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$773-Million Settlement With Old GM Will Spur Cleanup at Former Sites

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More environmental cleanup work may be on the horizon for remediation contractors as a result of a $773-million settlement that will set up a trust fund—the largest of its kind—to clean up and repurpose numerous former General Motor sites across the country.

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The settlement, filed Oct. 20 in the Manhattan court overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings, is between the United States, along with 14 states and a tribal government, and the liquidation company that now owns the assets of the old General Motors Corp. (Old GM).

Under the agreement, Old GM will commit $773 million for the cleanup of 89 property sites—two thirds of which are known to be contaminated with hazardous waste—in 14 states.

The money will be paid into an environmental trust; the administration will be overseen by Elliott Laws, who headed up the Environmental Protection Agency’s office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response during the Clinton administration. The White House says in a statement that the environmental trust is “unprecedented in size, speed of settlement and level of local involvement.” Local communities will have a say in how the sites will be re-used.

More than half of the cleanup funds to be paid to the trust will pay for the environmental remediation of sites in New York and Michigan. In New York, the General Motors-Central Foundry Division Superfund Site in Saint Lawrence County, also known as the Massena site, will receive approximately $120.8 million in dedicated cleanup funds for the remediation of hazardous substances that include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) at the site.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe, whose lands are affected by the contamination, is also a party to the settlement.

In Michigan, which will have the largest amount of properties in the trust, approximately $160 million is allocated for the cleanup of 36 contaminated properties.

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson says, “We’re happy to have a path forward that addresses the needs of former auto communities. This trust—the largest environmental trust in our history—provides support for aggressive environmental cleanups at these sites, which will create jobs today and benefit the environment and human health over the long-term.”

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