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Petcoke cloud from storm July 27 13 (by 3860remerson)

  • The massive cloud of dust sweeping across the Detroit River was thick and black. Within seconds of spotting it, Windsor resident Randy Emerson knew, with a sinking feeling, exactly what it was.
  • “Is that the pet coke?” Emerson, who captured stunning YouTube footage of the cloud on his cellphone at the Windsor waterfront on Saturday evening, asked his wife.
  • “Oh my God,” he concluded. “Yep — that’s pet coke.”
  • For months, tall black piles of petroleum coke, commonly called pet coke, have been controversially stored on industrial property in Detroit near the Ambassador Bridge, prompting concerns from local residents over potential environmental and health impacts.
  • According to Emerson, a member of the Windsor on Watch environmental group, those fears came to fruition on Saturday.
  • The pet coke piles were produced at Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in Detroit and are owned by Koch Carbon, a company owned by the American billionaire Koch brothers, famed for their support of conservative political causes.
  • Detroit billionaire Matty Moroun’s real-estate entity, Crown Enterprises, owns the property where pet coke is being stored. But according to Crown Enterprises president Michael Samhat, Norfolk Southern has a perpetual lease for the land, and is responsible for subcontracting its use.
  • Detroit Bulk announced earlier this month that it has stopped accepting shipments of pet coke. Koch Carbon, which did not respond to a request for comment, has said that it plans to store the pet coke in another, as yet unnamed, state.