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Hazardous Waste Cleanup: Buick City Facility - Flint, Michigan

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The former General Motors manufacturing complex known as Buick City in Flint Michigan, is experiencing a long-term EPA cleanup under the RCRA Corrective Action Program.  The facility is divided into the North end and South end, which is divided by Leith street.  The Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust was created as part of the GM bankruptcy proceedings and RACER currently owns the site.

Cleanup Status

SOUTH END:  Corrective measures are now being applied in accordance with the Final Decision and Response to Comments (Final Decision) for the South end of the Site issued on May 13, 2010.  Remedial Activities implemented to date are:

  • A Multiphase Extraction system at Area of Investigation - 9B has removed 137 gallons of Light Non-Aqueous Phase and 3,484 pounds of vapor removed. 
  • LNAPL plumes are present throughout the site and each plume is currently being studied to determine how to fix each.
  • Soil was dug up at AOI - 09A in areas high in lead and benzo(a)pyrene concentrations.
  • Surface covers in select areas were completed in order to protect future site users from soils near the surface that are higher than direct contact standards. These are inspected quarterly. 
  • Storm water diversion  and treatment systems were constructed to remove oil from storm sewer systems.   

NORTH END:  A Remedy Recommendation Report for the North end was submitted to EPA in February 2016 by RACER.   EPA considers this Report when drafting the proposed plan containing EPA's suggested cleanup steps.  This proposed plan is called the Statement of Basis and will be released for public comment and a public hearing in 2019.  How to cleanup this pollution at multiple sites in the North end of the site is currently being studied.  An emerging contaminant group known as Per-and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) has been found on-site and off-site in the groundwater and storm water and is being studied to better define the where it is and at what concentrations.  Proposed remedies will include addressing PFAS contaminants in the short and long term.

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Site Description

The entire facility is 452 acres located in Flint, Michigan in Genesee County.   It is bounded to the north by Stewart Avenue and Pierson Road, to the south by Harriet Street, to the east by James P. Cole Boulevard and CSX Railroad, and to the west by Industrial Avenue and North Street.  The North end is approximately 220 acres. It consists of the area north of Leith Street and bounded to the east by CSX Railroad, to the west by Andrews Street and Industrial Avenue, and to the south by Leith Street.

On March 31, 2011, the RACER Trust received all the Properties and approximately $600 million in funding. RACER began the process of remediating and restoring the Properties.

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Contaminants at this Facility

Buick City contains soil and ground water (underground water supplies) contaminated with various petroleum products, chemicals and metals.  Some of the ground water under Buick City contains free-floating petroleum product called LNAPL.  This which is unusually difficult to remove. Various contaminants have been identified at the Site:

These contaminants are being addressed as part of the remedial implementation process for the South end.  Remedial measures will be proposed to address the contaminants as part of the North end Statement of Basis.

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Institutional and Engineering Controls at this Facility

Proposed institutional controls are restricting land use to industrial/commercial use and restricting groundwater use.

Engineering controls at the site include

  • A Multi-Phase Extraction System,
  • Soil excavation, surface covers,
  • Plugging of certain storm sewer sections to prevent contamination flow to outfalls, 
  • Surface water and groundwater monitoring, and
  • Outfall 003/004 Oil Removal Systems.

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Land Reuse Information at this Facility

A 13.7-acre parcel in the North end at the very northern portion of the site or “Northern Parcel” was sold by RACER Trust to American Spiral Weld Pipe Company for a pipe manufacturing facility.  A 200,000 square foot plant has been built and employed approximately 50 individuals.  EPA provided a comfort letter to American Spiral Weld regarding the Northern Parcel.  Additionally, EPA reviewed and approved the remedy for environmental impacts at the Northern Parcel which includes soil excavation and institutional controls for soils and groundwater. 

Two parcels at the former Buck City plant were sold to build a new Lear Corporation car seat manufacturing facility which is currently operating with 600 jobs anticipated by the end of 2019. The new Lear factory is built on two parcels, one approximately 16 acres in size for the new Lear factory itself and the other parcel approximately 14 acres used for parking. The parcels are located on the South end of Buick City, the cleanup measures conducted on these specific parcels since the EPA Final Decision include a Multi-Phase Extraction (MPE) system, soils excavation, and surface covers. The EPA cleanup of these parcels allowed for a Declaration of Restrictive Covenant (DRC) on these parcels to be completed in August 2017. The DRC allows Lear Corporation to move forward with their redevelopment plans in a safe manner.

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Site Responsibility at this Facility

RACER is responsible for the site cleanup under the RCRA 3008(h) AOC signed September 2011, between EPA and RACER.  In addition, the Settlement Agreement approved by the Court on March 3, 2011 puts the responsibility on the RACER Trust to clean up the site.

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