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Pet coke expands, and pollutes everywhere

By Dave Armstrong - 22 Oct 2013 6:25:0 GMT
Pet coke expands, and pollutes everywhere

All the forests cleared, bright outlook for petrochemical industries in Edmonton and heavy increases in the use of the tar sands of Northern Alberta. But what about the refining and waste left in Chicago, Detroit, Ohio, and now in Asia and South America too? Pollution image; Credit: © Shutterstock

The state of petroleum coke wastes is causing a lot of concern, as Canadian tar sands are exploited and the waste shipped south. With no place to go, the piles of high carbon, high sulphur, high levels of heavy-metal waste are used, gradually, for export to South America and Asia, but meanwhile, they stand 5 stories high.

One of the main problems is the emerging, earth-wide problem of particle pollution. At 5 stories, apartments nearby are flooded with fine particles, which must be annoying as well as causing big problems with breathing and those who already have asthmatic symptoms. The source of this new carbon time-bomb is The Alberta tar sands, but the cities refining and using this waste product are Detroit and Chicago, with some "safely" taken out of the city to poor old Ohio! Charming name that is, to dump on somebody else. Would you like some pet coke?

A few months ago, a cloud of dust over the Detroit River was spotted as far away as Windsor, in Canada, and naturally, respiratory problems were reported. A Republican representative is quoted as saying that this tar sand product, "is dirtier than the dirtiest fuel." He was particularly concerned about public health and the environment on the Detroit waterfront, but the problems for Ohio, South America and Asia are no less extreme. Water, air and health are simply big problems, but unbelievably, some companies are actually burning this coke.

Like the coke obtained from coal, it makes a very adequate energy source. The effects though are worth examining. With all of the selenium, mercury, sulphur as well as the high carbon content, coal would seem cleaner! Nations importing this "rubbish" are polluting the air and adding to greenhouse effect, without actually mining the fossil fuel. Power stations and cement kilns are the sink for this pollution. Exporting coal to Europe is the US current way of making money from fuels displaced by fracking products. There is a name for this kind of dumping, despite the use of coal in old power stations that have yet to be decommissioned.

Future plans include expanding this wonderful new tar sand product to include US plants in the Mid-west and the Gulf Coast. It's likely that local bans could lead to more exporting. Certainly, Ohio looks threatened. Maybe it can be persuaded to go away to Europe too? Look out world!