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E-M:/ MI legislators call for health study of freight terminal



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.

 

Michigan Legislature

 

 

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, June 22, 2004

 Contact: Senator Buzz Thomas-517-373-0921

Representative Steve Tobocman-517-373-0823

 

HIGHWAY ADMINISTRATION

RISKING LIVES, JEOPARDIZING HEALTH

 

LANSING—Citing the 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 project.”

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. 

“It is 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.”

Metro 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 Control.  University 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?”

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Kathryn Savoie, Ph.D.

Environmental Program Director

 

Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)

6450 Maple Street

Dearborn MI 48126

(313) 216-2225

ksavoie@accesscommunity.org