'Not safe to live here': US Ecology South hazardous waste plant concerns residents

US Ecology Detroit South on Frederick Street is a hazardous waste storage and treatment site in Detroit.  Some community members feel the fumes they breathe every day could be noxious.

"It has affected my children significantly," said longtime resident Pamela McGhee. "Two of my children have asthma really bad."

The Michigan Department of Environment Great Lakes and Energy provides the operational permit for the site.

The people who live there, want to be involved in that renewal process -- to ensure the site is safe.

"We would like to have a host community agreement," said KT Andresky, Breathe Free Detroit. "So that they meet regularly with the community here so we can address some of the issues. The odors, the dust, what they’re taking into this facility - it’s not healthy to live here."

Andresky, also a member of the neighborhood association, mentioned a host community agreement. It is something that State Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck) says the community has had when permits have been considered in the past.  

"We believe that the best way to have the conversation with US Ecology South, is to have a legally binding community agreement, and that can only be done through the host community agreement that the Detroit City Council will have to initiate."

To get the ball rolling, activists and community members are spreading a petition. For them the stakes are high.

"They pull the dust out of the facility into our neighborhood, causing a lot of particulate matter to rise up and we're breathing it in," Andresky said. "The smell - if you can smell it right now - it's awful. I worry about my unborn child, I worry about the kids living in the neighborhood."

"This should be treated as an emergency management situation - because it is a life and death matter," said Rev. Sharon Buttry, Detroit Hamtramck Coalition for Advancing Healthy Environments.  

EGLE said it has issued 35 violation notices against US Ecology South.

In a statement EGLE says they take all complaints seriously, including those involving odors.

They go on to say "We have issued multiple Violation Notices to US Ecology South, and continue to work with them on modifications to an odor management plan required by a 2020 Consent Order. We understand these odors are intrusive and remain mindful of community concerns as we hold US Ecology accountable."

US Ecology wrote FOX 2 as well, saying in part "We respect and listen to any community concerns about site operations. We've been actively engaged in community meetings for years and remain committed to continued participation."