Michigan residents hold vigil for clean air in protest of proposed asphalt plant
By JAMES FELTON, JAMES PAXSON
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GENESSE COUNTY, Michigan (WNEM) — Residents of mid-Michigan continued to protest the construction of a proposed asphalt plant by holding a vigil for the death of clean air in their community.
Flint-area residents began a vigil against the proposed AJAX Asphalt Plant on Friday. Opponents say it will make their community’s air quality worse and they do not want to see the plant go up in their community.
Community organizer Lashaya Darisaw wants the state to hold off on its decision regarding an air permit for a hot asphalt plant in Genesee County.
“I’m hoping that they extend the permit decision once again,” Darisaw said.
The Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) is expected to make an announcement on Monday. Darisaw said EGLE needs to deny the permit.
“These children have already been through enough with the Flint water crisis, and then getting a settlement only to be exposed to radiation poisoning. And no, we’re telling them that on top of the health concerns that they already have, because remember there’s already an incinerator there, that they’re going to have more impact,” Darisaw said.
Ted Zahrfeld, with the St. Francis Prayer Center, agrees with Darisaw. Zahrfeld said at the very least, a cumulative impact study needs to be conducted before a decision is made.
“What kind of pollutants and toxins are going into that very poor neighborhood right now? Get a baseline. And then what’s going to happen when a hot asphalt plant comes in? What’s going to go on top of that,” Zahrfeld said.
Zahrfeld said a hot asphalt plant operating there would not be good for his community.
“People walk to the center for emergency food and other services. So, we’re concerned about the people who we serve,” Zahrfeld said.
As for Darisaw, she wants Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to step up and put a stop to the hot asphalt plant.
“What we don’t want to do is have another environmental crisis with another governor stepping back and having silence on the issue like Gov. Synder did here in Flint,” Darisaw said.
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