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I am watching in horror as the sky fills again over Detroit with black, billowing chemical smoke. The source of the fire is the Sterling Oil & Chemical Co. that handles, stores and blends industrial lubricants including hydraulic oils, greases and petroleum products for companies such as Dow and Exxon-Mobil. The flames are threatening to ignite large towers of fuel.
Seen as far away as Ontario, the smoke is overtaking normal air as the cloud-covered area holds it in. Several factors are helpful: no real wind, wind direction is NE directed away from the fuel storage tanks and low temperatures today only 64 degrees F with rain possible. This is the 2nd chemical fire in a week. What’s going on? Petroleum distillate is the chemical that is burning, which is the ingredient in STP and other engine cleaning treatments. So this is quick to ignite and harsh burning. The fire looks the same, really worse, over an hour and a half into fighting it.
There is no word of the cause of this fire as of yet. Immediately, my mind goes to someone’s error whether intentional or accidental. There is no word whether anyone was hurt. The flames overtake the news. There is nothing else happening here. Evacuees interviewed on the news grabbed their families and left their homes out of instinct. No one needed to tell them to evacuate; they just did it. The nearby Amtrak rails are buckling from the intense heat. This fire forces another infrastructure repair for Detroit.
If Detroit is being pruned, what will the new growth be? Hopefully, it will not be more toxic chemicals. I call on my family, friends and neighbors to be inventive and help revive Detroit with new, less harmful industries.
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by Anita Nelson
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