SW Detroit sounds off on Marathon emissions increase

- Residents living near the Marathon refinery got to voice their concerns over the refinery's request to release more emissions into the air. But some who live in southwest Detroit say they've suffered enough and they can't take more.

Marathon's permit application to put more emissions into the air has already received a thumbs-up but before it gets a green light from the Department of Environmental Quality, the public got a chance to chime in.

"Really environmentally, this is just a travesty," said Eric Pate, chief of staff for Sen. Bert Johnson.

People living near the Marathon refinery in southwest Detroit gave Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials an earful.

"You're killing us, you're killing us," said resident Emma Lockridge.

More than 500 people packed the River Rouge High School auditorium for a public hearing.

Marathon wants to make cleaner fuel as required by the Environmental Protection Agency. But doing so will send more nitrogen, carbon monoxide and sulfuric acid into the air.

MDEQ will decide if that's okay.

"It seems over the years Marathon has been given a pass," said Theresa Landrum. "Whenever they come for a permit to install it is always granted."

Wednesday night they said no more.

"I invite you to come here and just live in this area two weeks, 24 hours a day," said resident Johnny Haynes, "To hear the noise and see what's going on."

"It's unfair for this refinery to try and put the cost of lowering emission standards overall on the people of the city who have already suffered disproportionate consequences of that pollution," said Dr. Abdul El Sayad, the executive director of Detroit's Health Department.

Sayad says the 48217 zip code, home of the Marathon refinery, is the most polluted in Michigan and asthma rates in Detroit are 50 percent higher than the rest of the state.

"The chief polluter in this city is the Marathon refinery," he said. "So now when that chief polluter in the most polluted zip code in the state of Michigan, says that we want to increase pollution rather than decrease pollution, one has to ask what are the consequences for public health and is this a good for the city of Detroit? It's absolutely not."

But Lynn Fiedler the air quality division chief for MDEQ says Marathon's proposal is safe.

"What they're proposing to do is increase the sulfur dioxide 22 tons per year of actual emissions," she said.

FOX 2: "That sounds like a lot."

"It is a lot," Fiedler said. "Twenty-two tons, but they are permitted to do about 400 tons."

Fiedler says Marathon's application to increase emissions is still under review and concerns brought up here are not taken lightly.

FOX 2: "How much more important is it that you do your due diligence in light of what's happening in Flint?"

"Due diligence is always important no matter what," Fiedler said. "And that's something we've been very aware of, with the air quality division and DEQ and we've been doing that throughout."

If you live near the refinery you have until Jan. 29 to share your thoughts on the emissions hike. The MDEQ plans on holding another informational meeting this month and could have a decision on Marathon's proposal by early February.

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