Sacrifice Zones: The 48217

Sacrifice Zones: The 48217 is a community portrait centered on what has been debated as the most polluted area code in the entire state of Michigan. Located in southwest Detroit, lifelong resident Emma Lockridge has been telling her community’s story through her photography for years, capturing the many polluting facilities that surround her neighborhood. Most notably her backyard polluter, the Marathon Petroleum refinery. In 2010, Professor Paul Mohai from the University of Michigan conducted a study on pollution near schools. The research notes the 48217 is at the heart of 52 toxic sites, industrial facilities, and an eight-lane interstate. All within a three-mile radius of the Boynton neighborhood, a predominately African American community. Emma is living proof of the negative health impacts related to air pollution. Over the years she’s contracted asthma, kidney failure, and cancer. Emma and other residents struggled over the years, attempting to find options to leave. When residents attempt to sell their homes, they’re offered little to nothing in return because of the close proximity to industrial zoning. In 2012, Marathon Petroleum offered a purchase plan to buy homes in the nearby community of Oakwood Heights, a predominantly Caucasian community, in an attempt to create a green buffer zone between nearby homes and the new expansion of the refinery. Despite Emma and her neighbors living directly down-wind of Marathon’s own emissions, Marathon offered them no similar deal. Emma and other residents fought for several years for the refinery to offer a similar purchase plan to Boynton residents. After years of Emma raising awareness of the community's plight, on December 17th, 2020 the refinery created a $5 million, voluntary purchase program for the residents of the Boynton community. Finally providing residents relief and a pathway out of the 48217.

Production team