Dte plant on ford property raises pollution concerns in dearborn news pressandguide.com r gas constant

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The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on Tuesday evening held a public information session on the air emissions permit request followed by a public hearing at Edsel Ford High School, less than a mile from the proposed facility location. More than 100 people attended at least part of the session which lasted for three hours. The attendees included many public officials, including U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-12th District), state Rep. Abdullah Hammoud (D-Dearborn), Wayne County Commissioner Gary Woronchak (D-Dearborn), Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. and some Dearborn City Council members.

The new plant would generate less than 100 tons a year of carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides and less than 15 tons per year each of larger and smaller particulate matter, volatile organic compounds and sulfur dioxide, according to the state.

A widely circulated information sheet from an environmental group claims to compare pollution from the new facility to the existing boilers and shows that carbon monoxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide and volatile organic compounds would all increase to several times their current levels. Nitrogen oxides would be reduced.

“What you need to remember about the boilers is they have been in operation, and they have had stack testing to show their emissions are not that high,” Asselin said. “The new project may not emit at that level, so it’s not a perfect comparison.”

For example, the emission projections include 136 startup and shutdown events each year at the new facility, but it is unlikely the plant would reach that maximum, Asselin said. Stopping and starting the equipment can emit additional pollution because it is inefficient.

DTE would be required to do periodic emission testing at the new facility, with the plant running at least 90 percent of capacity, said Jorge Acevedo, regional MDEQ compliance officer. Those reports would be available to the public on the MDEQ website.

Part of the permit approval includes elaborate modeling to project how air quality would be impacted with the new facility, said Tracey McDonald with MDEQ. The models include any other substantial emitters in the area and background pollution based on readings from regional monitoring stations, he said.

Dave Norwood, Dearborn’s sustainability coordinator, said he and the mayor “applauded Ford’s recommitment to Dearborn” and expect the company and its partner DTE would pursue this plant with the utmost concern for neighboring residents and schools.

“To us, this means making concerted efforts to reduce emissions and pollutants to levels that are below existing limits and below those currently proposed,” Norwood said, adding that he hopes the company would perform more frequent monitoring.

Others who spoke lamented the additional pollution in the area especially given that several schools and a hospital are within a mile of the proposed facility. Some people asked that the permit include a requirement that Ford shut down its boilers, while others described the nearby 48217 zip code in south Detroit as one of the most polluted in the country.

Ed McArdle of the Southeast Michigan Sierra Club questioned if air monitors in Allen Park would really pick up pollution in Dearborn and noted the entire area probably will soon be in noncompliance for ozone. Volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides from the new plant are precursors for ozone, he said.