It's unfortunate that petroleum coke ('petcoke' for short), a byproduct created when tar-like bitumen from the Alberta oil sands is turned into gasoline, has crept back into local conversations. Most people believed the battle over petcoke ended last year when Detroit Bulk Storage, the company that allowed small mountains of the byproduct to be stored along the Detroit River, agreed to back down and halt the process. The company now intends to move the effort downriver, as the state's Department of Environmental Quality considers a permit from Detroit Bulk to begin storing petcoke again. That was the focal point of town hall debates near River Rouge last month. There's still very little known about the effects of petcoke, and for that reason alone, there's no reason to feel warm and fuzzy about it for the time being.
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