Detroiters experience severe negative health impacts from air pollution, due in large part to the close proximity of the places Detroiters live and play to heavy industry and transportation corridors. Every year, Detroit’s air pollution leads to 690 deaths, thousands of hospital visits, and other health impacts at an estimated yearly cost of $6.9 billion dollars. In addition, Detroit children experience asthma at a rate three times the state average. These health impacts disproportionately fall on poor and minority community members.
One source of air pollution in Detroit is “fugitive dust”, which escapes from large piles of bulk solid materials stored outdoors and is then inhaled by residents. Studies have linked fugitive dust with respiratory health issues, cardiovascular issues, and increased hospitalizations. Bulk solid facilities can also cause a nuisance when excessive dust from piles crosses property lines and accumulates on surrounding property. The proposed fugitive dust ordinance seeks to regulate facilities that store bulk solid materials in order to reduce fugitive dust in Detroit’s communities.
Source: City of Detroit
Basics of the Ordinance
- The fugitive dust ordinance regulates any facility that processes, handles on-site, transfers, loads, unloads, stockpiles, or stores “bulk solid materials.” The phrase “bulk solid material” is defined as any material that can be used as a fuel or ingredient in a manufacturing or construction process that may create fugitive dust and that is accumulated in an amount of 50 cubic yards or more. It includes, but is not limited to, petroleum coke, asphalt millings, ores, iron and steel slag, gravel, sand, and limestone. It does not include salt, grains, commercial solid waste, or garbage.
- The ordinance prohibits dumping, storing, or depositing of any bulk solid material on public or privately owned property; illegal dumping is considered a blight violation and subject to penalties of $1,000, or $2500 for repeat violations.
- Asphalt Millings from government conducted road construction that are stored on or near the project for 45 days or less are not considered illegal dumping.
- Bulk solid material facilities are divided into four different groups within the ordinance, based on the type of material they store
- General Bulk Solid Material Facilities – In general, facilities storing bulk solid materials will be required to take the following steps to control their fugitive dust:
- Facilities must not allow the emission of fugitive dust from their storage piles at an opacity greater than 5% within their property line, or an opacity greater than 0% beyond their property line (opacity describes the degree to which an emission obscures the observer’s view).
- Facilities must submit a fugitive dust plan to BSEED in order to receive a certificate of operation. This plan will include a description of measures to control fugitive dust, as well as a dust monitoring plan that includes operation of two PM10 monitors at the site and a description of measures that will be taken if the dust levels exceed the reportable action level, and operation of a wind monitor and a description of measures that will be taken in very windy conditions to prevent dust.
- In addition, facilities must take extra measures at key locations that are likely to create dust, such as conveyors, transfer points, and truck loading areas. Measures include:
- Moistening material with chemical stabilizer or water spray
- Sending trucks though wheel wash stations or over rumble strips to reduce trackout, and requiring trucks to be covered before leaving the facility
- Street sweeping every 8 hours
- Piles are required to be screened from the view of surrounding properties, and set back at least 25 feet from any waterway.
- BSEED will inspect semi-annually for compliance. If a facility does not meet requirements, BSEED can deny the facility’s certificate of operation.
- Qualified Bulk Solid Material Facilities store construction materials (like asphalt millings, iron and steel slag, gravel, sand and limestone).
- These facilities qualify for a safe harbor within the ordinance, which allows for more flexibility in designing dust control measures as long as the facility is in compliance with state law and BSEED requirements. These facilities are required to submit to BSEED a state operating plan, which is a plan that is already required under Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act. The plan will include some information in addition to what the state requires, including a description of measures to screen piles from view, protect waterways, and control dust in high wind conditions.
- BSEED will review the plan and inspect the facility within 45 days of receipt to ensure compliance, and semi-annually thereafter. For facilities relying on a state permit not part of a state operating plan for compliance, BSEED will review and issue a certificate of alternative compliance.
- Any qualified facility that is out of compliance will be subjected to the same requirements as general bulk solid facilities.
- Scrap Processors will be considered compliant with the ordinance if they hold a BSEED license, and comply with Article VIII of Chapter 49 of the City Code (regulating scrap yards), Section 7, 9, and 10 of the State Scrap Metal Regulatory Act, and state opacity limits. These facilities must use measures to prevent dust trackout (like wheel washing stations and/or rumble strips), and will be inspected semi-annually by BSEED.
- Carbonaceous Material Facilities: these facilities store particularly dangerous materials such as pet coke, which is very dusty, and met coke, which contains hazardous substances such as arsenic and lead. The ordinance requires these materials to be fully enclosed in an approved structure with an air pollution control system or water application system.
