“If it’s on my countertops, it’s going into my lungs,” [resident Serene Arena] said. “It’s going into the Detroit River and affecting the ecology there. Who knows where else it’s going?” […]The neighborhood within a mile of the pet coke pile is home to thousands of city residents. Whether dust from the pile is putting their health at risk remains a matter of debate. […]The findings counter earlier DEQ reports of no discharge or dust problems emanating from the pet coke pile site.
Besides the unpleasantness of having to wipe black dust off your furniture, the report notes that the pet coke dust may pose a significant public health risk. This hampers the line of argument posed recently by Detroit News columnist Henry Payne, who wrote in the WSJ that “’green’ politicians,” “Democrats,” and “national environmental groups” have been attacking the companies responsible for pet coke refining and storage (a Koch Brothers enterprise among them), potentially costing the near-bankrupt city the high-paying jobs it desperately needs.Via Meadia is usually the first to highlight the benefits of brown jobs; we also have a beef with greens who try to keep those jobs at bay in the service of an absolutist agenda. But the health and environmental concerns posed by some modern-age brown industries appear to be very real, and their problems need to be tackled as aggressively as their merits should be promoted.That means more time and more resources put into the industry’s R&D, not less, and there’s a role for a responsible and creative environmental agenda here. That’s the only way to make this process safer and more environmentally friendly in the long-run.If there’s one city that could really use that kind of thoughtful cooperation, it’s Detroit.[Image of oil refinery courtesy of Shutterstock]