Detroit incinerator stinks up local neighborhood – ZWD calls for action


News from Zero Waste Detroit

June 9, 2014

Contact: Ahmina Maxey, 313-986-2990,


What’s that Smell? 

Detroit incinerator stinks up local neighborhood – coalition calls for action

DETROIT, MI – Zero Waste Detroit thanks the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) for their continued diligence regarding foul odors coming from the Detroit Renewable Power waste incinerator at 5700 Russell in Detroit, and asks that the company take immediate action.

Since Detroit Renewable Power (DRP) took ownership in 2010, complaints of foul odor coming from the incinerator have increased. As a result DRP has received 12 notices of violation from MDEQ, and the company has been sent to MDEQ’s Enforcement Unit. In the fall of 2013 MDEQ officials told community residents that it was their goal to finalize a consent judgment with the incinerator company before the warm months of 2014. Summer is the time when the odor is its worst.

DRP, however, has been dragging their feet and no consent judgment has been finalized with MDEQ. Now that things have warmed up the community living near the incinerator is facing the same odor problem this year. In May alone DRP received three odor violations from the State, and as of this weekend when odors were especially egregious, they will be receiving their fourth violation. This will bring their total to 13 violations in the last four years.

“I live in the area with my family and the smell is awful! We could barely have our windows open this weekend the smell was so bad,” said Rhonda Anderson of the Sierra Club.

While delaying negotiations with MDEQ to finalize a consent judgment which holds the company accountable, DRP has been holding public meetings informing residents that they will install million dollar technology to fix the odor. However there is nothing to hold the company to their word – only a consent judgment can do that – and since they have no problem allowing an odor problem to persist for over 4 years the community does not have much faith in their word.

“We demand that the company put as much time and energy into finalizing the agreement with MDEQ as they invest into public relations. They should stop stalling the process and agree to a final consent judgment,” said Ife Kilimanjaro of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council.

In addition to being an odor problem, the incinerator is one of the largest polluters in Wayne County and contributes to Detroit’s high asthma rates. It is the largest such facility in the country, and has a negative impact on the health, environment and quality of life of Detroiters. The Zero Waste Detroit Coalition would not wish the reality of living near a polluting incinerator on anyone in Michigan. However, there is an attempt in the Michigan legislature via House Bill 5205 to allow the burning of waste – at facilities like the incinerator – to be deemed a form of renewable energy.

“The reality we face here in Detroit because of the pollution and odors caused by the incinerator could become a reality for many if this bill passes. The burning of waste in our city has been anything but renewable, and we are strongly against House Bill 5205,” said Sandra Turner-Handy of the Michigan Environmental Council.

Zero Waste Detroit demands Detroit Renewable Power Waste Incinerator no longer stall negotiations with the state, and we also urge our state legislators to oppose House Bill 5205 for the sake of the health and well-being of Detroit and Michigan’s residents.

Zero Waste Detroit is a coalition of community and environmental groups: Coalition for Community Change, Detroit Audubon Society, Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Ecology Center, Feedom Freedom, Great Lakes Bioneers Detroit, Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, Green Door Initiative, Greenacres Woodward Civic Association, Institute for Local Self Reliance, Lemieux Consulting & Bright Recycling Services, Michigan Environmental Council, Rosedale Recycles, Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program, Sierra Club Southeast Michigan Group, Southwest Detroit Environmental Vision, Sugar Law Center for Economic and Social Justice, Voices for Earth Justice, We Want Green, Too!, 48217 Community & Environmental Health Organization (