Climate change: ‘Environmental racism’ in Detroit’s ‘most polluted’ neighbourhood | US News
There’s a community in one corner of southwest Detroit that has spent years studying the air they breathe.
District 48217 has come to be known as Michigan’s “Most Polluted Zip Code”.
There are more than two dozen Producing pollutants Multiple company facilities scattered in and around the area.
Steel mills are located alongside coal-fired power plants, automobile factories and one of the largest oil refineries in the country.
This intoxicating mix of industry creates a stew of chemicals and an intense, stinking smog.
The area is criss-crossed by highways and clogged with air emissions.
It is hard to believe how close some houses are to these places, only a highway separates them from billows of smoke.
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In 2020, it became a campaign freeze for Democratic candidates who wanted to promote their environmental plans.
Locals say the pollutants had a significant impact on their health and contributed to a variety of breathing problems, and they believe it is cancer.
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Theresa Landrum, a Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition leader, said, “On my block where I live, not on a city street but on a city block, more than 12 people have died of cancer, and I am the only cancer survivor left alive on the street I grew up on. “
Next to huge towers that emit smoke, there is a playground with no children.
Vicky Dobbins, who grew up in the nearby Rouge River, says they started questioning what was in the air at a young age when they saw a thick covering of what looked like dust on the cars.
She said, “People start asking what’s going on, what’s in the smoke? Then they tell us: S02 (sulfur dioxide), CO2 (carbon dioxide).”
She says she is now convinced “these things kill trees and people”.
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Ms. Landrum says people of color in this largely black area and across the country are on the sharp end of problems.
She said: “African Americans have been taken or forced to live in polluted areas.
“So environmental racism has a lot to do with where we live and where those factories and these industries are.
“If we were white and this would harm our children in our womb, in the womb and we were white, they wouldn’t let it.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) calls this an area inaccessible because of the dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide that can cause asthma.
Marathon Petroleum Corporation, the oil refinery that occupies more than 200 acres, emits 23 Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) as defined in the Clear Air Act.
That law states that HAPs are “those pollutants known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects such as reproductive effects or birth defects or adverse effects on the environment”.
In a statement to Sky News, Marathon Petroleum Corporation said it was “determined to continue our partnership with the community to improve the quality of life here” and already had $ 5 billion (£ 3.59 billion) to buy of homes in the Boynton neighborhood in southwest Detroit to create green space and a buffer zone for residents.
It also said it cut emissions by 80% in 20 years, and according to the Michigan Department for the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, emissions make up a small fraction (less than 3%) of emissions within a two-radius radius Miles out of the facility.
But it’s not about a company.
Ms. Landrum believes the danger lies in the cumulative effect and many residents like her would like more extensive air monitoring on site to assess this.
Air quality monitors have been installed in some areas and obvious improvements have been made, but activists want to see a lot more.
It is debatable whether 48217 still deserves its “most polluted” nickname.
Further testing would not only help solve the problem, but most importantly, it would improve the lives of the people living there.
The history of District 48217 bears the hallmarks of many that renowned environmentalist Erin Brockovich hears about again and again from people across America.
She says aging infrastructures and businesses that can afford to keep paying fines are part of the cycle of problems.
She says people are “attacked by everything you can imagine – food, air, water, land”.
Poor access to clean water, droughts, hurricanes, toxic air and water closures hit communities again and again.
Joe Biden has touted a very ambitious plan to combat climate change and pollution.
However, his challenge will be to balance his big green ideas with creating big jobs.
Many residents of 48217 hope that it can bring about change, but America still has a very long way to go.
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