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US House subcommittee wants answers from Stellantis, US Ecology facilities in Detroit

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Jennifer Fassbender
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A U.S. House subcommittee has sent letters to a pair of Detroit industrial facilities, demanding answers for their history of environmental violations.

The letters went out last week from the Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Environment to the Stellantis Mack Avenue plant, and U.S. Ecology’s Detroit South hazardous waste facility. Detroit Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is the subcommittee’s vice chair.

The letters outline the environmental, health, and quality of life concerns that residents leaving near both sites raised during an August field hearing in Detroit. They also ask company managers a series of detailed questions and request answers by this Thursday.

In the letter to Stellantis, subcommittee members note that the Mack Avenue facility has received seven violations in under two years of operations. The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy just finalized a consent agreement with Stellantis meant to remedy the problems, but the letter expresses doubts that it goes far enough.

“We share residents’ concerns about whether a consent order will effectively hold your company accountable, deter future violations, and deliver clean air and a safe environment for nearby residents,” the letter reads.

“EGLE’s enforcement action is welcome, but major questions must be addressed to ensure this consent order is in the best interests of residents, public health, and the environment — not just Stellantis.”

In the letter to U.S. Ecology, the subcommittee shared how residents at the field hearing “described how your pollution degrades their quality of life and the life-threatening consequences that your operations create every day.”

“We are deeply concerned that your company’s actions have confined residents to their homes, some hooked up to breathing machines, because the air outside is rotten, metallic, and fishy, filled with dust and volatile organic compounds,” it continues.

The letter notes that the facility has received 35 state violation notices since 2014, including nine issued after U.S. Ecology entered into a state consent decree in 2020. “It is alarming that a facility under a robust consent decree would violate its permits and the law even once — let alone nine times in just two years,” it says.

The letter urges U.S. Ecology to enter into a Host Community Agreement with the surrounding neighborhood, which it says would “allow you to take concrete steps with residents and the City of Detroit to address community concerns and create a safer, healthier community for everyone.”

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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