Residents of Detroit who complained of a pungent smell of paint emanating from the new Mack assembly plant in the east of the city were turned away on Monday as they tried to hand over petitions demanding protection of the environment.
The problem is an overwhelming, headache-causing stench from the year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee assembly plant operated by Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
Residents and activists have collected more than 5,000 signatures on a petition calling on Stellantis to meet with residents of Detroit “to negotiate environmental and health protections for area residents.”
On Monday morning, they attempted to deliver the petitions to leaders at Stellantis headquarters in Auburn Hills. But when they arrived, they were stopped by security and no one accepted the petitions.
“We have been calling to account for two years now. It’s frustrating, ”said Eden Bloom, organizer of the Detroit People’s Platform human rights group and lives near the plant. Metro timetable. “The residents only had one independent meeting and it was with us pushing and pushing and pushing to get them to sit down. It’s almost like they recognize us, they recognize the problem.
For months, residents who live near the factory have reported a strong odor.
Finally, last month, after an investigation, the Michigan Department of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy filed a Notice of Violation for “moderate to strong” paint odors. The stench is “objectionable and of sufficient intensity, duration and frequency to constitute a violation” and “unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property,” the notice states.
In response to the breach, Stellantis said last week it had taken steps “to minimize odors.”
“FCA is monitoring the equipment in the painting process very closely to identify any operating conditions that could cause odors to leak into the general atmosphere of the building and potentially be released from the building’s ventilation system,” wrote Mack factory manager Michael Brieda in a letter Monday to EGLE’s Air Quality Division.
Metro timetable could not reach Stellantis for comment.
EGLE is expected to respond to Stellantis’ response soon.
In the meantime, residents need to be concerned about potential dangers from the plant. The area around the pants has some of the highest asthma hospitalization rates in the state.
Pollution is a constant problem in the predominantly black city. The University of Michigan School of Public Health estimates that air pollution kills more than 650 Detroit residents per year, more than double the number of residents killed each year by gun violence. Thousands more are hospitalized and children miss a disproportionate number of days of school because of illness and asthma.
Numerous studies have shown that black communities nationwide are disproportionately exposed to industrial air pollution. African Americans, for example, are 75% more likely to live near industrial facilities than whites, according to “Fumes Across the Fence-Line,” a 2017 study by the National Medical Association, the Clean Air Task. Force and the National Association for the Advancement of People of Color.
The study estimates that nearly 2,500 children a year in Detroit have asthma attacks linked to air pollution.
The Michigan Department of Community Health has designated the Tri-Cities region as “the epicenter of the asthma burden.” The asthma hospitalization ratio is three to six times higher in Wayne County than in the rest of the state, according to the American Lung Association.
“The disparity in the asthma burden in Detroit deserves continued attention,” says a 2016 study from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Public health efforts should continue to be directed towards people with asthma in Detroit in order to improve asthma control and prevent serious consequences.”
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