Unbearable stench: Detroiters sue owner of ‘noxious’ trash incinerator

Photos by Steve Neavling
Photos by Steve Neavling

A group of Detroit residents filed a class-action lawsuit against the owner of Detroit’s trash incinerator Monday, complaining of an unbearable stench that has been increasing for the past few years.

The lawsuit against Detroit Renewable Power alleges nuisance and gross negligence violations stemming from excessive odor.

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The complaint comes less than a month after the Metro Times published a cover story about the rising number of complaints against Detroit Renewable Power, which took ownership in 2010. According to the alt-weekly’s investigation, the state issued 13 violations for excessive odor and logged 114 complaints last year alone.

In 2008, the state fielded just four complaints.

The violations have prompted the state Department of Environmental Quality to consider levying fines and requiring regulatory oversight, the Metro Times investigative reporter Ryan Felton found.

The plant at Russell and I-94 incinerates more than 3,000 tons of waste a day and generates up to 70 megawatts of electricity for DTE Energy.

Monday’s lawsuit was filed by Detroit-based Macuga, Liddle & Dubin.

“On occasions too numerous to list, Plaintiffs’ property including Plaintiffs’ neighborhood, residences and yards were physically invaded by noxious odors and contaminants,” the suit reads.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.