Protesters to gather in Detroit neighborhood to oppose a concrete crushing plant

Residents say the proposal is the latest example of environmental racism in the city

click to enlarge The proposed site of a concrete crushing plant at 4445 Lawton St. in Core City in Detroit. - Venessa Butterworth
Venessa Butterworth
The proposed site of a concrete crushing plant at 4445 Lawton St. in Core City in Detroit.

Protesters on Wednesday are converging on the site of a proposed concrete crushing plant in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Detroit.

Activists say the proposed facility at 4445 Lawton St. would create dust, noise, exhaust fumes, and other chemicals within a block of a school, church, and an urban farm that provides food to more than 500 people in the Core City neighborhood.

“This is environmental racism,” Venessa Butterworth, who lives a few blocks from the site, tells Metro Times. “This is a majority Black and low-income neighborhood, and time after time, the developer says the area is vacant and that no one lives here. There are hundreds of people who live a block away. They literally don’t see us.”

The protest begins outside the site at 2 p.m. and will include state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and Detroit City Councilwoman Gabriela Santiago-Romero.

“I stand with the residents and neighborhood leaders of Core City and have serious concerns about locating a concrete crushing facility on Lawton Street in such close proximity to neighborhood residents,” Chang said in a statement. “We need to make sure that we protect the public health and quality of life of Core City residents who have done so much to revitalize the neighborhood.”

The rally comes as the Detroit Buildings, Safety Engineering, and Environmental Department (BSEED) considers a proposal by developer Murray Wikol, CEO of ProVisions LLC, to build the plant.

Under the proposal, the CanAm International Trade Crossing plant would receive raw demolished concrete from throughout the state before processing and placing it in a raw stockpile up to 32 feet high.

The plant would also bring 50 to 60 exhaust-spewing dump trucks to the site a day, using roads that “are literally crumbling,” Butterworth says.

Residents are also worried about a nearby bridge that is deteriorating with exposed reinforcing steel.

Another concern is that the area floods a lot and could turn the concrete dust and dirt into a messy, contaminated slurry.

“They are going to be crushing old materials that have silica and asbestos,” Butterworth says. “Who knows what else is in there? They don’t have a plan to mitigate that.”

More than 1,080 people have signed an online petition urging the city to oppose the site plan.

“I live 250 feet from the proposed site in a house that’s been in my family for 40 years,” resident Joanne Arnold said. “I don’t want to breathe the concrete dust, be close to toxic water runoff, or hear the noise of machinery and trucks all day long. Everyone deserves clean air, clean water, and a sense of safety at home – and I will fight until this project is rejected.”

Metro Times couldn’t reach Wikol for comment.

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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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