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Southwest Detroiters Demand Marathon Oil Buy Their Homes: 'Our Kids Can't Live In This Kind Of Mess'

DETROIT (WWJ) - A small, but vocal, group of southwest Detroit homeowners is demanding that Marathon buy them out of the neighborhood.

Fewer than a dozen protesters carried signs as they marched on the sidewalk in front of the Marathon Petroleum building, chanting: "Buy our homes!"

A group calling itself "Citizens For Buy My Home Marathon" says the oil company has created so much pollution at their local refinery, no one wants to move in — meaning they can't sell their homes and move out of what they claim is a contaminated area.

They are also upset that Marathon offered buyouts to residents of the neighboring Oakwood Heights subdivision.

marathon protest
credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ

Neighbor Emma Lockridge organized the group.

"Why should our homes smell like piss every day? Step outside; you can't sit on your porch, you can't garden, you can't do anything. It's a nuisance," she told WWJ Newsradio 950 Mike Campbell.

[Council, Residents Voice Concerns Over Detroit Marathon Refinery]

marathon refinery
Marathon oil refinery in Southwest Detroit. (credit: Mike Campbell/WWJ) FILE

Anthony Parkers, who lives across the freeway, said it's just disgusting down there.

"It's a terrible smell," Parkers said. "Not only is it oily, but it's full of fumes. So, I mean, our kids can't live in this kind of mess. All they have to do is cap the emissions a little bit, and that's all we'd asked."

Lockridge it's a bit late for that now.

"We have no way of life," she said. "Houses over there are worthless."

Communications Manager Jamal Kheiry responded with a statement from Marathon Oil:

"The Detroit refinery has been in its current location since 1930, and Marathon Petroleum Company (MPC) has been proud to be a part of the Detroit community since purchasing the refinery in 1959. We are also proud of our role as a good neighbor. Since 1999, we have reduced our criteria air emissions, defined by the U.S. EPA, by more than 75 percent. In 2013, we completed our Oakwood Heights Property Purchase Program, which provided above-market purchase prices to homeowners who wished to move. We initiated this program because the refinery's 2012 expansion moved the facility's operations closer to this neighborhood."

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