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Michigan approves Fiat Chrysler's Mack plant environmental plan

Keith Laing
The Detroit News

The state of Michigan has approved Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plan to address air-quality concerns from its new Mack Avenue assembly plant on Detroit’s east side. 

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy’s Air Quality Division determined Fiat Chrysler’s plans to address and monitor environmental conditions at the site are now acceptable after previously finding them "lacking" and "not acceptable," according to a letter to the automaker.

Mary Ann Dolehanty, director of the Environment, Great Lakes and Energy department's Air Quality Division, said FCA submitted satisfactory amendments to its Additional Projects Plan and revised Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Program Work Plan for the new site. 

The rendering is of the new Mack Avenue Assembly Complex once Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV invests $1.6 billion to convert the two plants in the future assembly site.

"FCA has dedicated funds toward area schools and eligible homeowners," she wrote in a letter to Greg Rose, FCA's director of environment, health and safety. "The school

funding can be utilized based on the needs as determined by the school, while the

homeowner grants allow for investment in and repair of residences. FCA clarified

these funds could be utilized for building improvements such as roof replacements,

air filtration systems, asbestos abatement, lead abatement, or other potential


Dolehanty added: "FCA committed to vegetative buffers surrounding the manufacturing plant as well as tree planting within the community. A traffic impact study was performed as part of the original design process for the new auto assembly plant. This study provides specific steps for mitigation of additional traffic created as a result of changes at the manufacturing plant as well as a cail-in number for traffic complaints." 

Dolehanty said FCA will also hold annual community meetings to discuss its projects.

The state initially took issue with Fiat Chrysler's plans to monitor air quality for two weeks in each quarter at a single location as well as some of the measurement instruments the company planned to use that did not meet standards.

The state division recommended sampling be done in two locations. Additionally, it requested more information on how the company put together the plan and with whom, its 1,000 tree-planting project and public health education initiatives. The division also wanted an explanation for why air filtration has not been proposed and an investigation for a pilot at one of its buildings at the site.

Fiat Chrysler has said the "landfill-free" facility will represent a 10% reduction in emissions in the region with similar upgrades planned for its assembly plant in Warren. The Mack site is expected to produce a third of the volatile organic compounds that the adjacent Jefferson North Assembly Plant does. Volatile organic compounds become vapor at room temperature.

Fiat Chrysler in November said it had met with residents publicly and privately to develop its environmental plan. The plan also includes controlling runoff water, installing vegetative barriers and other conservation initiatives.

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Twitter: @Keith_Laing

Staff Writer Breana Noble contributed.