'Newsweek' air pollution cover story: 'Detroit makes you sick'

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The magazine "Newsweek" is declaring "Detroit makes you sick."

It is a bold cover that has people buzzing; the article compares living in southwest Detroit and its surrounding communities to "sucking on a tailpipe." It is raising a red flag about the dangerous emissions pumped out by the Marathon refinery US Steel and DTE Energy's coal-fired power plant.

Many are asking if this is another Flint and is the state looking the other way as people are being poisoned?

"There's just been a smell that has been in this area for as long as I've been a child," said David Campbell, a River Rouge resident and worker at Great Lakes Steel.

And that smell, has caught the attention of Newsweek magazine's cover. The story's author, Zoe Schlanger, weighed in.

"There is something like 52 sites of heavy industry in a tiny little three-mile area," she said. "In River Rouge, Ecorse, Melvindale and the 48217 area."

Schlanger said the plants are spewing toxic chemicals in vast quantities, making residents sick - and the smell is putrid.

"(There are) dead dogs, waste, all kinds of stuff," said Alonzo Taylor, who lives in River Rouge. "Stuff you wouldn't want to breathe, there."

FOX 2: "How can you live around there?"

"People have nowhere else to go," he said.

Which Newsweek says there is a racial overtone to this pollution problem. They call it "environmental racism."

"You have the garbage incinerators, the power plants, the steel manufacturing plants all clustered, typically, in communities of color," Schlanger said.

Officials at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality say they have been working with power plants to reduce emissions - but those negotiations have become long and difficult.

Brian Corbett, a spokesperson for DTE said that they are working with MDEQ to meet all emissions regulations. 

In fact, DTE  is spending upwards of $60 million to install emission control systems at both of its Downriver plants. But Newsweek still maintains that "Detroit makes you sick."

"It's a nice place to live if you didn't have to breathe the air," Schlanger said.