Detroiters slam regulators for lax approach to stinky Stellantis plant

A nauseating smell has been wafting from the plant on Detroit's east side for more than a year.

click to enlarge A nauseating stench is wafting from the Stellantis' Jeep Grand Cherokee plant on St. Jean on Detroit's east side. - Facebook/Justice for Beniteau Residents
Facebook/Justice for Beniteau Residents
A nauseating stench is wafting from the Stellantis' Jeep Grand Cherokee plant on St. Jean on Detroit's east side.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Detroiters who live near a stench-emitting Stellantis plant told state regulators on Wednesday that a proposed remedy with the automaker does not go far enough to protect residents.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) reached a proposed consent order in September to require Stellantis to address the nauseating smell that has been wafting from the plant for more than a year.

Earlier this month, EGLE slapped Stellantis with a sixth air quality violation notice for “persistent and objectionable paint/solvent and chemical odors.”

Under the consent order, which is subject to community input, Stellantis would pay a $63,000 fine, plant 80 trees in a nearby park, and buy a new building management system for Southeast High School.

Stellantis is also installing a regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) to destroy hazardous air pollutants.

Tlaib, D-Detroit, and neighbors of the plant on the city’s east side said the order amounts to a slap on the wrist. Residents want stricter penalties, and some are asking for reimbursements to relocate.

On Wednesday, Tlaib and impacted residents gathered at a public hearing hosted by EGLE.

“People can’t even go outside just to sit on their porch because they’ll get a headache (or) a nose bleed,” Tlaib said at the hearing. “It is disgusting.”

Resident Robert Shobe said it should never have gotten to this point.

"In a perfect world this wouldn't be necessary because all the entities involved would have people at the forefront as opposed to money,” Shobe said. “I would like people to understand that our health is being held hostage by this (consent order) process."

Others called on EGLE to stop allowing polluters to build plants in predominantly Black neighborhoods.

“Sadly, EGLE was warned of the health impacts this plant posed before it granted a single permit for its expansion,” Andrew Bashi, staff attorney for the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, said. “We hope they finally learn a lesson from this – that they can and must prevent communities of color from bearing the disproportionate negative impacts of pollution before facilities are built."

Stellantis invested $1.6 billion into the Mack Engine Complex. which is adjacent to a predominantly Black neighborhood, to build Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs beginning in the summer of 2021.

In November 2021 , five residents filed a civil rights complaint against EGLE for allowing the plant to increase emissions of toxic contaminants. They also allege the state failed to analyze the cumulative impact of air pollution before issuing the emission permits.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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