Killer Karbon Petcoke Pile Looms Over Motown

May 30, 2013

If you think its all about Keystone, think again.  Alberta Tar Sands are already being processed in the Great Lakes region, and efforts are gathering to increase the flow exponentially, with an Enbridge pipeline as larger or larger than Keystone.

New York Times:

WINDSOR, Ontario — Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River.

Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom.

And no one knows quite what to do about it, except Koch Carbon, which owns it.

The company is controlled by Charles and David Koch, wealthy industrialists who back a number of conservative and libertarian causes including activist groups that challenge the science behind climate change. The company sells the high-sulfur, high-carbon waste, usually overseas, where it is burned as fuel.

The coke comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands — and producing the waste that is sold to Koch — only in November.

“What is really, really disturbing to me is how some companies treat the city of Detroit as a dumping ground,” said Rashida Tlaib, the Michigan state representative for that part of Detroit. “Nobody knew this was going to happen.” Almost 56 percent of Canada’s oilproduction is from the petroleum-soaked oil sands of northern Alberta, some 2,000 miles away.


DETROIT, MI – The black petroleum coke piles that have been growing larger along the Detroit River on the city’s Southwest side have drawn concern from local residents and Canadians alike, many of whom are worried about the oil sands byproduct’s environmental impact, not to mention the eyesore. According to an article in the New York Times, the piles are the result of Canada exporting more oil sands byproducts to the United States – a practice it plans to increase.

New York Times again:

Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products derived from oil sands to the United States, which include transporting it through the proposedKeystone XL pipeline, have pulled more coking south to American refineries, creating more waste product here.

Marathon Petroleum’s plant in Detroit processes 28,000 barrels a day of the oil sands bitumen.

Residents on both sides of the Detroit River are concerned that the coke mountain is both an environmental threat and an eyesore.

“Here’s a little bit of Alberta,” said Brian Masse, one of Windsor’s Parliament members. “For those that thought they were immune from the oil sands and the consequences of them, we’re now seeing up front and center that we’re not.”

15 Responses to “Killer Karbon Petcoke Pile Looms Over Motown”

  1. Bruce Miller Says:

    Detroit Stockpiles Tar Sands Coke
    Can’t make cars, steel, or fuel from this? pave roads? Chinese even consider human sewage a resource flow? No imagination in America? No proper science education? No oil technology supremacy? Can ship it to China – Walmarts boats return empty right now? Please! Don’t bitch at Canada. All our branch plants in Ontario are gone back home and we are on welfare and socialist handouts as it is? Give us the oil, let China finance and provide the science and technology, and we will gladly take the jobs turning oil and this product into marketable product? Americans so deeply in debt and to China in particular, we have to build bridges for them now? Very sad ! Your American stock market is recovering – until the next big scams hit it? Loved you when the Oldsmobile straight Eights rolled out of Detroit. Is the romance gone? To China?

    • junkdrawer88 Says:

      Allow me to be the first to say:


    • jimbills Says:

      A carbon source that spews more emissions than coal and whose storage pollutes rivers and groundwater (and in a major metropolitan city no less) – but we should consider it’s all good because it creates more steel and concrete in the world?

      I personally sick of Canadians using the fear tactic of sending their climate bomb “product” to China instead of the U.S. Please do send it to China! Please do poison your own people while you do so. Please do cover your landscape with your own leaky pipelines. While you’re at it, convince the Kochs to go to Saskatchewan or China. That’d be peachy.

      And yes, I do understand that’ll mean we have to make do with less energy, and as a result, less wealth. This’ll just force us to figure other means of reducing our energy consumption and production. It’ll mean we are at least doing something to mitigate climate change for the generations that follow us.

      I’d exchange that and clean air and clean water for fewer SUVs on American roads any day.

    • rayduray Says:


      I always re-read what I intend to post to gauge just how preposterous, silly, ludicrous, injudicious or insane what I write happens to be. Then I often douse the message because of any of these flaws.

      I am deeply impressed that all of these flaws are grandly on display in this mess you’ve published. Thanks for the laughs. And the indiscretion. 🙂

    • petersjazz Says:

      Tar sand dont make sence. Should we ruin the planet just for a couple of jobs in dirty Canada. I hope EU will forbid inport of tar sand oil

  2. andrewfez Says:

    ‘Petcoke’ or ‘coke’ could be initiated with a ‘K’ also: PetKoke, PetKoch, Koke or something like that…..

    I bet every time it rains the water washes through that junk and goes into the river.

  3. Wes Says:

    Sounds like a good place for a John Prine musical break

    “Mr Peabody’s coal train done hauled it away.”

  4. Thanks Wes, here is another,

    Third Worlders see it first: the dynamite, the dozers,
    the cancer and the acid rain
    The corporate caterpillars come into our backyards
    and turn the world to pocket change
    Reservations are the nuclear frontline;
    uranium poisoning kills
    We’re starving in a handful of gluttons
    We’re drowning in their gravy spills
    -Buffy Sainte-Marie

  5. […] Killer Karbon Petcoke Pile Looms Over Motown (Climate Crocks): If you think its all about Keystone, think again. […]

  6. […] 2013/05/30: PSinclair: Killer Karbon Petcoke Pile Looms Over Motown […]

  7. […] Killer Karbon Petcoke Pile Looms Over Motown (Climate Crocks): If you think its all about Keystone, think again. […]

  8. Anyone know exactly when the petcoke piles started being put on the river? Detroit now has an Emergency Manager who worked for Jones Day. Jones Day has represented Marathon Oil in lawsuits. Just wondering if any connection? No permits were even applied for to bring this toxic garbage here.

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