Rally for accountability after oil vapor leak at Marathon plant

A group of neighbors and environmental activists gathered to rally Friday morning for accountability after an evacuation at the Marathon Petroleum plant on the city's southwest side. 

Two contract workers were taken to the hospital Thursday after the plant began discharging what is been described by some as a cloud of oil vapor. 

The plant is near Fort Street and Oakwood. The cloud of vapor forced nearby ramps to I-75 to be temporarily shut down. 

"When we saw those people coming out of those buildings and out of the fences, that let us know their people are being put out of danger. What about the people in the community? We're still put in danger," Theresa Landrum told us, who lives nearby. 

The Department of Homeland Security says there is no danger to the public, but many community members don't believe that. They are concerned and they want something done. They say this is the second time something like this has happened and it needs to stop. 

"We need fines; we need the state to evaluate the health impact of these release events; we need community members to be protected. So it's not just answers, we need accountability," Justin Owenu with the Sierra Club said. 

They say this is the second time something like this has happened and it needs to stop. Back in February, a leak filled the air with a foul-smelling smoke that could be smelled as far away as Warren. Marathon said the odor was related to a flare that needed to be repaired. 

A spokesperson at Marathon Petroleum says they welcome ongoing discussions about air quality in the community. 

"We regret the unintentional release of vapor that occurred yesterday and apologize for any inconveniences this may have caused in the local community. Air quality monitoring immediately after the release confirms no breach of safe emission levels," the statement continued in part.

"Marathon holds the safety and health of our employees, contractors and neighbors as our highest priority. When the incident occurred, Marathon immediately deployed mobile air monitoring resources in addition to permanent fixed monitors located around our site and in the community. Those devices showed there were no breaches of air quality safety levels in the community. We continued to utilize our mobile monitors for several hours after the event received an all-clear, to further ensure that no impacts to air quality had occurred.

Throughout the incident Marathon Petroleum refinery personnel worked with nearly a dozen local, state and federal officials at multiple government agencies.

We have undertaken a thorough investigation of this incident, with local resources supported by corporate experts, to understand and address any necessary operational and safety changes. Our record for improving the air quality of this neighborhood is unequaled, having invested more than $350 million since 2014 alone in enhancements to our Detroit Refinery. By doing so, we have reduced emissions from the refinery by 80 percent over the past decade. These investments have improved the air quality in southwest Detroit for all.

Marathon Petroleum welcomes open and transparent engagement with our neighbors and all Southwest Detroit stakeholders. We are ready to listen and answer any questions about this incident and our extensive safety protocols."