In a recent development, Stellantis is under scrutiny from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) for repeated air quality violations at its Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) in Detroit.
The violations pertain to the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the plant’s paint shop between September 2022 and September 2023. The EGLE reported that the plant exceeded the allowed limit, emitting 5.01 pounds of pollutants per paint job, while the permitted amount was 4.8 pounds.
VOCs are chemicals found in various household products, including paints, and their airborne release can lead to health issues such as eye, nose, and throat irritation. Prolonged exposure may even cause damage to the central nervous system, liver, and kidneys, with some VOCs identified as potential cancer-causing agents.
Stellantis spokesperson Jodi Tinson addressed the issue in a statement with The Detroit News, stating, “Our painting processes and emissions controls were functioning properly, and there was no increased exposure risk to the community.” Tinson emphasized that the above-allowable emissions in 2022 were attributed to reduced production volume and assured that improvements have been made to bring the plant back into compliance.
Inspector Bob Byrnes, speaking during a public hearing about the proposed consent order, explained EGLE’s regulations on VOC emissions. He highlighted that while the Jefferson North plant remained below its facility-wide VOC limit, the per-job basis violation was a concern. Byrnes stated, “If you’re in a low production scenario, we want to make sure that they’re painting efficiently, having low emissions on a per-job basis.” The department aims to ensure efficiency and care in painting operations, even during periods of low production.
EGLE’s proposed fine for Stellantis amounts to $84,420, reflecting the severity of the violations. However, concerns were raised during a public hearing about the lack of community involvement in the penalty. EGLE cannot mandate a company to contribute to a community project through a consent order, leading to criticism from residents who have endured odors and pollution from the assembly plant.
If the proposed consent order is violated, additional fines and emission mitigation plans may be imposed. EGLE emphasizes the importance of Stellantis staying within the specified emission limits and being proactive in addressing any potential violations.
The public has until January 23rd to provide comments on the proposed consent order, highlighting the significance of community engagement in environmental regulatory matters.
The Jefferson North Assembly Plant (which is part of the Stellantis Detroit Assembly Complex, that includes the Mack Avenue Assembly Plant), is responsible for producing two-row Jeep® Grand Cherokee (WL74) and Dodge Durango (WD), employs approximately 4,700 people. The adjacent Mack facility has faced similar violations and fines, prompting the installation of emissions control equipment as part of a previous consent order. Residents near the plants continue to express concerns about odors and fumes affecting their neighborhoods.
Source: The Detroit News