Health concerns like cancer and asthma, and discussions about air quality, are important. These are matters that profoundly affect people’s lives, and they must be characterized by facts. Unfortunately, the Detroit Metro Times article, “Struggling to breathe in 48217, Michigan’s most toxic ZIP code” by Steve Neavling contains so many inaccuracies, omissions and misstatements, including several about Marathon Petroleum, that it does much more harm than good.
Marathon Petroleum has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its refinery to reduce emissions, and we have reduced our emissions more than 75% over the last 20 years. We operate more cleanly today than ever before, and we’re proud to be a responsible neighbor in the Southwest Detroit community.
I can tell you that we strive daily to be open, honest and transparent. We talk often about the efforts we have made to lower our emissions because we are proud of what we have accomplished, proud of having been part of Detroit for the last 60 years and proud to be producing motor fuel for the Motor City.
We’ve welcomed members of the community, elected officials and the media to come to our site, ask questions and see for themselves the efforts that we are making daily to not just run our refinery well, but to lower our impact to the community from an air and water perspective. At the same time, we are increasing our impact on the community in a positive fashion by the many, many outreach initiatives that we support. We continue to look for ways to make a bigger impact in the community with a goal of really making a difference in the lives of the children and families who live near the plant. These efforts are actively supported by employees across our operation.
The issues Mr. Neavling raises in his article are serious. They are critical to the quality of life in Southwest Detroit, and they are matters Marathon Petroleum has been engaged with for many years. A journalist who wants to shed light on such serious matters should portray an accurate representation of reality, rather than a skewed narrative that fits his preconceived notions.
The Detroit refinery has been in its current location since 1930, and Marathon Petroleum has owned it since 1959. We don’t claim to be perfect, but the employees of this site and the company work daily to ensure the site is operated in compliance with all requirements. When unexpected events happen, we work to ensure they don’t happen again because we take seriously our commitments to the communities within which we operate, work and live. We’re proud of our record of emissions reductions, and we’re proud of our role in the neighborhood as a supporter of schools, youth activities, and charities that make our community better. We hope that our neighbors won’t be misled by articles like the one published by the Metro Times. We also hope that the Metro Times will provide accurate and balanced reporting in the future and give us an opportunity to respond to our neighbors, who have legitimate, important concerns.