EGLE hits new Jeep plant in Detroit with odors violation

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

The state of Michigan on Monday filed a violation notice against the new Mack Assembly Plant in Detroit following investigations into nuisance odor complaints about the facility that makes the three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee L.

Stellantis NV has until Oct. 11 to initiate actions necessary to correct the cited violations and submit a written response to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy about the steps it is taking. The company may also object to the violation's legal application.

A 2021 Jeep Grand Cherokee L is hit with high pressure water at the inline water test station at the Stellantis Mack Assembly Complex in Detroit  on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

"Stellantis is currently reviewing the notice it received today from EGLE," the automaker said in a statement. "We take all environmental issues seriously and understand our responsibility to be a good neighbor. We are working with EGLE to identify and resolve any concerns in an affirmative manner."

The company, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, expanded its site on Detroit's east side from a partially idled engine plant to a $1.6 billion assembly plant. It began delivering the SUVs in June to dealerships. The expansion has created anger and concerns from some residents living around the plant, especially in relation to health and environmental impacts on the neighborhood that already had the Jefferson North Assembly Plant next to it.

The Detroit News reported earlier this month that EGLE's Air Quality Division conducted investigations into complaints it received of nuisance odors. On Aug. 27, staff observed "persistent and objectionable paint/solvent odors of moderate intensity (Level 3) impacting residential areas downwind of the facility, according to the notice. Similar odors of moderate or strong (Level 4) intensity also were identified on Aug. 31 and Sept. 3, according to the inspectors.

State rules and the automaker's permit to install emission units state the operating of equipment on the site should not result in the emission of an air contaminant that "causes unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of life and property."

Stellantis has said the new plant is one of its most efficient and sustainable manufacturing operations and that updates to its Warren Assembly Plant are reducing volatile organic compound emissions by 30% in the seven-county region of southeast Michigan that already is above Environmental Protection Agency limits on ozone, a toxic gas created when VOCs combine with the atmosphere. Mack Assembly has the lowest VOC emissions rate of any U.S. assembly plant, according to the company.

Beniteau Street residents like Robert Shobe, 59, whose backyard now backs up to the plant's site and faces the new paint shop, however, say the company isn't living up to its commitments. He was one neighbor who complained to the EGLE.

"It's burning eyes, a cough," Shobe said he feels when he is outside. "My nose burns. It has been bad enough to send me to the bathroom. It's like we're throw-away people. This is a new cancer, asthma, COVID alley. They need to do something to make sure people can live safely."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble