What’s that smell? According to some residents on Detroit’s east side, it’s the Mack assembly plant. The site of production for Jeep’s new three-row Grand Cherokee L and the recently introduced next-gen, two-row Grand Cherokee is rankling the noses of people who live in the vicinity, with some calling for the state’s enviro cops to hold Stellantis to some measure of accountability.
It’s the latest in a series of escalating actions by residents and their representatives, with a hotline phone number cropping up a couple of weeks ago followed by yesterday’s proposal that included a Stellantis-funded voluntary relocation effort and home repair program.
For its part, the company has received at least two notices about the issue from state environmental regulators, the most recent of which was parked on the desk of plant officials about two weeks ago. Prior to that, regulatory staff noted “persistent and objectionable” paint or solvent odors as part of a violation notice served in September. The more recent citation was related to “volatile organic compound emissions” noted as part of a state inspection.
A possible source of the issue is ducting at Mack’s new paint shop. Specifically, inspectors are said to have found emissions from that part of the plant weren’t being ducted to a regenerative thermal oxidizer, a piece of equipment that destroys potentially harmful chemicals from the air. Stellantis has hired an engineering firm (of its own choosing) to examine the problem, with a report promised within 90 days.
You probably know these “volatile organic compounds” better as VOCs, a term thrust into the American mind by incessant advertisements by vendors of house paint. The lack of these compounds reduces the presence of that freshly painted smell those of us who are a certain age remember with great clarity after walking into a new or renovated home. Problem is, that smell was also knocking us on our butts – which is why Detroiters living near Mack are concerned and upset.
Spox for Stellantis are on record as bleating the new Mack assembly employs thousands of people across three shifts and builds hundreds of machines each day. This contrasts with the former Mack engine plant which was a fraction of the size. We will point out there wouldn’t have been much, if any, painting in progress while manufacturing engines. Company suits then went on to say any increase in emissions at Mack would have been offset by pollution reductions at another Michigan facility, with Warren Truck Assembly being given as an example of the latter. This is surely of little comfort to residents within smelling distance of the Mack.
Residents have been holding protests in the area. There are also a couple of hotline bling options for reporting concerns about this particular problem, including one for Stellantis (833-310-2313) and the state’s pollution line (800-292-4706).
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