Angry Southwest Detroit residents vent to City Council about Marathon oil refinery

Neighborhood residents complain about air quality

DETROIT – For years, the Marathon Petroleum Corp.'s refinery's emissions have brought complaints from Detroit neighborhood residents.

The company tried to allay fears Tuesday, but neighbors weren't buying the pitch.

Residents said their location puts them right across the street from the refinery, which leaves them nearly unable to breathe at times.

Tuesday's meeting was supposed to be a full council session, but because of a lack of public notice, it became a town hall meeting instead.

Marathon scientist Honor Sheard tried to set a conciliatory tone by calling neighbors partners and making the case that Marathon contributes only slightly to the area's air quality.

"This chart shows we contribute only 3 percent of the emissions in a two-mile radius," Sheard said. "This is a very heavy, very heavily industrialized area. The actual emissions are available at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality website."

That didn't go over well with Southwest Detroit residents who have complained about air quality for years.

"I am so sick of that little 2 percent pie," resident Emma Lockridge said. "We just smash that and kill it. Marathon is 100 percent of my problem, our problems, and we can't breathe in our houses and we're all sick and we're miserable and it's a horrific situation.

"This is offensive that the community has to go through this. It's offensive Marathon is sitting here, chilling, like this community isn't going through hell on a daily basis."

There was a major flare incident Jan. 30 because of a propane line problem. Detroit's Homeland Security director told the crowd the city wants to improve its response in such situations.

Council members weren't saying much as a result of the meeting, but Council Member Brenda Jones expressed concerns about the problem and said it will certainly be taken up in a future session.

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