BY TOM HESTER SR.
Old General Motors has agreed to establish a trust that will provide $24,708,069 to clean up New Jersey sites it left behind when the company went into bankruptcy.
The White House announced Wednesday that after months of negotiation with the federal government, New Jersey, 13 other states and a tribal government, that Old GM, now know as Motors Liquidation Company or MLC, will the trust to finance the cleanup of 89 Under this agreement, Old GM will commit $773 million to cleaning up property sites – two thirds of which are known to be contaminated with hazardous waste.
In New Jersey, $10.5 million will go toward cleaning up pollution at former GM site and $14.2 million will be allotted for the Clark site.
In Ewing, the settlement will fund a complete remediation effort at a site that has been vacant for years. In Clark, the tract already has been redeveloped and the settlement will finance continued remediation and monitoring of the ground water.Federal officials said the environmental trust is unprecedented in size, speed of settlement, and level of local involvement. It will give local communities the opportunity to participate in designing the strategy for repurposing the polluted properties with the purpose of quickly returning them to use and creating jobs. The agreement was filed with the bankruptcy court that is overseeing the final dissolution of Old GM. It is expected that final approval will take place early next year.
"This fantastic news has been a long-time coming,'' state Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. "It's an environmental win for this state and also will greatly benefit the public health and welfare of the people who live and work in these communities. The legacy of contamination finally can be left behind.''
U.S. Environmental Protection Administrator Lisa Jackson said, "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." Jackson is a former New Jersey environmental protection commissioner.
Secretary of Labor and co-chairwoman of the White House Council on Auto Communities and Workers Hilda Solis highlighted the trust's impact on local community development. "These funds will create much-needed jobs in the communities directly affected by the General Motors restructuring,' she said. "This trust will create jobs not only through the direct hiring of clean up personnel, but also by generating private investment through locally-driven solutions that repurpose the sites toward new productive uses."
The $773 million trust will be divided as follows: $431 million will be used directly in the states for cleaning up the Old GM properties; $68 million will be placed in a pooled account for environmental cleanup that may arise at any of the 89 properties, transferred to the trust on account of unforeseen conditions; approximately $12 million will be credited to Old GM for approved cleanup activities, and $262 million in cash and other assets will be used to cover various administrative activities and activities that help return these properties to beneficial use such as demolition.
Federal and the state environmental agencies will work closely with the trust on budgeting for implementing the cleanups. The trust will work closely with communities when selling or repurposing the properties. In addition to generating sale proceeds, the trust will consider both the potential for the reuse to create jobs in the applicable state and the views of the applicable state and affected communities.
The trust will provide the fifth highest amount for New Jersey. Michigan will get $158.6 million, New York $153.8 million, Ohio $39.3 million, and Indiana $25.1 million.