Marathon refinery to spend $5M to buy out homes in southwest Detroit


As Emma Lockridge looks out the back window of her home in her southwestern Detroit neighborhood, she sees Interstate 75’s six-lane, 18-wheel vehicle shaking her house as they drive past the Marathon Petroleum Co. and right behind it . Refinery.

Lockridge has had poor air quality on Patricia Street in the Boynton neighborhood for years.

That could change now, as Marathon announced on Thursday that it was spending $ 5 million on house purchases and evacuation to create a two-block buffer between the refinery and residential areas.

Lockridge says she can leave her industrial district and move to a less populated area.

“This is important because … we have something called a cumulative impact out here,” said Lockridge, an environmental activist. “Unfortunately, due to the high concentration of facilities, Detroit 48217 has come to be known as the most polluted zip code in the state of Michigan. So not only do you have an emission from the refinery, but you also have a sum of it (facilities) kind of mix-up.”

Marathon plans to create green spaces as a buffer between the residential areas and the refinery. Plans call for Marathon to meet long-standing requests from many of the refinery’s neighbors for the company to purchase so homeowners can move.

The community is surrounded by heavy industry and is west of the Detroit water and sewage treatment plant, about three miles from Zug Island and separated from Mill Steel Co. by a highway.

University of Michigan researchers have tagged 48217, including the area around the plant, the most polluted in the state.

“This initiative is solely about creating green spaces and improving the neighborhood. There are no plans to expand the refinery,” said David Leaver, general manager of the refinery.

Homeowners and tenants of Edsel and Patricia are eligible to participate in the buyout. Residents must register for the initiative between February 1 and June 1 and can unsubscribe at any time.

Reviews and offers start in March. Leaver says the homes are being offered a base price of $ 70,000 plus half of the estimated value plus compensation for moving and legal fees.

Including 40 abandoned Detroit Land Bank homes, Leaver hopes to buy and demolish 80 homes in the community. There are 3,040 homes in the area, according to Detroit’s neighborhood website.

“This initiative will usher in a new generation of activity, stabilizing the communities we love, changing attitudes, and a great example of public-private partnership.” said 6th State House District Rep. Tyrone Carter, D-Detroit.

In February, U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, D-Detroit, and other elected officials asked federal environmental regulators to conduct a formal investigation into a chemical release at the September 2019 marathon that raised health concerns in the community.

The investigation resulted in the Department of the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy ordering Marathon to pay $ 82,000 in fines to the state’s general fund and invest hundreds of thousands of dollars more in community protection, including a $ 363,853 -Deals in which the company installed an air filtration system at the Mark Twain School for Scholars in southwest Detroit.

Lockridge said she has been campaigning for a better quality of life in her neighborhood for eight years. In April 2018, Lockridge and some of their neighbors attended a marathon general meeting in Ohio and requested a meeting with the chairman.

“This has evolved into what it should be like when a company is in a community. We should have these types of relationships and I am very proud to say that we have developed a relationship with Marathon Petroleum in the future.” said Lockridge.

Marathon, who bought the refinery in 1959, offered a similar buyout program in 2012 when the expansion brought the fence line closer to Oakwood Heights and turned the neighborhood into a residential island surrounded by industry and the Rouge River. Of 294 properties identified in the 2012 program, 266 owners participated, the Detroit News reported.


Dusty Kennedy