Read the full article by Paula Gardner

“FLINT, MI — Michigan and federal officials are investigating the presence of PFAS at the closed Buick City factory site in Flint…

‘RACER Trust is continuing the active marketing of its Buick City property, but will not close on a sale for development until we have a deeper understanding of PFAS impacts at the site and, in consultation with regulatory authorities, determine a comprehensive remedial strategy,’ said Bruce Rasher, RACER’s redevelopment manager, on Wednesday.

Sampling in April from eight groundwater monitoring wells found combined readings of PFOS and PFOA — two types of the ‘forever chemical’ that travel in water — as high as 614 parts per trillion (ppt) in three of them.

Later testing in August showed a combination of the chemicals in groundwater reached 767 ppt, including 720 ppt of PFOS.

That compares to statewide PFOS cleanup standards of 70 ppt for groundwater and 12 ppt for surface water.

The PFAS found at Buick City is not expected to be a risk to drinking water, according to the state, because nearby households are served by the municipal system. Residential wells exist ‘at some distance’ from the site, the state says, and the groundwater does not flow in their direction.

The biggest potential risk would be contaminated groundwater discharging to the Flint River, according to state officials. Tests have not determined that is happening with PFAS, but other contaminated groundwater has made its way from the property to the river via storm sewers.

The industrial property on Flint’s northeast side along I-475 is among four locations recently added to the Michigan PFAS Action and Response Team website noting where the per- and poly-fluorinated compounds have been found in the state. Those locations include a former Lacks Industries factory site near Grand Rapids…

At Buick City, the Environmental Protection Agency has been overseeing cleanup from multiple contaminants, with some of the work dating back to 2000.

Among the cleanup efforts already on the site: ‘… monitoring groundwater impacts from volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and select metals; addressing oil discharge from four … permitted storm sewer outfalls; closing releases from historic leaking underground storage tanks; closing several former hazardous waste storage units; and addressing lead and polychlorinated biphenyl impacted soils.’

The Buick City property was used for automotive production dating back to the late 1800s, then it became a Buick Motor Company factory in 1903. General Motors Corp. operated factories there for decades until it ceased all operations on the 413-acre property in 2010, turning it over to RACER Trust during its bankruptcy.

RACER set aside $33 million to fund cleanup work as it fulfills its goal of preparing the property for sale and redevelopment.

That funding now likely will include PFAS cleanup. So far, the full scope of contamination and how the cleanup will happen is undetermined…

PFOS once was used in some industrial applications and also is found in some types of firefighting foam, known as AFFF. State officials said the Buick City monitoring wells are ‘in an area thought to be a former firefighting training area where AFFF is believed to have been used.’

Those monitoring wells helped to pinpoint a location for PFAS on the property, but undetermined is whether there could be more. Besides the firefighting training site, the property is believed to have included a chrome plating area and a waste water treatment plant, and buildup is possible in the storm sewers.

‘One of the challenges is the property is two miles long,’ Trigger said.

About 49 acres at the site have been sold, with 364 acres still available. RACER issued a ‘call for bids’ in May, after multiple buyers emerged. Among them was a $23 million project aiming to bring an industrial park to the southern portion of the site spearheaded by the C.S. Mott Foundation.”