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Battle in opposing proposed Ajax plant not over

Featured photo: A Flint resident spoke out at a recent listening session about how she feels about an Ajax asphalt plant being proposed in north Flint.

Written by Tanya Terry

Ajax has now received both a building permit and an air permit to build its proposed Ajax asphalt plant in a primarily a Black and Brown neighborhood in north Flint. But, Lashaya Darisaw, community organizer, said many of the people who live in the area are “very resilient people.” These people, and other community leaders like Darisaw, will not easily give up on their battle in opposing the proposed plant.

The asphalt plant is to be located in an industrial area along Energy Drive, near the intersection of Dort Highway and Carpenter Road. It is at the border between Genesee Township and Flint.

Near the area is a low-income public housing complex.

“These people have already been exposed to a series of tragedies, including the Flint Water Crisis and along with the radiation poisoning,” Darisaw said. “In accordance to being able to get the settlement, they had to do a bone lead test that was ‘not suitable for humans.’ They already have an incinerator across the street. So, an additional plant will exacerbate the health concerns of this community.”

A listening session was recently held in the River Park Apartments to discuss the status of the proposed plant near families in the area.

“HUD as well, as the EPA, even put in comment about how it could possibly violate the Civil Rights Act,” Darisaw added. “EGLE kind of said it was out of their hands and that they were asking for guidance from the EPA. We’re asking that even with the permit being granted that a cumulative impact study be done in accordance with federal and state law for the water crisis, the radiation poisoning, there already being an incinerator over there-on top of the runoff that’s going to be coming from the plant that will flow directly into the Flint River.”

Lashaya Darisaw

According to Darisaw, the Coalition to Stop Ajax, along with 3rd Ward Flint City Councilman Quincy Murphy, wanted to hear the concerns of residents and how they were feeling about what was going on in their neighborhood. They also wanted to hear what residents felt they should be doing next.

Darisaw, Murphy, Ted Zarhfeld of Saint Francis Prayer Center, Attorney Linda Pohly and Flint residents exercised their rights to speak out on the matter during the listening session.

3rd Ward Flint City Councilman Quincy Murphy
A Flint resident, Flint City Councilman Quincy Murphy and Attorney Linda Pohly

“We want to do what’s right on behalf of the citizens of that area…After the event, we took food boxes to residents and we left information for even those who didn’t make it to the listening session to help them understand what steps have already been taken and how they can still give input.”

Resources such as food were given away as part of a community listening session about the proposed Ajax plant.

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