Michigan Town Wins Recognition in Car Plant Toxic Spill Dispute

Think twice before buying the next chrome part for your car, the plant that made it could be poisoning people. That was the case for the folks in Highland Park, Mich.,whose long-standing protest is finally gaining the attention of state officials.

“Everyone is entitled to a good quality of life,” said Shareef El-Mubarak, president of the Masjid Al-Nur Mosque and Community Center, which is blocks from the closed Chrome Craft plant.  “I want to know if something is there, what kind of effect it could have on residents, and any long-term impacts to the children who have played here for years.”

Chrome Craft closed its doors in late 2009, but racked up 39 violations of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act during its operation. According to one former employee, toxic chemical spills at the plant were routine, both inside and outside the building. Area residents suspect that those spills compromised water and soil safety and are demanding an inspection.

Until now, the cause saw little progress, but the activist group gained recognition from the Michigan Department of Environment Quality after delivering testimony.

Moving into the future, it seems residents will finally have answers about spilled chromium, a known carcinogen and how it has affected their lives.

The company that owned and operated the plant, parts supplier Flex-N-Gate, is in turn owned by billionaire business success story Shahid Khan, who recently acquired the Jacksonville Jaguars.

“We won’t let the 1 percent make the 99 percent clean up their dangerous mess,” a local pastor said.