A spokesperson for Detroit Bulk Storage, the company that stores the waste byproduct from Alberta’s oilsands, said the cloud emerged when the inventory was being loaded onto a ship and a the wind picked up.
“You could say it was a perfect storm where they were loading the vessel (with petcoke) and it broke away into the wind. That’s what people saw,” he told the Windsor Star.
The petcoke came from a refinery owned by Marathon Petroluem, which processes Canada’s oilsands exports, according to MLive. Koch Carbon, run by the well-known brothers Charles and David Koch, owns the “black mound of Canadian oil waste,” as it was called in a New York Times article in May.
Last week, Detroit Bulk Storage said it stopped accepting shipment of petcoke, an inexpensive (and dirty) form of energy, for the time being. The piles should be gone by late August.
A recent New York Times report revealed a plant owned by Nova Scotia Power was using some of the petcoke from the Detroit pile because it’s cheaper than natural gas. The company said its techniques reduce the emissions from its plants, according to Canada.com.
The video, posted on Youtube by Windsor's Randy Emerson of Windsor, prompted a reaction from U.S. Rep Gary Peters. On Tuesday he released a statement saying he’s “concerned and alarmed about repeated reports of petcoke blowing off the piles and into homes and businesses.”
“We’ve been told that the pet coke dust issue is being contained, but here is firsthand evidence to the contrary,” he said.
A popular Facebook groupon the petcoke pile is dedicated to documenting the pile and exposing potential consequences to public health.
Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality has ruled that the pile does not pose health risks.
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