Stellantis completes installation of missing ducting at new Jeep plant

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

Paint emissions from the new Jeep plant in Detroit that drew complaints from residents are now being ducted through required controls, the plant manager said this week in a letter to the state of Michigan.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in October filed a violation against the Stellantis NV plant on the city's east side after an inspection found it was missing the ducting required by its air-quality permit. The equipment, whose installation was completed on Sunday, sends the emissions through a regenerative thermal oxidizer control that helps to destroy potentially harmful pollutants.

Stellantis NV had installed ducting required by its air-quality permit to send paint emissions through a regenerative thermal oxidizer control to destroy potentially harmful pollutants.

The automaker previously said it would install the equipment at the Mack Assembly Plant, which makes the two- and three-row Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs, before the end of the year. Stellantis also found the equipment was missing at its Warren Truck Assembly Plant, which builds the Ram Classic pickup trucks and Wagoneer SUVs, and expects to have the installation there completed by February.

"Stellantis has said that we are taking full responsibility for addressing the concerns that have been raised about our Mack Assembly Plant," spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement. "On Dec. 21, we sent a letter to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) confirming that we have completed the work — two weeks ahead of schedule — to route ducting in the paint shop at Mack to the emission control system as is required by the permit."

The violation was the second against the automaker following multiple complaints from residents neighboring the plant who said they could smell paint and metallic odors on their properties and are pursuing a discrimination complaint with the Environmental Protection Agency. The EGLE in November escalated its enforcement action, saying it will fine the company an as-of-yet not-reported amount and has instituted a compliance plan.

The department is expected to hold a community meeting to provide an update on its investigation next month. Along with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, it will continue to investigate odors and evaluate air sampling results, according to an update on its website.

Stellantis has hired a third-party engineering firm to investigate the source of odors at Mack and plans to share the results of that by Jan. 9. Based on data collected from an air-monitoring station on the north end of the property as well as testing conducted by the EPA that was presented during a city of Detroit community benefits meeting last week, "the air around the community is safe," Tinson added.

Robert Shobe, 59, has been an outspoken critic of Stellantis and its community relations. His backyard faces the Mack plant's new paint shop. He said he hasn't noticed any smells over the past few days, though the wind wasn't blowing in the direction of his home on Wednesday. He's awaiting more data being collected by the state.

"It’s great that they did fix it. It doesn’t change what has transpired" since the plant launched production and began delivering vehicles six months ago, he said. "I have no faith and trust in the Chrysler corporation. I don’t trust them with my health and safety."

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble