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Permit Revision Would Allow Severstal Dearborn to Release More Pollutants

The permit revision isn't really an increase, officials with the Russian steelmaker and the DEQ, but a reflection of what's already occurring in one of Michigan's most polluted areas.

Severstal Dearborn would be allowed to emit toxins hundreds of times more than the amount allowed on its current permit in a request before the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. (Patch file photo)
Severstal Dearborn would be allowed to emit toxins hundreds of times more than the amount allowed on its current permit in a request before the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. (Patch file photo)

A Dearborn steel plant that is considered one of the most notorious polluters in the Detroit metro area would be allowed to release hundreds of times more toxins under a permit revision proposed by Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality.

Severstal Dearborn, one of the largest steel manufacturers in the United States, would be allowed to release 725 times ore lead into the air from one portion of the plant under proposed changes to a 2006 emissions permit, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Releases of metal manganese hundreds of times the amount currently allowed are also part of the request. Carbon monoxide emissions would more than double, organic compound releases would see a sharp rise, and fine particulate matter dust would also increase.

Officials with the steelmaker and the DEQ said the proposed changes in the permit merely align the emissions occurring at the plant with the amount allowed in the permit, granted in 2006.

That permit was based on data that was “limited, incomplete and, as the current emissions test data have revealed, not as representative of Severstal’s operations as anticipated,” the DEQ stated in public documents seeking the revision.

>>>Read what's proposed.

One  resident who lives in the area of the plant told the Free Press she’s resigned to pollution being a fact of life in one of the state’s most polluted areas (the 48217 ZIP code, according to the toxicity score from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).

“They’re going to do what they want to do,” said Jaye Rodriguez. “They don’t care about how we feel.”

“The fallout here is every day,” added Patricia Guziak, who lives less than a mile from the steel plant and several other factories.

“It has ruined the paint on my car. In the summertime, I’m sweeping up black dust every day. Dust is dust, but this is ot normal,” she said. “And the stink – you’ll get smells so bad you can’t sit on the porch.”

She and others who oppose the permit revision have until March 19 to make a comment.

Comment online, or send written comments to  Mary Ann Dolehanty, Permit Section Supervisor, MDEQ Air Quality Division, P.O. Box 30260, Lansing 48909-7760.  

An informational hearing will be held March 19 in Rooms 122 and 126 at Henry Henry Ford Community College, M-TEC, 3601 Schaefer Road, Dearborn. The informational session will begin at 6 p.m., at which time DEQ Air Quality Division staff will provide a brief introduction regarding the proposed project and will answer questions. The public hearing will begin at 7 p.m.

The Russian steelmaker was named the Dearborn Chamber of Commerce’s 2013 Business of the Year last May. The Russian steel manufacturer purchased the Rouge Steel Co. in January 2004 and the company, near extinction a decade ago, has invested more than $3 billion – $1.7 billion of it in Dearborn – to modernize its facilities in Dearborn and Columbus, MS.

DISCUSS: What, if anything, do you think should be done to improve air quality in and around Dearborn? Tell us below in the comments.
Lee Jacobsen March 11, 2014 at 06:55 PM
The article is impossible to comment on as it does not state facts regarding the toxic levels allowed, and what is proposed. Are the levels allowed within reason? China has levels thousands of times higher, higher than what? If we restrict all of our manufacturing plants, soon we will be buying everything from China, which does not have meaningful restrictions on pollutants. With no manufacturing, that means no jobs, but also no pollution. Which is the better choice, buy from China and let their folk die from pollution, or do our best to keep the air clean, no one dies, but we keep our jobs, and perhaps have to sweep the porch more often. Hate pollution? Move to the country, next to a pig farm.....

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