- Variances—A facility may apply to BSEED for a variance from any requirement of the ordinance, and BSEED will establish a schedule of fees for variance review. Granting a variance is in the discretion of the BSEED director, but a facility must demonstrate that their facility will not create a public nuisance or adversely impact the surrounding area. The BSEED director shall consider public comments before issuing any variance. BSEED shall provide notice of all variance applications.
- Penalties – A civil fine of $1000 can be issued for violations of the article; repeat violations are subject to a fine of no less than $2500, and can be issued daily.
- Public Health Fund – All fines collected under this ordinance will be deposited into a designated Public Health Fund, which the City will use to mitigate the negative health impacts of pollution. The Fund can be used to purchase and install additional air monitors, conduct health impact assessments, and install buffer spaces.
- Additionally, BSEED has committed to hiring an Air Quality Specialist and purchasing new technology to conduct an air quality study.
Frequently Asked Questions
If there are already state and federal laws that regulate fugitive dust, why does Detroit need to add additional regulations?
Answer: MDEQ does not always have the capacity to rigorously enforce its fugitive dust regulations – the Detroit ordinance will give BSEED enforcement authority to ensure compliance. The state fugitive dust regulations are the same throughout the state – however, Detroit is unique because there is a high concentration of bulk solid facilities in close proximity to residents. In addition, there are several significant gaps in the State regulations of fugitive dust. For example:
- Fugitive Dust Plans – The fugitive dust plans required to be submitted under state law are frequently one-page documents that lack sufficient detail to ensure that the facility is adequately limiting its dust emissions. MDEQ essentially rubberstamps these plans, despite comments from local experts and residents during the permitting process. The Detroit ordinance requires facilities to submit more detailed fugitive dust plans.
- Requirements for Petroleum Coke and Metallurgical Coke – State law does not contain any specific requirements for petroleum coke or metallurgical coke, despite both materials presenting serious public health risks. The Detroit ordinance requires such materials to be stored, processed, and handled in a fully enclosed structure.
- Controlling spikes in fugitive dust – State law not only doesn’t require facilities to take specified measures to control spikes in fugitive dust emissions, it provides facilities with an exemption from emissions standards during high wind conditions. The Detroit ordinance requires facilities to suspend operations OR take measures to control their dust in high wind conditions.
- Inspections – The Detroit ordinance would require more frequent inspections than what is required at the state level. Currently, residents can complain to MDEQ which triggers an investigation. However, a regulatory system that relies on complaints and agency response is an ineffective way to deal with this public health problem.
What groups have been consulted in drafting this ordinance?
Answer: The Detroit ordinance has been in development since 2014. Since that time, over a dozen workgroups were held with various departments and organizations, including Council staff, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Detroit Health Department, Fire Department, City Planning Commission, BSEED, Jobs and Economy Team, and the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center. The administration held additional meetings with many of the same organizations as well as the EPA.
In addition, our office has met with or received input from representatives of the following industries:
- Marys Cement
- Waterfront Terminal Holdings
- Marathon Petroleum
- Michigan Aggregate Association
- C. Levy Co.
- Cadillac Asphalt
- Scrap yard lobbyists
- Butzel Long attorneys
- National Ready Mixed Concrete Association
- Detroit Farm and Garden
- Laborers Local Union 1191
- Detroit Regional Chamber.
Based on feedback from these internal groups and community stakeholders, the fugitive dust ordinance has undergone significant modifications and has been redrafted over fifteen times. The current version of the ordinance is supported by a diverse coalition including all relevant city departments (Detroit Health Department, BSEED, and the Jobs and Economy Team) as well as key environmental groups such as the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center.
Will the fugitive dust ordinance actually reduce fugitive dust emissions in the city and improve public health?
Answer: Numerous studies have shown that the fugitive dust control measures required by the ordinance reduce PM emissions associated with fugitive dust. An EPA report has estimated that by installing the types of control technologies required by the Detroit ordinance, a bulk solid material facility can reduce its total particulate matter emissions from aggregate storage and handling operations by up to 90%.
Notably, the fugitive dust regulations implemented in the Chicago ordinance, which is similar to the Detroit ordinance, have successfully reduced emissions from bulk solid material facilities.
See attached chart for info on the number of residents who live in close proximity to these facilities and are therefore most impacted by the dust emissions.
|Number of People within .5 Mile/People of Color/People Below Poverty
|St. Mary’s Cement
|Great Lakes Aggregate
|670 South Dix
|Detroit Ready Mix Concrete
|Detroit Recycled Concrete
|500 7 Mile
|Detroit Bulk Storage
|115 Rosa Parks
|5431 W. Jefferson
|1475 Springwells Court
|8911 West Jefferson
 CAPHE, Public Health Action Plan: Improving Air Quality & Health in Detroit, 2017.
 U.S. EPA, Compilation of Air Pollutant Emissions Factors, 5th Edition, 1995.
Source: City of Detroit
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