Truck traffic pollution in Detroit sparks concerns from residents, air quality groups

A town hall held by Eastside Climate Action Coalition saw a full house on Wednesday, as Detroiters gathered to talk about trucking and air pollution in their area.

"They drive really fast, and they drive down residential streets – which both is an air quality issue, but it’s also a safety issue," said Erin Stanley, a member of the Eastside Climate Action Coalition.

The town hall discussed the steady flow of trucks from auto plants on Detroit’s east side.

"We have the highest rates of asthma hospitalizations in the state in this zip code," Stanley said.

The City of Detroit does not have the same kind of restrictive trucking ordinances that other big cities have.

Long time Detroiter Loretta Powell lives three minutes away from the Stellantis Jefferson North Assembly Plant. She took part in an air quality control test, conducted by the Eastside Climate Action Coalition. 

For months, Powell said, the air quality tested moderate to poor. 

"I'm very concerned for myself (and) the community because I’m a community leader. I’m very concerned about what’s going on in our neighborhood, and also the people who have been living here for so long, around the plants."

Groups like Just Air spoke of the technology they’re using to take on the issue of air quality control and motivate stakeholders to activate change.

"We set up cameras to actually look at truck traffic autonomously. So that can help enforce idling – how much trucks are going down a certain route. But also, because we have the monitoring, we can connect the pollution data with the time of the truck passing by the camera," said Darren Riley with Just Air. 

Fox 2 has previously covered air quality issues in and around the Jefferson North plant. Many have complained about the fumes and air pollution concerns.


Complaint against Stellantis plant says its pollution violates Civil Rights of Detroit residents

"I don’t think it would be done anywhere else other than a low-income community full of Black people," said Robert Shobe. "I’m just going to say it flat-out."

A pollution complaint filed in 2021 was validated in March of this year, when the automaker was ordered by state regulators to pay almost $85,000 in fines for air quality violations in its paint shop. 

Stellantis responded to the latest violation, saying in part, "both plants have been in compliance with their respective permits for more than six months. Further, ambient air monitoring data continues to demonstrate that the air in the neighborhood is consistent with other areas of the city and is well within the applicable U.S. EPA National Ambient Air Quality Standards."

In the meantime, the Detroit City Council members in attendance at the town hall on Wednesday said they are actively drafting new trucking ordinances to be voted on.

The headline of this story has been updated to better reflect the content of the article.