Sunday, May 23, 2010

Flint's breath of EPA air

Other abandoned General Motors plants in Flint could follow Buick City into trust fund pool

By Ron Fonger | Flint Journal

May 20, 2010, 5:00AM



FLINT -- General Motors former Buick City site and Powertrain Flint North are in line for a piece of an $800-million trust fund aimed at cleaning up abandoned GM plants across the country.

But the timeline for cleaning up contamination at other Flint properties owned by Motors Liquidation Corp. hasn’t taken shape yet.

The Flint area has more than 850 acres of property owned by MLC, the company set up to handle GM’s “bad” assets, including abandoned and polluted former factories.

So far, however, the White House has declined to provide a full list of sites that will get funding, according to the Associated Press, and Flint Mayor Dayne Walling said he and others have been focused narrowly on the old Buick City site because it’s considered a prime redevelopment target.

“The site is a perfect fit for an intermodal facility, (and) we’re confident we have the right partnership to recycle the site and get it back into productive use,” Walling said Wednesday.

EPA said Wednesday that it has approved a cleanup plan for Buick City and work on the $5-7 million project will start later this year.

Representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Rep. Dale Kildee, D-Flint,  and Walling said they aren’t sure yet which other former GM sites will get approved plans and funding next.

Walling’s office said there are 640 acres of MLC property and 4.7 million square feet of building space inside Flint city limits, more than any other city in the country.

Among the MLC properties are acreage near the Great Lakes Technology Center and the old Inland Fisher Guide Plant on Coldwater Road. More than 90 sites in 14 states have been identified for the trust fund funding.

Walling called the federal funds for the old Buick City plant a "game-changing investment" for  Flint.

Powertrain Flint North, which is scheduled to close by the end of this year, is also in line for clean-up funding. EPA officials said MLC is working on revising its clean-up plan for that property.

Flint North is considered to be more contaminated that the Buick City site, said Jill Groboski, EPA’s Buick City project manager.

Flint North is located immediately north of Leith Street in Flint. As recently as mid-2008, the complex employed more than 1,200 workers here but that number has dropped since that time as GM ended production of its 3.8-liter V6 engine.

Unlike the Buick City property, several buildings still remain on the Flint North site.

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