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Marathon Petroleum Co. plans to buy up homes around Detroit refinery

Marathon Petroleum Co. has announced that it will offer to buy more than 300 homes near the southwest Detroit refinery that is being upgraded to process more Canadian tar sands oil.

Residents of the Oakwood Heights neighborhood — part of the most polluted zip code area in the state — have long complained about emissions from the Marathon refinery and some have fought the plant’s expansion as an environmental injustice.

The Detroit News reports that Marathon wants to buy out nearby residents and tear down their homes to create a buffer area between the plant and other residential areas.

Homeowners will be offered the average price of two appraisals or $40,000 — whichever amount is greater — as the base purchase price.

Owners will receive a premium bonus amounting to 50 percent of the average appraised price.

A $5,000 allowance of miscellaneous expenses will be available for owners.

Those who sign up for the program within the next four months are eligible for a $1,000 bonus.

A $500 allowance for owners to seek real estate advice.

Up to $1,500 in assistance for new mortgage assistance.

“Someone with a $30,000 appraised home is going to walk away with $61,000,” said Tracy Case, a division manager with Marathon Petroleum, on Wednesday.

City and state officials have expressed approval of the buy-out program.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has expressed concerns about the health impacts that tar sands oil refining may have on local communities.

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