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Detroiters hold their noses over Jeep plant

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Stellantis and the state of Michigan are at odds over a case of new car-plant smell.

The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy last month issued the automaker an air quality violation notice for paint odors of “moderate to strong intensity” emanating from its year-old Jeep Grand Cherokee assembly plant on Detroit’s east side.

Stellantis says it has made some changes to the operation of its paint shop at the Detroit Assembly Complex’s Mack Avenue plant in response.

The automaker told regulators it is keeping access doors to the plant “closed at all times when not in use,” has installed tarps on de-watering boxes in the paint shop’s sludge room “to minimize odors” and has taken other steps to minimize odors from paint sludge.

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“FCA is monitoring the painting process equipment very closely to identify any operating conditions which might cause odors to escape into the general building atmosphere and potentially be discharged through the building ventilation system,” Mack plant manager Michael Brieda wrote in a letter to the state.

Brieda said emission control systems at the $1.6 billion assembly plant “are operating properly and in compliance with the air permit conditions.”

The automaker said it has hired a third-party engineering firm to investigate the origin of the odors in the paint shop that residents who live west of the plant have reported smelling in recent weeks.

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State air quality investigators documented the odors on three separate occasions — Aug. 27, Aug. 31 and Sept. 3 — after fielding complaints about nuisance odors, according to the violation notice.

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