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Action opportunity: Speak out for clean air in Detroit

Incinerator

MEC and our partners at Zero Waste Detroit urge southeast Michigan residents to attend an important public meeting Wednesday night and call on state environmental regulators to get tough on one of the city’s worst polluters.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality will host an information session and public hearing beginning at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, March 8, at the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Hall of Nations, 111 East Kirby Street in Detroit.

Since January 2015, the Department of Environmental Quality has cited Detroit Renewable Power 19 times for violating emissions limits on carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter at the trash incinerator it owns and operates in Midtown.

However, a draft consent order between DEQ and DRP only penalizes the company for six of those violations, for a total of just $149,000.

By contrast, the health impacts of pollution from the incinerator total $2.6 million each year, according to Community Action to Promote Healthy Environments, a community-based research partnership housed in the University of Michigan School of Public Health.

In a letter to the department, MEC, ZWD and several other environmental justice and health groups call the incinerator’s history of illegal emissions “a clear environmental justice issue.” The letter notes that 87 percent of Detroiters living within a mile of the facility are people of color and 60 percent live below the federal poverty line. The community has a high rate of asthma and other respiratory illnesses that are triggered by pollution like that coming from the facility’s smokestack.

Adding to the injustice, about 65 percent of the waste burned in the facility is trucked in from Oakland County—the state’s wealthiest county—with just 25 percent coming from Wayne County.

If you plan to attend the meeting and have questions about this issue, please contact Zero Waste Detroit Convener Margaret Weber at (313) 938-1133. Thank you!

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