Stellantis hires investigators, to set up hotline after odor violation

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Stellantis NV has hired a third-party engineering firm to investigate the cause of odors that led to the state of Michigan issuing a violation against its new Jeep assembly plant in Detroit.

The transatlantic automaker created earlier this year from the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Groupe PSA on Monday responded to last month's violation in a four-page letter detailing some steps it has taken after the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy received complaints from residents living around the new Mack Assembly Plant about smells coming from the facility.

A production operator, center, checks the Near-line Laser Radar, robots measure hundreds of preprogrammed surface and alignment points, at the Stellantis Mack Assembly Complex in Detroit on Thursday, June 10, 2021.

The investigation by the engineering firm is expected to be completed by Jan. 9 and will be shared with EGLE. In the meantime, the automaker is investigating on its own and setting up a hotline community members can call directly when they have a complaint.

A routine monitoring program "several times a day" has been implemented on the edge of the Mack site to help determine trends and sources of the odors, according to the response from Michael Brieda, Mack's plant manager. The company ordered automatic exterior roll-up doors to keep west-side accesses closed except when in use and has installed a number of new systems and equipment in its paint shop that it hopes will minimize odors and alert operators when conditions aren't optimal.

The company 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 new Grand Cherokee L SUVs in June to dealerships. EGLE observed "moderate or strong" odors coming from plant during three inspections in response to complaints in August and September, according to the violation.

Stellantis on Monday also emailed recipients in the community of its quarterly newsletter about the steps it has taken.

"We want to get this right," Brieda and Greg Rose, the company's director of environment, health and safety, said in the letter. "We are working hard toward a shared vision for a positive future for Detroit and throughout this journey, we will continue to do our best to earn your trust. We are incredibly grateful for this opportunity to build our next 100 years in Detroit."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble