Force Oil Company to Clean Up Waste in Detroit

Target: Gary R. Heminger, President and CEO of Marathon Petroleum Corporation

Goal: Urge Marathon Oil to take responsibility for its waste products and stop polluting the Detroit river front.

Mysterious black mounds of waste have been growing on the Detroit riverfront. The mounds began as just a few small piles, but now they tower over four stories in height and several hundred meters in length.

What are these black mounds? Although residents originally thought they were made of coal, the mounds are actually petroleum coke waste material filtered out of crude oil. Where is this waste coming from? It’s being filtered out by none other than the nearby Marathon Oil refinery.

Detroit residents are concerned, and for good reason. Resident, Ruth Germain, stated in an interview with The Winsor Star, “I worry that whatever it is could have dust blowing over. I worry that it’s a health issue — for the air and the water.”

The property under the pile of waste is owned by billionaire businessman and owner of the nearby Ambassador Bridge, Matty Moroun. The waste dumping project is shrouded in darkness, and not even the bridge company president seems to know what’s going on. Bridge president, Dan Stamper, stated in his defense, “It’s not us. There are others with a lease on the property and we are not sure they are allowed to do what they are doing. We have our real estate folks looking into it. We are asking what are they doing — and under what authority are they doing it?”

As unsettling as this is, the response from the source of the waste, Marathon Oil, is even more disturbing. After a site visit and several phone calls by local newspaper, The Star, Marathon Oil spokesman, Brandon Daniels passed the buck as well. “A third-party has been purchasing coke from our facility and I believe has been stockpiling it there,” he said. “Once it has left our facility, I cannot confirm the customer’s plans or intended use for the product. That’s their prerogative.”

Although the oil waste is listed as a non-hazardous substance by the federal government, residents have already noticed a decrease in air and water quality in the area. A film of black dust has begun to cover nearby patios, cars, and buildings. Due to the close proximity of the waste mounds to the riverfront, physical discharge has been accumulating in the river as well. While the long-term impact of the black mounds is not yet clear, there’s no way these are environmentally safe.

Sign the below petition to urge Marathon Oil to take responsibility for its waste products and stop polluting the Detroit river front.

[gravityform id=1 name=Signthe Petition: ajax=false]


Dear Mr. Heminger,

It’s no secret that Detroit’s dismal financial status makes it difficult to monitor industrial sites and prosecute environmental violations. However, it is unacceptable for your corporation to take advantage of Detroit’s misfortune for your own financial gain.

The black mounds of petroleum coke along the riverfront must be cleaned up and future oil waste must be disposed of in a manner that does not harm the environment. After just a short time, Detroit residents have already noticed a decrease in the air and water quality in their city.

I am urging you to organize clean-up efforts to properly store and dispose of your corporation’s oil waste and implement procedures to properly dispose of all oil waste in the future. Do not drive Detroit into an even deeper depression. This is your home too, so help us make it beautiful again.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: romanm via Wikimedia

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  1. This waste should not be sitting in the open air anywhere, but especially not by a river.
    Please take action now! Do not let this worsen.

  2. We don’t like breathing in the dust downwind. LIKE or SHARE

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