Environment Subcommittee Chair and Vice Chair Request Investigation into Chemical Leaks in Detroit

Feb 6, 2020
Press Release
Rouda and Tlaib Also Request Information From Marathon Petroleum Company

Washington, D.C. (Feb. 6, 2020)—Today, Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, and Rep. Rashida Tlaib, the Vice Chairwoman of the Subcommittee, sent a letter asking the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate the chemical release incident at the Detroit facility of the Marathon Petroleum Corporation on September 12, 2019.

“While there are conflicting reports about what occurred, there is reason to believe that this incident may have endangered the health and safety of Marathon employees, first responders, and the surrounding communities,” Rouda and Tlaib wrote.

On September 16, 2019, the Subcommittee on Environment held a field hearing in Detroit to address air and water quality in Michigan and explore how communities near the Marathon Refinery in Detroit are affected by chemical leaks.  Local residents testified about serious concerns regarding the Marathon Refinery and the negative health effects associated with Marathon’s ongoing operations and release incidents. 

For example, Emma Lockridge, a resident of Detroit and a local advocate, recounted her experiences of living near the Marathon facility: 

“I want you just to imagine, if you will, being asleep at 3:30 in the morning, and all of a sudden you start coughing, you get choked.  And then your own coughing wakes you up, and you don’t have a cold.  And then your nose alerts you to the fact that there are chemicals in your bedroom, and you can’t breathe, and they smell toxic, and they are choking you.  These are the emissions that we have experienced as an ongoing presence in our homes from Marathon Petroleum Corporation over the years.”

According to reports, Marathon notified the Detroit Homeland Security and Emergency Management Office of a leak at 1:38 p.m., on September 12, 2019.  However, local residents were not notified until after the leak was allegedly resolved at approximately 2:35 p.m., almost an hour later.

“This recent incident underscores the need for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to address chemical pollution and to safeguard the health and safety of Americans and our environment,” the Members wrote.

In addition, Rouda and Tlaib sent a letter to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of

Marathon Petroleum Corporation requesting information regarding toxic chemical leaks.

“During a tour of the community near the Detroit facility, local residents also told the Subcommittee members that Marathon does not inform residents of the community about the chemicals released after an incident,” the Members wrote.  “If true, this is highly concerning to the Subcommittee since we believe it is important for residents of Detroit to be aware of any particulate matter and/or vapor release that can affect their health.”

Click here to read the letter to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Click here to read the letter to the Marathon Petroleum Corporation.


116th Congress