Marathon apologizes for refinery fumes, gets grilled by city council

Image 1 of 3

After a strong smell hit neighborhoods around the Marathon refinery in southwest Detroit for miles, the company has apologized. 

"We sincerely apologize to the community for the odor and the inconvenience this caused," said Honor Sheard, Marathon.

Marathon execs and local officials fielded questions Tuesday from the Detroit City Council. The company says the odor was caused by a non-functioning flare.

Refinery working to clear 'terrible' odor, neighbors angry they smell it on daily basis

"One of our top priorities is to determine how this incident happened we believe it was linked to the extremely cold temperatures," said Sheard.

Marathon and MDEQ says no harmful chemicals were detected, and residents were not at risk - but protestors Monday said otherwise. 

Residents started reporting nausea and headaches from the smell, but the Wayne County Health Department and council wasn't notified until 24 hours after the malfunction.  

Council is concerned about how long it took for notifications to go out.  

"Detroit needs to be notified almost as soon as something happened so we are aware of what's going on," said Brenda Jones, Detroit City Council president.

Jones says this latest incident highlights the confusion surrounding a possible evacuation in the future. 

"What is the evacuation plan? Who knows what the evacuation plan is?" Jones said.

Hilton Kincaid with Homeland Security says there is a specific evacuation plan in place. 

"We are still willing to come out and show any part of the community to come out and show the evacuation plan and to explain why we do it the way we do," said Kincaid, deputy director Detroit office.

Jones says Marathon needs a better notification plan all around and for residents that speak Spanish or Arabic…or who might not have technology to receive texts and emails. 

Maybe this was a test route so that we can get it better for the next time," Jones said.

They will meet again next month to discuss progress on a future plan of action.