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Detroit Residents Want City-Wide Evacuation Plan After Oil Refinery Explosion

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Smoke can be seen from the Marathon Detroit Refinery. (Credit/WWJ Tipster Jan)

Smoke can be seen from the Marathon Detroit Refinery. (Credit/WWJ Tipster Jan)

DETROIT (WWJ) - Detroit residents are calling for an emergency evacuation plan nearly a week after an explosion at an oil refinery on the city’s southwest side.

State Representative Rashida Tlaib said Melvindale residents in the area were evacuated after Saturday’s explosion at the Marathon Oil Refinery, but those living in neighboring Detroit were not.

“Right now, this is a sign that if a really dangerous explosion did happen that would require an evacuation, I don’t think the city of Detroit is prepared to effectively, safety and efficiently evacuate the residents in the neighborhoods,” she said.

Talib said Detroit residents living in neighborhoods near the refinery had no idea what was going on, and that needs to change.

“We had senior citizens who need assistance to leave their homes crying over the phone, so scared because the helicopters wouldn’t stop swarming about their homes, the sirens wouldn’t stop, and all they could see is black smoke. It was very, very scary for them to see that Melvindale residents were being evacuated and they were not and no one could tell them why,” she said.

Tlaib, along with a number of environmental groups, met in front of the Kemeny Recreation Center in Detroit on Friday to call for the city to construct evacuation plans should an event like this happen again in the future.

“It’s a human right to feel safe in your home and not to have to worry about living and hosting, being a host to the only refinery in our state. For an explosion to happen and for it to be that scary and dangerous, for them not to know exactly what was going on and whether or not their city is prepared to evacuate them if something more dangerous were to happen.

No one was injured in the explosion last Saturday. Detroit fire officials say it was verified that no hazardous materials were released during the explosion, but they haven’t explained why evacuations weren’t ordered in Detroit, the Associated Press reported.

Officials from Marathon Petroleum say the explosion was caused by a tank that burned held wastewater produced in refining processes.

MORE: Police Give ‘All Clear’ After Explosion At Marathon Refinery

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