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.
The settlement, filed on Oct. 20 in the Manhattan court overseeing the bankruptcy proceedings, is between the liquidation company that now owns the assets of the old General Motors Corp. (Old GM) and the United States, 14 states and a tribal government.
Under the agreement, Old GM will commit $773 million for the cleanup in 14 states of 89 property sites—two-thirds of which are known to be contaminated with hazardous waste.
The money will be paid into an environmental trust, the administration of which 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. Funds for cleanup and contract oversight will come from the trust, the White House said in a statement. The release claimed 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 the cleanup funds to be paid to the trust will go toward 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 site remediation of hazardous substances, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
According to a spokesman representing Old GM, Chicago-based Brandenburg Construction has been selected to begin demolition at the site in the first quarter of 2011. The EPA has approved Brandenburg for the work, the spokesman says.
Laws’ office will oversee the awarding of future contracts for the 89 sites.
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.
EPA 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.”