Detroit residents, environmental, health organizations unite to defeat tarsands waste

Note: OKT continues to support EJ activists in Detroit because what impacts eastern Michigan impacts West Michigan — and their efforts shine as great examples of what we can do here.

unnamed (2)EJ win at Detroit City Council

A report from Michelle Martinez

It’s not often that we have a victory in EJ. But thanks to all the amazing work from community members, and a historic coming together of all the communities of SW Detroit, we won an epic 4-year battle. We won historic protections for human and environmental protection against PET COKE and other toxic bulk materials! From Alberta Canada to Detroit Michigan we are saying no to more toxic industry dumping their waste on the land, in the water and poisoning our communities right to breathe.

So many people from 48217 to 48216, and all in between, and across the pond stood up for their rights to breathe. Just some of the community members were Dr. Leonard, Theresa Landrum, Vincent Martin, Gloria Rivera, Simone Sagovac, Deb Sumner, Tom Dombrowski, Eric Campbell, Michael Koehler, Rashida Tlaib, Rhonda Anderson, Naim Edwards, Marcia Lee, Maggie and baby Fiona of SDEV, Sierra Club, DWEJ, EMEAC, MEC, Detroit Audubon Society, Windsor on Watch and Council of Canadians, and so many more who were pushing behind the scenes and from home writing, watching council and getting the word out on/in (social) media.

unnamed (3)Nick Leonard from Great Lakes Environmental Law Center did SO much work to make sure Council members had all the science and technical information! A BIG shout out to him for a job well done. Thanks too for Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition facilitating all the work, in partnership with WSU Transnational Environmental Law Clinic.

What did we win with the PET COKE fight?! The passage of a bulk storage ordinance:

  • Any facility in the City of Detroit that stores or handles pet coke, met coke, nut coke, coke breeze or coal must only store or handle it in a completely enclosed structure with an impervious floor, four walls, and a roof.
  • Any facility that stores or handles other types of general aggregates, such as limestone and steel slag, must submit a fugitive dust plan to the City of Detroit for review. The dust plan must be adequate to protect the public health and environment and to prevent the emission of fugitive dust that causes an unreasonable interference with the comfortable enjoyment of property. The dust plan must also specify what measures facilities will take to control dust emission during high wind conditions.
  • unnamed (2)Facilities that are currently regulated by the state must describe the control measures, devices, and technologies to be used to minimize and control fugitive dust at the facility, must describe how all control measures, devices, and technologies will be maintained and calibrated to ensure their continued effectiveness, and must describe the training provided to staff regarding the proper application and operation of the control measures, devices, and technologies.
  • Facilities that are unregulated by the state must install specified dust control measures for all open storage piles, conveyors and transfer points, truck, railcar, and ship loading and unloading, roadways both within the facility and within 1/4 mile of the facility, and outgoing trucks. Unregulated facilities must also install continuous particulate matter monitors capable of detecting spikes in particulate matter emissions. If there is a spike in particulate matter emissions, the facility must report it to the City and must take immediate action to limit emissions.
  • Any outdoor storage pile must be screened from the view of adjacent roadways and properties.
  • In connection with the ordinance, BSEED also agreed to partner with the Health Department, local universities, and state and federal regulatory agencies to study ambient air quality in residential communities that are nearby bulk material facilities. Additionally, BSEED will recommend that expenditures for an Air Quality Specialist staff member and acquisition of air quality monitoring technology take place in the 2018-2019 fiscal budget.

HASTA LA VICTORIA!!!!

Want to read more? Check out Katrease Stafford’s piece in the Detroit Free Press. Or listen to Nick Leonard and me on Stephen Henderson’s Detroit Today.

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