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It wasn’t until they improved their communication strategies that the right people began to pay attention and listen to their calls for political action.In addition to this focus on effective communication, I also heard accounts from the leaders of these organizations of the value of collaboration with others in their community.Delray, annexed by Detroit in 1905, still holds an important historical significance, as many of these families were first established in this neighborhood when they moved north to escape slavery in the South.
Sackey explained to students the effects of refineries like this one on the local population, like higher asthma rates in children.
Residents in Delray believe that pollutants from factories are released at night or whenever air pollution isn’t being monitored, sneaking out their toxic emissions to foil regulators. Steel Great Lakes Works (on Zug Island), Lafarge Cement, the Detroit Salt Company, both DTE’s coal-fired plant and River Rouge Power Plant as well as many others in the area.
What can be done to keep these powerful entities in check?
On whom does responsibility fall to make that happen? Our group proceeded to meet with representatives of environmental groups Zero Waste Detroit, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice and the Detroit chapter of the Sierra Club, and learned how people involved in these organizations are doing the real work at the political level to make tangible changes happen in their cities.
Because of its role as a connector between Canada and the US, I-75 carries an extremely high volume of traffic, which results in exhaust-spewing semi-trucks sitting still up to an hour at a time, right next to residential neighborhoods, without shutting off their engines.
The I-75 expressway runs alongside minority communities in Detroit, straddling the neighborhoods of Delray, isolating residents from the reviving Mexican Town and Hubbard neighborhoods.This has made displacement even more complicated, Sackey explained, as it reduces any chance of proving that people are being harmed by the lack of regulation, leaving those who remain without much of a fight in court. Businesses in Delray rarely comply with environmental regulations and law, Sackey said.Local industries know that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is overworked and isn’t focusing resources on places like Delray, Sackey explained, where it is cheaper for companies to pay fines and legal fees than to implement regulations, and cheaper to dump waste instead of properly disposing of it.Many homes have been left abandoned or burned down.Over 150 structures needing to be boarded up with blight and illegal dumping found on over 170 lots.Once we arrived, we first looked at the Marathon Petroleum oil refinery, which in 2013 saw one of it’s own oil tanks explode, endangering area residents. This residential area is isolated from the rest of the city by industrial refineries and a portion of Interstate-75.The freeway is an incredible source of noise pollution, heat, smelly exhaust fumes and carbon monoxide as daily commuters stall in heavy traffic.Throughout a controversial and lengthy planning phase (which is still ongoing), the location of its main entryway was considered in several locations–an entryway no one wanted in their backyard.Where did the city decide would cause the least uproar? This was just another development in a running series of city-approved projects in and surrounding Delray, leaving a community to wonder if any officials care about their predominantly-black, low-income neighborhoods.This landscape is the outcome of numerous small and large construction projects which have interrupted and displaced communities and businesses, forcing lifelong residents and small business owners to find obtain new housing with little support.Unfortunately, it is difficult to track illnesses related to pollution if people are moving away.