Stellantis says it will fix ducting violation at new Jeep plant by year's end

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Stellantis NV will install new ducting and equipment before the end of the year to address a state of Michigan violation at its new Jeep plant in Detroit, according to the plant's manager.

Inspectors with the Air Quality Division of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy last month observed paint emissions from a part of the Mack Assembly Plant's new paint shop were not being ducted to a regenerative thermal oxidizer to limit their release into their air. The pollution control is a requirement in the permit for the plant producing the three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV and soon, the next-generation two-row Grand Cherokee.

Bodies of the Jeep Grand Cherokee L enter the paint shop at Stellantis NV’s Detroit Assembly Complex-Mack plant, where they get their finishes. The state of Michigan has hit the plant with three air-quality violations.

The current ducting is connected to an exhaust stack, Michael Brieda, Mack's plant manager, wrote in a letter response to EGLE. That ducting will be disconnected and connected to new ducting that will direct emissions of volatile organic compounds to a concentrator and then to the oxidizer — the configuration indicated by the company's permit. Volatile organic compounds can become the toxic gas ozone when they are released into the atmosphere.

The correction requires new electrical, equipment and controllers, Brieda wrote. Work will begin later this month. Testing on the system's ability to capture emissions also will occur following its installation.

"Although the plant is operating within its permitted emission limits, correcting this condition is our top priority," Brieda wrote. "We have already begun engineering and procurement of critical long lead equipment necessary to operate the system."

The Mack plant, which began delivering vehicles to dealerships in June, has received three air-quality violations since late September. The two other violations have to do with the quality of life for neighbors who have complained about paint odors from the plant. Residents on Beniteau Street, some of whose backyards now look upon the plant, have petitioned and protested the company to do more to address the health concerns they have living behind the plant.

The company has hired an outside engineering firm to help it to identify ways to mitigate the odors further and set up a community hotline to help address odor complaints. It sent a letter to recipients in the community of its quarterly newsletter about how it is responding to the violation.

The Warren Truck Assembly Plant also has a similar ducting problem as the Mack plant. EGLE issued a violation at the Wagoneer, Grand Wagoneer and Ram Classic truck plant after the company notified it of the problem, according to Stellantis.

The violations come after Stellantis, the merger of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French automaker Groupe PSA, made major updates to both facilities. A $1.6 billion investment expanded two engine plants on Detroit's east side to create the new Mack Assembly Plant. Warren received a $1.5 billion update.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble