RACER Buick City, Flint, Genesee County

Updated: May 9, 2019

Background

MAP RACER Buick CityThis site is located at 902 East Leith Street in Flint and consists of 413 acres. It is a former automotive manufacturing facility that the General Motors Corporation dispensed with when they declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011.

Recent Accomplishments

  • On March 8, 2019, the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) and MDHHS presented at a Town Hall event held by Representatives John Cherry, Sheldon Neely, Sheryl Kennedy, and Tim Sneller at Mott Community College in Flint. View the presentation.
  • On March 14, 2019, a community meeting occured in Flint to update residents on the site investigation.

Next Steps

  • RACER will be submitting a workplan for further action at the site in January. Next steps will involve a series of localized, focused investigation areas to delineate plumes and collect storm water/sanitary sewers.
  • RACER submitted a workplan in April 2019 that proposes using soil from I-475 for redevelopment on-site. EGLE will be providing comments on this workplan.

Residential Well Testing/Alternate Water Information

  • •Not applicable; there are no known residential wells in the area.
  • EGLE has sampled all municipal water supplies for PFAS. The city of Flint purchases water from the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). View the results for GLWA.

Upcoming Community Engagement

  • RACER Trust is holding a "Bus Tour" of their sites on April 16, 2019.
Sampling: PFOS and PFOA Only

Type of Sample

Date Sampled

# of Samples

# of Results Received

# of Non-detects

# Between Non-detect and standard*

# > Standard

Groundwater

Apr 2018 -
Jan 2019
39 39 5 15 19
Storm Water Jan 2019 14 14 4 6 4
Sanitary Sewer Jan 2019 13 13 4 3 6
Cumulative   66 66 13 24 29

*Groundwater results are compared to EGLE Part 201 Criteria of 70 ppt PFOS+PFOA.

Sampling notes

  • Other PFAS analytes were detected in samples. There are no federal or state standards for these analytes.

Additional Information

Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust, also known as RACER Trust or just RACER, was created in March 2011 by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, to clean up and position for redevelopment properties and other facilities owned by the former General Motors Corporation before its 2009 bankruptcy. The RACER Trust is one of the largest holders of industrial property in the United States and is the largest environmental response and remediation trust in U.S. history.

Formally known as the former GM Northern American Operation Flint 712 facility, the RACER Buick City Site is a former automotive manufacturing facility that the General Motors Corporation dispensed with when they declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2011. The site is located at 902 East Leith Street in the city of Flint in Genesee County. The RACER Trust currently owns about 364 acres, with two parcels totaling approximately 49 acres having been sold and redeveloped for new manufacturing operations.  The RACER Trust continues to work on completing the necessary environmental cleanup work for the entire 413-acre site.  The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) authorizes and oversees the required cleanup work with the support of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (EGLE) in regard to the bankruptcy settlement.

Drinking water in the area is supplied by a municipal system, the source of which is the Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA). Some domestic wells are present at some distance from the site but are not anticipated to be impacted due to their distance and the groundwater flow direction and velocity. Given the fact that municipal water is provided by the GLWA, the biggest potential risk is to aquatic organisms and other users of the Flint River from contaminated groundwater discharging to the river.

The RACER Trust continues to monitor their discharges from the site to the Flint River in accordance with their National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) permit.  Contaminated groundwater venting to the storm sewers is an established pathway to the Flint River and remains a concern.  The NPDES permit does not, however, address the potential discharge of PFAS to the storm sewer system from the site. 

There is a fish consumption advisory in place in the Flint River where PFOS is driving the advisory for several species. Learn more with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) “Eat Safe Fish” guides.

RACER Buick City Historical Timeline

A nanogram per liter (ng/L)
reported by a laboratory is
the same as a part per
trillion (ppt).

