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Huron Portland Cement Co. v. City of Detroit

Hand-fired Boilers And Coal Smoke

The Huron Portland Cement Co. was a Michigan company engaged in the manufacture and sale of cement. Its fleet of five vessels traveled across the Great Lakes, carrying cement to various customers from its mill in Alpena, Michigan. Huron Portland Cement Co. had made certain to have all its ships inspected, approved, and licensed by the U.S. Coast Guard. However, two of its vessels, the S.S. S.T. Crapo and the S.S. John W. Boardman were equipped with hand-fired Scotch marine boilers. When these boilers were operating, they burned fuel coal in such a way as to emit huge quantities of dense, black smoke.

The City of Detroit, mindful of the enormous amount of industry it then contained, had passed the Smoke Abatement Code, which limited the amount of smoke any combustion equipment could emit. If an owner's device emitted more than the legal amount of smoke, he or she might be liable for a fine of $100 and a 30-day jail sentence, so the Huron Portland Cement Company found itself in violation of the Detroit law.

Criminal chargess were brought against the company. The company responded by taking the city to court. The company argued that its ships had been licensed by the federal government and approved for interstate trade. In order to get licensed, the ships had even been inspected by the Coast Guard.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1954 to 1962Huron Portland Cement Co. v. City of Detroit - Significance, Hand-fired Boilers And Coal Smoke, Regulating Interstate Commerce, "at War With The Federal License"