Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New York Town Sees Opportunity in GM's Contamination Cleanup Agreement

by Duane Craig

Perhaps New York has the right idea. Don’t look at land contamination as a problem, but rather as an opportunity for economic gain. General Motors polluted 270 acres near Massena over a 40-year period. The main contaminants are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The company has agreed to pay $154 million for continued cleanup operations as part of its bankruptcy agreement. Overall it will pay $773 million for contamination on 89 sites within 14 states.

The online news site of the local ABC affiliate there hailed the agreement as one that will “not only clean up pollution that threatens public health and safety in these communities, but will also make these sites available and attractive for economic development.” The exact amount going for the cleanup is $120.8 million which may not be near enough if the soil has to be removed and disposed of at a hazardous waste site. Those costs are estimated at $1 million per acre, making the $120.8 million about $150 million short.

However, if phytoremediation can be used then there could be money left over for a party, or something. Phytoremediation uses plants to absorb the heavy metals and by some accounts can do the job for anywhere between $20 million and $40 million. That makes New York’s optimistic take on the contamination into at least an economic win.

Read the story here.

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