Dearborn steel plant wants to revise emissions permit

Area residents concerned

(WXYZ)-Dearborn - Severstal is a leading steel manufacturing company and a vital part of the automotive industry.  But, some people who live close by are worried the business is putting their health at risk.

"Just to make a profit, you are going to expose these kids to pollution," said Haidar Abdallah "That's wrong."

Severstal is requesting a revision to its 2006 permit regarding emissions.  The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing the request right now. 

In a statement to Action News, a spokesperson for the steel plant says:

"The permit Severstal is seeking from the MDEQ does not authorize us to emit more pollutants. The permit is a technical correction that is based upon the results of stringent testing rather than upon estimates."

A public hearing on the issue has been scheduled for March 19th at Henry Ford Community College.  Information portion starts at 6 p.m. and the public hearing begins at 7 p.m..

Read Severstal's full request below: 


"The permit Severstal is seeking from the MDEQ does not authorize us to emit more pollutants. The permit is a technical correction that is based upon the results of stringent testing rather than upon estimates. With this permit correction, Severstal will continue to meet all applicable state and Federal air regulations for the protection of the public health.

In 2004, when the Rouge Steel plant was in bankruptcy and faced being shuttered forever, Severstal bought it. Since that time, Severstal has poured more than $1.7 billion into renovating and updating this nearly 100 year old steel mill.  Severstal is now seeking a correction to its air permit to more accurately reflect historic actual emission levels.  Severstal installed two state-of-the-art air pollution control baghouses in 2007 as part of its facility modernization project, which reduced particulate, lead and manganese emissions.  The baghouses and the initial step in facility modernization was authorized by permits issued in 2006 and 2007, and was completed in late 2007.  Severstal followed a “plan, do, check, and act”  approach:  It planned the modernization and emissions controls based on available information, undertook construction, verified the project via repeated emissions testing, and is now taking action to correct permit limits based on new information that was not and could not have been available until after the project was completed.  Specifically, until the new air pollution control baghouses were installed, it was not possible to measure the full extent of pre-existing emissions from the Rouge facility.  The subsequent emissions testing revealed that pre-existing emissions, emissions that had always been there, were underestimated.  The correction of the permit limits will more accurately reflect the emissions that have always been occurring at the facility.  Severstal has worked with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to establish appropriate corrected permit limits that reflect known emissions, are protective of public health and maintain the emissions reductions achieved by the baghouses. The corrected permit does not seek and will not result in any changes at the facility that will cause increases in emissions.  The new data generated by current stack testing confirms the large reductions in air emissions achieved with the installation of the baghouses.                     

Severstal is committed to being a good neighbor to the surrounding communities. We are also committed to keeping good, high-wage jobs in the Detroit-area. Out of those commitments, Severstal employs some 1600 workers here in Dearborn and continues to seek ways to work with the surrounding communities, whether through recent town hall meetings or the Citizens Advisory Council we are forming.

There are those who suggest that this permit is about corporate greed – putting profits before people. They could not be more wrong. Despite nearly a decade of investment, Severstal’s Dearborn plant has yet to turn a profit. Our goal at Severstal is to build a sustainable business that continues to provide good, high wage jobs, while meeting our legal obligations and being considerate of the safety and environmental concerns of our neighbors."

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