  • April 2018, the first PFAS sampling was conducted by RACER Trust under a USEPA-approved workplan. The USEPA simultaneously collected and analyzed their own samples. Samples were collected on-site from eight groundwater monitoring wells in an area thought to be a former firefighting training area where AFFF is believed to have been used. Three analytical methods were used to analyze the samples, all of which were generally in agreement.
    • Combined PFOA+PFOS were above 70 ppt in three monitoring wells.
  • May 31, 2018, additional groundwater samples were taken from five monitoring wells, both on and off-site, to gain further information on the source of PFAS in the area and the extent of the contamination.
  • July 19, 2018, RACER updated EGLE, MDHHS, USEPA, city of Flint, Genesee County Parks and Health Department in Flint at the county office.  RACER presented the second round of PFAS sampling results from the Fire Training area and plans to sample groundwater in five additional areas.
  • August 3, 2018, RACER submitted work plans to EGLE and USEPA for sampling groundwater for PFAS at 5 additional areas on the Buick City site.
  • August 7 and 16, 2018, RACER met with the USEPA and EGLE to discuss the work plans for sampling the proposed five additional areas.
  • August 13, 2018, the city of Flint conducted sampling in three sanitary sewer tributary lines that flow to the East Pump Station, one of which drains from the Buick City area.  Two of these had PFOS levels below 12 ppt, while the third one, which drains from Buick City, had PFOS levels of 720 ppt.
  • August 23, 2019, RACER updated EGLE and USEPA on the history of storm water investigations and the potential of storm water reaching the Flint River. 
  • August 28, 2018, RACER sampled groundwater near the former firefighting area, former Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP), and the former plating and painting line.
  • September 27, 2018, RACER collaborated with the city of Flint to sample five sanitary sewers on and near Buick City site.
  • October 9, 2018, RACER briefed EGLE and USEPA on the PFAS found in groundwater samples collected August 28, 2018.  PFAS was found associated with the firefighting training area at levels up to 600 ppt total tested PFAS. Total tested PFAS was found associated with historic painting operations at 15,000 ppt.  Samples collected near a storm water conveyance in the areas of the former GM WWTP were 4,800 ppt total tested PFAS in groundwater, and two groundwater samples collected near the former painting/enameling operation area were 4,600 ppt and 4,800 ppt total tested PFAS, respectively.
  • October 15, 16, 17, 2018, RACER collected groundwater, storm sewer and sanitary sewer samples.
  • October 16, 2018, RACER and EGLE met with Genesee County Health Department to provide an update on the most recent PFAS findings and the Drinking Water well survey near Buick City.  The well survey did not identify any drinking water wells on the Buick City property or near the property. GM conducted the first survey in 2000 as part of the site risk assessment reported to USEPA; RACER updated the survey of drinking water wells in 2011 and again in 2018.  EGLE conducted a field verification of the survey in 2018.
  • October 24, 2018, RACER and EGLE met with the city of Flint to provide an update on sample results and plans for additional sample collection.  RACER re-affirmed that drinking water well surveys support that no Flint residents are drinking groundwater. RACER also shared that PFAS discovery at Buick City had created uncertainty in remedial plans, therefore, redevelopment of the Buick City property is paused to allow RACER to characterize and understand PFAS.
  • October 31, 2018, RACER shared sanitary sewer sample results collected September 27, 2018, with the USEPA and EGLE. The results ranged from less than 0.5 ppt to 860 ppt PFOS in the sanitary sewer.
  • November 7, 2018, RACER updated the city of Flint, Genesee County Health Department, EGLE, MDHHS, and USEPA with the results of sampling in October and proposed additional sampling of groundwater and storm water.  Five storm water samples were collected ranging from below 10 ppt to 4,000 ppt PFOS. One sanitary sewer sample result was 130 ppt PFOS.  Of the 22 groundwater samples, PFOS results were:
    • 2,510 ppt and 6,070 ppt near the pickling and enameling area
    • 10,090 ppt near the paint shop
    • As high as 18,660 ppt east of the railroad tracks in an unknown source area
    • As high as 38,000 ppt near the former paint shop
    • 10 locations had PFOS over 1,000 ppt
  • November 13, 2018, RACER presented the draft communication plans and fact sheet to USEPA, EGLE, city of Flint and Genesee County Health Department for the Buick City Site titled “Cleanup Progress at Former Factory Complex” intended for distribution at the meetings held on November 14 and 15, 2018. 
