Several Michigan legislators held a press
conference calling on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to perform a study
of the health impacts of the proposed Detroit Intermodal
Freight Terminal (DIFT) project. The DIFT, a truck-rail terminal project
proposed in Detroit, Dearborn and Ferndale is currently being studied by
the Michigan Department of Transporation (MDOT). The legislators’ call for a study of potential health
impacts, echoes that of members of the affected community, who have also called
for FHWA to consider health in their environmental impact statement for the
proposed DIFT. Text of the press release is below.
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, June 22,
Contact: Senator Buzz
Representative Steve Tobocman-517-373-0823
RISKING LIVES, JEOPARDIZING HEALTH
possibility of increased illnesses
and possibly even increased numbers of deaths, Michigan legislators, including State
Representative Morris Hood (D-Detroit), State Representative Andy Meisner
(D-Ferndale), State Representative Steve Tobocman (D-Detroit), State Senator
Liz Brater (D-Ann Arbor), State Senator Hansen Clarke
(D-Detroit), State Senator Gilda Jacobs (D-Huntington Woods), State Senator
Buzz Thomas (D-Detroit), today
called on the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to perform a more rigorous
air quality study, including a study of the health impact of the proposed
Detroit Intermodal Freight Terminal (DIFT). The DIFT, a truck-rail freight terminal
project proposed in Detroit, Dearborn and Ferndale is currently being studied by the
Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).
“Today, we are
asking the federal government to do its job and determine the threat of the
DIFT to our community,” said Tobocman. “The Bush Administration has been
notoriously lax in protecting air quality. The community deserves a more
thorough air quality study than is being currently proposed for the
The DIFT is expected to
drastically increase truck traffic, with up to 5000 truck trips a day if a
consolidated facility is implemented.
These trucks would add a significant amount of air pollutants to Southwest
Detroit and East Dearborn, an area that
currently suffers as having some of the worst air pollution in Michigan.
The additional diesel
exhaust from the trucks would bear a severe impact on the community. Diesel fumes can lead to decreased lung function, asthma
exacerbations, cancer, and cardiopulmonary morbidity and mortality. In addition, both particulate matter 2.5
and ozone, two of the criteria air pollutants for which Detroit is a
non-attainment area, are linked to adverse health outcomes, especially in
sensitive sub-populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly.
government’s responsibility to ensure that public dollars are not used to
worsen the quality of life for any community or endanger the health of any
person,” said Thomas.
“Government’s job is to protect its citizens, and that is
what we are asking the federal government to do today—protect those
citizens that will be directly and daily bombarded by this project.”
Detroit already has a high incidence of asthma,
which is estimated at 17% by the Lung Association, considerably
higher than the estimated 9% for Michigan and 7% for the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease
of Michigan scientists who have been studying the severity of asthma in
Southwest Detroit children have found links in increases in particulate matter
and ozone to worsening symptoms in children with moderate to severe asthma.
“It would be wrong
to ignore scientific data that supports the link between air quality
to asthma or other respiratory illnesses,” said Hood. “We wouldn’t expect the
government to build a road without studying its impact on traffic, so why
should we build a freight terminal and not study its impact on the air quality in
our community and the health of children and families?”
Kathryn Savoie, Ph.D.
Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)
6450 Maple Street
Dearborn MI 48126