Regulate Ever-Expanding Refinery Responsible for Cancer in Residents

Target: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Gina McCarthy

Goal: Regulate refineries that are polluting the air with carcinogens and give residents the resources to relocate.

Residents living near a continually expanding tar sands refinery are unable to move away from the heavily polluted air. Refining tar sand oil is considered one of the dirtiest fuel sources, more so than refining conventional oil. Residents living near the refinery suffer abnormally high rates of cancer and other illnesses.

What was once a small refining plant in Boynton, Detroit has grown to the proportions of a city. Smoke stacks tower behind the homes releasing extremely dangerous carcinogens and hydrocarbons, like benzene. The emissions make the air reek with a strong odor that spreads throughout the city and causes throat irritation.

Since the refinery switched from a conventional oil refinery to tar sands refinery, the air quality has become noticeably worse. The refinery, owned by the Marathon Petroleum Corp., continues to expand to refine higher volumes of tar sands imported from Alberta, Canada. They are actively choosing to protect their profits before they protect people.

Companies like Marathon often decline to clarify exactly which chemicals are mixed with the tar sands oil to make it flow through pipelines more easily. Simply refusing to disclose the chemicals used is a clear indicator of their toxicity and disinterest for the community.

Residents can’t move away to escape the unhealthy and irritating air because their home values have plummeted. Realtors price the homes at less than $16,000–not nearly enough to purchase a home away from the unsafe, cancer-causing elements in their air. Furthermore, this new type of oil refining is not regulated by Canada or the United States and little research has been done to understand the long-term health risks associated with the chemicals used and emissions released.

Marathon Petroleum Corp. should compensate the Boynton homeowners for the devaluation of their homes and for the dangers imposed on their health. Before oil refineries ever take their responsibilities seriously, however, they need to be regulated. Demand that the United States regulate tar sand oil refineries and tell Marathon Petroleum Corp. that you don’t support imposing health risks on the local community.


Dear Administrator McCarthy,

Residents living next to the tar sand refinery owned by Marathon Petroleum Corp. cannot run away from being exposed to the carcinogens and bad smells being expelled by the refinery’s tall smoke stacks. Residents in the Boynton neighborhood in Detroit are unable to sell their sharply devalued homes because of the growing, toxic, and unbearable refinery looming just behind them. The residents are forced to live where they do not feel safe to breathe.

The residents of Boynton have irritated throats, higher rates of cancer, and no chance of escape. The United States has a responsibility to its citizens to regulate tar sand oil refineries. I demand that tar sand refineries be regulated and that Marathon Petroleum Corp., which is currently imposing health risks on the local community, compensate the residents for the devaluation of their homes.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mack Male

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