In 2015, AK Steel reached a $1.3 million settlement with the U.S. and the State of Michigan, stemming from dozens of Clean Air Act violations at the company’s Dearborn metal working plant. Now six years later, the Sierra Club and Environment Michigan say they’re taking the first steps in a new legal process over indiscretions at the site.
The two groups say they have filed a notice of intent to sue the facility, which is part of the River Rouge industrial complex. The move gives the Ohio-owned company until the first week of May to respond before more formal litigation can go forward.
“Long term what we’re hoping for is a reduction in the pollution.” — Justin Onwenu, Sierra Club
Justin Onwenu is an environmental justice organizer with the Sierra Club. Similar to past complaints filed against the site, he says there have been a lot of issues at the plant in the past decade especially in terms of pollution.
“And releasing too much lead,” says Onwenu, “too much manganese, too much particulate matter and other forms of pollution. And so hearing from residents and hearing from other parts of the community, people are really fed up.”
Onwenu says they’re hopeful the lawsuit will lead to tangible change.
“Long term what we’re hoping for is a reduction in the pollution, an investment in the community, and also just for this company to be held accountable so that they can be a good neighbor.”
Listen: The Sierra Club’s Justin Onwenu discusses what happens next.