The bomb under the Ambassador
By Joel Thurtell
Forbes Magazine once referred to Detroit Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun as “the troll under the bridge.”
There’s no troll under that bridge.
What’s under the Ambassador Bridge is a bomb.
And no, I’m not talking about the unexploded rocket-propelled grenade police divers found last week in the Detroit River not far from the bridge.
It’s unsettling to learn that someone actually got hold of a grenade, a military weapon, let alone dropped it in the river a couple hundred yards from a bridge that carries one-fourth of the goods that pass between the U.S. and Canada.
But believe me, that rocket-propelled grenade is a mere firecracker compared to what Ambassador Bridge owner and international trucking tycoon Manuel (Matty) Moroun has tucked under the U.S. side of his span.
Three hundred thousand gallons of explosives.
Oh, Matty doesn’t call it a bomb.
He calls it a money-maker.
Three hundred thousand gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, stored under the elevated U.S. approach to the bridge, for sale at pumps outside Matty’s duty-free Ammex store.
An explosion at the bridge could kill lots of people and cut truck movement between two countries.
On the other hand, Matty makes a lot money selling gas.
Check it out at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality website — it’s Facility ID 00035589 at 3400 W. Lafayette in Detroit. The owner is Matty’s Ammex, Inc. The record shows 17 underground gasoline and diesel fuel tanks ranging in size between 20,000 and 30,000 gallons on the MDEQ “Storage Tank Facilities List.”.
Readers of joelontheroad.com may recall how late in September I went looking for a city of Detroit boat launch that I’d heard was closed down by Matty, citing security concerns for the bridge.
One of Matty’s shotgun-toting goons tried to detain me as I took pictures of the bridge from publicly-owned Riverside Park. Supposedly, I posed some kind of threat to the bridge.
Talk about threats to the bridge. Can you believe it? Every day, Matty’s serving a Molotov cocktail of 60,000 gallons gas and 240,000 gallons diesel fuel.
A rocket-propelled grenade by itself couldn’t wreck the Ambassador bridge. But a rocket shot at those fuel bunkers would be a different story. The number of grenades needed to render the Ambassador Bridge a useless, smoldering ruin would be approximately one.
But who needs an RPG?
That Ammex store has all the detonators a terrorist would need.
How about a lit cigarette?
Or a BIC lighter?
Munitions by Matty.
All the makings of a big boom, sold at a profit by Matty Moroun.
I wonder — Why does the city of Detroit, why does the county of Wayne, why does the state of Michigan, why does the federal government let Matty Moroun house a bomb under his bridge?
Drop me a line at joelthurtell(at)gmail.com