A recent report released by the NAACP gave DTE Energy's Trenton Channel Power Plant on West Jefferson a failing grade when it comes to the health impact on a 3-mile area surrounding the plant.
The NAACP report, “Your Energy, Your Power!: A Case Study on Renewable Energy and Public Health Equity in Michigan,” examines the health impact of coal-fired power plants in Michigan and recommends a transition to clean, renewable energy sources, according to an NAACP release.
"Low-income communities and communities of color are the most impacted by the pollution," according to the report.
The 3-mile radius surrounding the Trenton plant includes Trenton and parts of Grosse Ile.
The Trenton plant is one of six power plants in Michigan that rank among the nation’s top “environmental justice offenders,” based on how they impact low-income communities and communities of color, according to the report.
Though the NAACP gave the plant an 'F,' DTE Energy spokesman John Austerberry said the grade does not reflect the company's performance.
"We are a good steward of the environment and a good corporate citizen," Austerberry said.
The report claims more than $1 billion is spent by the state of Michigan in health damages each year for people affected by coal-burning plants.
"These groups (low-income communities and communities of color) suffer from high rates of asthma and other health issues that cause hospital visits and early death," as stated in the report.
Austerberry said the Trenton plant is in compliance with EPA ambient air quality standards.
"Health is a very complex issue," Austerberry said. "A lot of things go into an individual's heath. I don’t think you can draw that conclusion."
According to the report, the average income for people living within three miles of the plant is $29,078. According to the 2010 Census, the population of the city of Trenton is about 96 percent white.
Austerberry said that in the last 30 years DTE Energy has reduced particulate emissions by about 90 percent, sulfur dioxide emissions by about 80 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions by about 70 percent.
A new state law requiring 90 percent mercury emissions by 2016 is currently in effect and Austerberry said DTE officials are planning a strategy that will bring the plant to full compliance with the law by 2016.