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Environmental group says there’s something legally stinky about Detroit’s garbage incinerator

Oct 20, 2016

With thousands of tons of trash burned every day, Detroit has the largest urban incinerator in the country.

Now its long and controversial history has a new chapter. The Great Lakes Environmental Law Center has filed a letter serving notice that it intends to sue Detroit Renewable Power, the operator of the incinerator.

Nick Schroeck, the executive director of the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, joined Stateside to talk about the lawsuit and why they are filing it.

According to Schroeck, this is an environmental justice issue as the community surrounding the incinerator (near the junction of I-94 and I-75), which has a population that is largely people of color who fall below the poverty line. The residents have seen an increase in cases of asthma and the area around the facility just, for lack of a better term, stinks. 

"This facility is importing trash from other counties but the local community is being burdened with this air pollution and with the odor violations from the facility," said Schroeck. 

In response, Detroit Renewable Power made the following statement:

"The Notice of Intent filed yesterday merely repeats allegations that have already been made. The facts are these; Detroit Renewable Energy is a vital partner in the City’s ongoing renaissance, employing nearly 300 residents and helping our business customers prosper. DRP operates a sophisticated waste to energy facility and places the highest priority on complying with the strict and complex requirements established by the US EPA and the MDEQ. To that end, we have invested approximately $6 million in just the last few years to improve odor management at the facility. In short, we have done our part. Any claim to the contrary would simply be false.”

Listen to the full interview above to hear about the variety of violations that the incinerator has and what the environmental challenges are and what's next for this lawsuit.

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