the water? The river is finally coming back."

Detroit Bulk Storage Vice President Noel Frye told the Detroit Free Press (http://on.freep.com/NMm7rw ) that company has long used the land for storing materials such as limestone and salt. It also stored petroleum coke there for a few years in the early-to-mid 2000s, he said.

"I haven't had a complaint on that facility, as far as environmental goes, in all the time that we've been there," he said. "We've been there for 30 years and most people don't even know we exist down there."

Tarps and epoxy seal would be parts of a broader effort to prevent petcoke pollution, he said.

On Wednesday, DEQ air and water quality specialists will listen to concerns, discuss the department's regulatory role, answer questions and share information gathered from a DEQ lab analysis of petcoke completed last year, DEQ spokesman Brad Wurfel said.

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Information from: Detroit Free Press, http://www.freep.com

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