Stellantis faces fine, mandates to fix Michigan air-quality violations

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Stellantis NV will be fined and required to institute a compliance plan under escalated enforcement action taken Thursday by the state of Michigan in response to air-quality violations at two Metro Detroit plants.

It's not yet clear how much the fine could be and what steps Stellantis will have to take under the action taken by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy's Air Quality Division. Penalties are determined by length of time the violation occurred and the severity of the emissions, spokeswoman Jill Greenberg said. The Environmental Protection Agency also is assisting with air monitoring.

The enforcement action follows three violations at the new Jeep assembly plant in Detroit and one at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant. Each plant was found not to have pollution control equipment properly installed according to their air permits. The Mack Assembly Plant in Detroit also faced violations for strong paint odors following complaints from residential neighbors.

"Escalating enforcement in a case where pollution control equipment was not installed properly, causing odors and health concerns from the community, is vital," Chris Ethridge, Air Quality Division field operations supervisor, said in a statement. "The requirements in an air permit are necessary to protect the community. If the permit is not followed, companies must be held accountable.”

Stellantis spokeswoman Jodi Tinson says the automaker is working "urgently" to develop and implement a solution for the violations.

"While our plants continue to be in full compliance with the permitted emissions limits, we take full responsibility for remedying the concerns that have been raised as quickly as possible," she said.

Testing of emissions to ensure compliance at both plants is ongoing, according to EGLE.

Residents living along the expanded Jeep plant in Detroit have voiced concerns about the impact of emissions from the plant on the health of those in the neighborhood. In a Title VI complaint filed this week with the EPA, five residents allege environmental racism and discrimination by EGLE for having approved the permit to increase emissions in the majority Black, low-income community that was offset by lowered emissions at the Warren plant, where there are fewer people of color living.

The automaker has said it ordered equipment to install the proper controls at the Mack plant before the end of the year. It also has hired a third-party engineering firm to inspect its operations and provide information on how to reduce odors. The company has said it's conducting its own frequent monitoring for odors and has set up a community hotline for residents to call in an effort to accelerate its response to complaints. Stellantis also has an air monitoring system on the plant's north side, the results of which it provides quarterly to EGLE.

 EGLE's enforcement action will include a compliance plan and could include a supplemental environmental project that the automaker would have to undertake. The public will be able to view and submit comments before the action is finalized.

The results of escalated enforcement can take time. During this time, Stellantis will continue to fix the ductwork needed to control emissions at its plant as well as any other issues with the equipment installation, according to EGLE. Air Quality Division staff will inspect and monitor those updates and respond to complaints.

The EPA's mobile lab also is assisting EGLE with air monitoring in the area around the Detroit Assembly Complex, which includes Mack Assembly and the adjacent Jefferson North Assembly plants. The monitoring was done Tuesday and Wednesday. Results will be provided once they are complete, according to EGLE. Additional air monitoring is planned.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble