By on November 16, 2021

The body of a Jeep® Grand Cherokee L goes through the Phosphate

What’s that smell? According to some residents on Detroit’s east side, it’s the Mack assembly plant. The site of production for Jeep’s new three-row Grand Cherokee L and the recently introduced next-gen, two-row Grand Cherokee is rankling the noses of people who live in the vicinity, with some calling for the state’s enviro cops to hold Stellantis to some measure of accountability.

It’s the latest in a series of escalating actions by residents and their representatives, with a hotline phone number cropping up a couple of weeks ago followed by yesterday’s proposal that included a Stellantis-funded voluntary relocation effort and home repair program.

For its part, the company has received at least two notices about the issue from state environmental regulators, the most recent of which was parked on the desk of plant officials about two weeks ago. Prior to that, regulatory staff noted “persistent and objectionable” paint or solvent odors as part of a violation notice served in September. The more recent citation was related to “volatile organic compound emissions” noted as part of a state inspection.

A possible source of the issue is ducting at Mack’s new paint shop. Specifically, inspectors are said to have found emissions from that part of the plant weren’t being ducted to a regenerative thermal oxidizer, a piece of equipment that destroys potentially harmful chemicals from the air. Stellantis has hired an engineering firm (of its own choosing) to examine the problem, with a report promised within 90 days.

You probably know these “volatile organic compounds” better as VOCs, a term thrust into the American mind by incessant advertisements by vendors of house paint. The lack of these compounds reduces the presence of that freshly painted smell those of us who are a certain age remember with great clarity after walking into a new or renovated home. Problem is, that smell was also knocking us on our butts – which is why Detroiters living near Mack are concerned and upset.

Spox for Stellantis are on record as bleating the new Mack assembly employs thousands of people across three shifts and builds hundreds of machines each day. This contrasts with the former Mack engine plant which was a fraction of the size. We will point out there wouldn’t have been much, if any, painting in progress while manufacturing engines. Company suits then went on to say any increase in emissions at Mack would have been offset by pollution reductions at another Michigan facility, with Warren Truck Assembly being given as an example of the latter. This is surely of little comfort to residents within smelling distance of the Mack.

Residents have been holding protests in the area. There are also a couple of hotline bling options for reporting concerns about this particular problem, including one for Stellantis (833-310-2313) and the state’s pollution line (800-292-4706).

[Image: Stellantis]

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20 Comments on “Michigan Residents Squawk About Stinky Stellantis Plant...”


  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Take two Stellantis and don’t call us in the morning.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    They should be exempt because of the union. /s

    It’s fun when liberals fight with each other.

    • 0 avatar
      Ol Shel

      Sounds more like you’re a lonely guy who only knows how to get attention by spreading misery on the internet. That’s too bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      We just want to pay Union employees a living wage to clean up environmental messes.

      Of course, actually figuring out how to do that, and pay for it, is harder than it sounds. It’s a messy process, and that’s OK.

      I’d love to see Republican solutions to environmental problems, but they usually chose to pretend the problems don’t exist. Republican solutions to the issues faced by our society are something I could be onboard with, just so long as they’re really solutions. The head-in-the-sand stuff has to stop.

  • avatar
    mcs

    They should experience the stench in Detroit’s downriver area back in the day. The Rouge Plant, the Rouge River itself, the Darling Plant, Wyandotte chemical in Trenton, and the giant trash mountain from Toronto in Trenton. I’d take the sweet smell of car paint over that any day.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      “the giant trash mountain from Toronto in Trenton”

      I had forgotten about that landmark…on the east side of I-75, right?

      Been a long time since I cruised up that way.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        If I’m heading north through the Downriver area, I make it a point to hit the “recirc” button and turn the A/C on to prevent the windows from fogging when I hit the Southfield Freeway, and when I-75 crosses over Fort Street going south.

  • avatar
    bullnuke

    I doubt if the problem is coming from that E-coat tank in the picture. Also, most of the coatings these days are low/no VOC materials and likely the vent sweep is not strictly required to be attached to a thermal oxidizer during the application process.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Per square foot, paint shops are some of the most expensive real estate in a plant. And they dont look it. Until all the EPA stuff is added on.

    I m sure this is a design or install issue. FCA isnt trying to get away with anything since EPA and state and local enforcers are looking for scalps on every trip to the site.

    It ll get fixed pronto. Down time at the cost of ~ $60,000 / minute will assure this.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Used to be you could spot the paint shop in an auto plant from the air by looking for the largest concentration of vents. Not anymore.

      I actually used to just love the various smells in an auto plant. Yeah, I’m weird. My favorite was the smell of the burnt metal in the body shop. My favorite place. Sparks flying everywhere. Next was the paint shop. Then there was the tire smell in the area where tires and seats were stocked. I’m not being sarcastic. I really loved those smells.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        Speaking of which:
        https://molekule.science/is-the-new-car-smell-bad-for-you/

        [Dear TTAC – Because I’m unsuccessful, I drive old cars, which have already done a lot of their outgassing. How many years of additional lifespan can I expect?]

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    The Grand Cherokee literally stinks.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Next they’ll wonder how come they moved manufacturing to Mexico.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    New French owners using snail-based paint.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    Considering the history of any company that has owned Jeep; perhaps Stellantis should consider spinning it off? Or partner with Renault and bring out an EV Le Car? Things to ponder.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    Stellantis: bad corporate citizen.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Whiskey bottles and brand new cars, oak tree you’re in my way….

  • avatar
    mcs

    “the giant trash mountain from Toronto in Trenton”

    Yeah, it’s been about ten years since I’ve been there, but when I was there, there was a huge sink coming from it. It might actually be in Riverview. The Riverview Land Preserve. I remember smelling it in Trenton. Apparently, Michigan is North America’s dumpster and smells like one. Like I said, I actually like some industrial smells. Diesel, two-strokes, metalworking shops, and auto paint. I don’t like the methane smells from garbage dumps.

    https://www.mlive.com/news/2020/02/see-which-states-and-country-send-trash-to-michigan-landfills.html

    https://riverviewlandpreserve.com/solid-waste-landfill-facility/

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