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Video: Pet coke dust cloud seen over Detroit River

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This image of pet coke stored along the Detroit River was captured from SkyFox. This image of pet coke stored along the Detroit River was captured from SkyFox.
DETROIT (WJBK) -

New video showing a giant cloud of black dust rising along the Detroit River is raising more safety concerns about petroleum coke stored along the riverfront.

The video was taken Saturday and posted online by Randy Emerson, a member of the Windsor on Watch environmental group, shows the large dust cloud floating into the air from the three-story pile of petroleum coke along the river in southwest Detroit.

A representative from Detroit Bulk Storage told the Windsor Star a storm moved in while crews loaded the tar sands byproduct onto a ship, carrying some of it into the air as a result.

Petroleum coke is a byproduct of tar sands refining done at the Marathon plant. The pet coke is then sold to the Koch brothers. Koch Minerals contracts with Detroit Bulk Storage. They have the product trucked to a property owned by Matty Moroun and leased in part to Norfolk Southern. It is then shipped off.

Even Moroun doesn't want the pet coke on his property.

"We do not approve any type of storage of these substances on our property that we own," said Ron Patti with Crown Enterprises.

Back in June, Detroit Bulk Storage was ordered to stop accepting petroleum coke at the southwest Detroit site. They were ticketed because they continued to do so, although they have said they are not accepting any more at the moment.

At one point, Detroit Bulk Storage said about 125,000 tons of pet coke was on the property. Now they are down to about 25,000 to 30,000 tons. More is being shipped out soon.

Detroit Bulk now wants a permit to keep the storage operation going. The health risks are not clear. The Department of Environmental Quality is investigating and had requested no visible emissions. Detroit Bulk said that is impossible, but they are taking steps to limit the dust.

The company has refused to disclose just how much money they are making off this operation.

Detroit Bulk Storage has said they are working to address community concerns.

The Detroit Building and Safety Department will make a permitting decision in several weeks.

Fox 2's Amy Lange contributed to this report

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