  • November 14, 2018, RACER held a public meeting in Flint   at 6 p.m. at Harding Mott University Center -- Kiva Room, University of Michigan-Flint Campus, 400 Mill Street.
  • November 15, 2018, RACER held a public meeting at 6 p.m. at Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle, 930 E. Myrtle Avenue (at Industrial Avenue).
  • December 18, 2018, RACER submitted a memo to EPA and EGLE regarding outfall sampling at outfalls 003 and 005. The memo described PFAS sampling of groundwater from 14 site monitoring wells, storm water samples from 10 locations within the Outfall Drainage Area 003 storm sewer system, and storm water from four locations within the Outfall Drainage Area 005 storm sewer system.  PFOS was detected in the groundwater and storm water, requiring further evaluation of the site conditions.
  • December 20, 2018, RACER updated EGLE, USEPA and the city of Flint on the data in the December 18, 2018 memo.
  • January 11, 2019, RACER met with EGLE to present the findings in Outfalls 003 and 005.  RACER discussed preliminary plans to conduct additional PFAS sampling of storm water and groundwater.  Plans for sampling will be presented to EGLE on January 25. 
  • January 25, 2019, RACER presented plans to EGLE regarding next steps to investigate  Area 010, Area 011, improve delineation in vicinity of RFI-44-05 – (building 44), Area 008 – (factory 84) focus on groundwater movement to river, and in Area 003 – delineate groundwater impacts in the vicinity of old WWTP.
  • January 30, 2019, RACER submitted a summary of the Sanitary Sewer Sampling results to the EGLE. The sample collected from the sanitary sewer in the right-of-way of Hamilton Avenue contained PFOA at a concentration of 2,280 ng/L and PFOS at a concentration of 27,580 ng/L. The next downstream sample collected from the sanitary sewer, contained PFOA at a concentration of 420 ng/L and PFOS at a concentration of 4,670 ng/L.  Additional investigation of the sanitary sewer is warranted.
  • February 13, 2019, Genesee County Health Department hosted a meeting at their offices in Flint.  City of Flint, EGLE, RACER, DHHS and others were in attendance to receive updates regarding Coldwater Road Landfill, Gilkey Creek, Richfield Landfill, Buick City, Bishop Airport, and Flint River fish advisory.
  • February 14, 2019, RACER submitted a summary of Outfall 008 to EGLE. EGLE is reviewing the summary, RACER concluded in the summary that although PFAS has been detected in groundwater near and along the conveyance in the Outfall Drainage Area 008, there does not currently appear to be a complete pathway for groundwater to enter the storm sewer conveyance and reach the Flint River. 
  • February 19, 2019, RACER met with EGLE to discuss outfall investigations.
  • February 22, 2019, RACER submitted a summary of sampling activities and evaluations completed as part of the required short-term characterization study for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) at the Outfalls associated with the Buick City Site.   
  • February 26, 2019, RACER, EGLE and EPA met in Chicago to update EPA on investigative work testing the sanitary sewers, storm sewers, groundwater and soil on and near the former Buick City site during the federal government shutdown.      
  • March 8, 2019, EGLE, DHHS, RACER, City of Flint and Genesee County Health Department participated in a PFAS Town Hall at the Mott Foundation in Flint.  This event was hosted by several area legislators to share “PFAS 101” and all PFAS sites in the Genesee County/ City of Flint.
  • March 13, 2019, EGLE issued a violation notice to RACER Trust for Buick City regarding Storm water - outfall samples that exceeded water quality standards.  The letter requested that RACER conduct sampling of all outfalls associated with the Buick City site during both dry and wet weather conditions by July 1, 2019.  RACER agreed to to follow through with the request.
  • March 14, 2019, RACER Trust, EGLE, EPA, DHHS, Genesee County Health Department and City of Flint held a public information meeting at the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle, located at 930 E. Myrtle Avenue in Flint to provide the community with an update on RACER’s environmental activities at Buick City.  The update included the most recent test results for PFAS.
  • March 29, 2019, RACER, EGLE, City of Flint and Genesee County participated on a panel at the Resiliency Week 2019: Friday Morning Environmental Justice Session.  The panel shared an update of PFAS results in Genesee County and the City of Flint.  The focus of the discussion was Buick City.
  • April 3, 2019, RACER collecting samples to evaluate PFAS in soil.  Results are expected to be reported out in April.
  • April 9, 2019, EGLE received a letter from RACER which outlined plans to reuse soils from the I-475 MDOT project at Buick City.