Marathon Petroleum Corporation agrees to meet with residents near Detroit refinery to discuss pollution

Black residents advocate for fairness in Marathon home purchase program

After four years of effort, residents of Michigan’s 48217 ZIP code, the most polluted area in the state, have secured a meeting with officials from the Marathon Petroleum Corporation (NYSE: MPC). Michigan United environmental justice organizer and 48217 resident Emma Lockridge spoke to shareholders in Findlay, Ohio when she raised the issue of toxic emissions impacting residents in homes surrounding its refinery in Southwest Detroit.

“I want to applaud Marathon for taking responsibility for the impact of its refinery expansion in 2007 and giving so many nearby residents relief by purchasing their homes,” Lockridge said during the comment period at the end of the shareholder meeting. “Sadly, the previous Marathon buyouts fell short. I am one of many people who still live near the facility and we are still impacted by these same emissions. We need to meet to find some kind of relief.”

Her appeal came after years of trying to meet with Marathon CEO, Gary R. Heminger. Last year, Lockridge and her neighbors enlisted the support of Michigan State Representatives Stephanie Chang, Fred Durhall III, Detroit Councilmember Raquel Castenada-Lopez and Wayne County Commissioner Ilona Varga to secure a meeting. Nonetheless, refinery officials refused their request to discuss a buyout program.

Yesterday, during the annual stockholder meeting, Lockridge addressed Heminger while protesters lined the streets chanting “Buy Our Homes! Expand the Zone!”

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Protesters alert shareholders to their company’s pollution problem at red lights en route to meeting in Findlay, OH. (Photo courtesy Natalie Gallagher)

“These horrible refinery odors enter my home. It is unbearable,” said long-time resident Anthony Parker.  “Living so close to the refinery severely impacts my property value which makes it hard to move away from the polluted air.”