State regulators turn up heat on Stellantis over nauseating odor at Jeep plant

Nov 18, 2021 at 1:13 pm
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.

Michigan environmental regulators are taking “escalated enforcement” action against Stellantis for failing to adequately address a months-long nauseating odor wafting from its year-old Jeep assembly plant in Detroit.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) said Thursday that it will fine Stellantis and establish a compliance plan to eliminate the stench in the area surrounding the Mack Assembly Plant on St. Jean on the city’s east side.

The state also is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct air monitoring with its mobile lab.

“Escalating enforcement in a case where pollution control equipment was not installed properly, causing odors and health concerns from the community, is vital,” Chris Ethridge, field operations supervisor for EGLE’s Air Quality Division, said in a statement. “The requirements in an air permit are necessary to protect the community. If the permit is not followed, companies must be held accountable.”

The announcement comes three days after residents living near the plant filed a federal civil rights complaint against EGLE, alleging racial discrimination for allowing the automaker to increase air emissions in a predominately Black city.

EGLE has issued three air quality violation notices to Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, for the odor and for allegedly failing to properly contain emissions.

The state plans to explore a potential supplemental environmental project, a voluntary agreement with the company to “secure significant improvements in environmental quality and public health.”

Before the enforcement action is taken, EGLE will seek comments from residents. In its statement, EGLE pledged to be “vigilant in inspecting and monitoring the source (of the odor) and responding to residents’ complaints.”

Earlier this month, EGLE launched a website focused on air quality issues at Stellantis’ facilities in Michigan.

Stellantis recently launched a hotline to report odors emanating from the plant. The toll-free line is 833-310-2313.

On Monday, U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, state Sen. Stephanie Chang, D-Detroit, and Detroit City Council member-elect Latisha Johnson, whose district includes the Stellantis plant, sent a letter to EGLE Director Liesl Clark, urging the state to impose hefty fines on the automaker.

Stay connected with Detroit Metro Times. Subscribe to our newsletters, and follow us on Google News, Apple News, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, or TikTok.