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Detroit Refinery, Owned By Marathon, Reveals One other Aspect Of The ‘Tar Sands Oil’ Debate

The talk over the Keystone XL Pipeline has bubbled up once more, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calling the State Department’s environmental affect analysis of the proposed mission “inadequate.” But concerns concerning the so-called “tar sands” heavy crude oil it will carry aren’t restricted to the pipeline’s proposed route from Alberta, Canada to Texas.

On April 20, protesters gathered within the central Michigan metropolis of Marshall, the place a pipeline owned by a company known as Enbridge spilled 800,000 gallons of heavy crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. The demonstrators came from as far as Detroit to oppose “tar sand oil” and to demand a cleanup of the river.

It’s not surprising Detroiters can be among the group. The Motor Metropolis is now a serious destination for that specific sort of petroleum, resulting from a recent $2.2 billion enlargement of a Marathon Oil refinery that allows the ability to course of more heavy crude oil from tar sands.

Whereas the enhancement has created an estimated 135 jobs, it is also elevated the capability of the corporate’s Detroit facility from about 106,000 barrels-per-day to one hundred twenty,000 — much to the chagrin of local environmentalists. After hearing in regards to the undertaking, Theresa Landrum, an environmental justice activist who lives near the ability, researched the anticipated emissions and was disturbed.

“We found horrible issues. Carcinogens, carbon monoxide, benzene and toluene, which harm the nervous system, methyl ethyl ketone, which could cause blindness. Lots of actually dangerous stuff,” she stated in a Sierra Membership launch.

Marathon has taken measures to regulate the plant’s air quality. In April 2012, it agreed to a settlement with the EPA and the U.S. Division of Justice to install state-of-the-art controls on combustion gadgets often called flares and to cap the volume of waste fuel at its refineries.

The corporate touts the Detroit facility’s environmental stewardship on its webpage, noting that it is the first on the earth to obtain a Responsible Care 14001 certification for its well being, setting, security and safety techniques from the American Chemical Council. It is also been honored with an award for workplace security and health excellence by the Michigan Occupational Security and Health Administration.

But Marathon’s practices are still not without controversy. The company has bought up properties within the low-earnings neighborhood surrounding the plant in an effort to alleviate concerns and create a buffer zone. It is situated in an area designated by a 2010 College of Michigan petrochemical plant for sale study as Michigan’s most polluted zip code (48217).

Final September, Marathon was cited with a nuisance violation by the DEQ after residents complained of an “overpowering odor,” in line with Mother Jones.

Extra just lately, residents have been involved about huge black piles appearing alongside the petrochemical plant for sale Detroit River. They’re made up of a cloth generally known as petroleum coke, or petcoke, that originates from the Marathon facility and is being bought to an organization known as Koch Minerals LLC.

Marathon mentioned that since they do not personal either the petcoke or the property where the mounds of the petcoke had been dumped, they aren’t liable for shifting it.

The Michigan Department of Environmental High quality (DEQ) conducted assessments on the petcoke, following concerns expressed by U.S. Reps. Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Township) and John Conyers (D-Detroit), but found them not to be hazardous.

Not satisfied with these results, State Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) collected samples for unbiased testing last month and is now ready on the outcomes. She’s also involved about the potential for polluted stormwater to move into the Detroit River, although DEQ Water Sources Division spokesman Andrew Hartz told the Detroit News last week that the piles are being managed to forestall that form of runoff.