New Detroit Jeep plant hit with 4th air quality violation

Breana Noble
The Detroit News

The state of Michigan has issued a fourth air-quality violation against the new Jeep plant in Detroit for more nuisance odors from the paint used on the Grand Cherokee SUVs produced there.

The Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy last week issued the violation to Stellantis NV after an air-quality inspector observed the "objectionable" odors on March 22, according to the notice. The automaker already has had an independent investigation conducted that found a high frequency of odor concentrations coming from Mack Assembly Plant. It has committed to installing additional controls it hopes will address the problem.

The paint shop at Stellantis NV's Jeep assembly plant on Mack Avenue has been identified as the source of odors affecting nearby residents.

"Stellantis continues to address concerns about our Mack Assembly Plant with urgency," spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said in a statement. "We are implementing the corrective actions submitted to EGLE on Jan. 7 and will continue to work with the agency to resolve this issue in a timely manner.

"A timeline for completion of these activities will depend, in part, on the outcome of discussions with EGLE regarding permitting requirements and deadlines imposed through the enforcement process."

The automaker and government agencies have said air samplings show there aren't immediate health concerns from emissions from the plant. The state air-quality inspector ranked the odor last week at Level 3 of 5, indicating "moderate intensity."

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 until April 14 to respond to the latest violation. It received two others for nuisance odors last fall following complaints from neighbors. Another was related to missing ducting in part of the plant to send paint emissions through equipment that would destroy potentially toxic compounds. Stellantis installed the missing ducting in December and at Warren Truck Assembly Plant, which also was missing the equipment, in February. The EGLE is working with the automaker on an enforceable compliance plan, which will include a fine, according to the department.

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, the first in the city in nearly three decades. It began delivering SUVs in June to dealerships. The adjacent Jefferson North Assembly Plant, which also produces the Grand Cherokee and the Dodge Durango SUV, is down for retooling for the next-generation models.

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble