Buick City Environmental Updates
This webpage provides updates and select information on RACER's Buick City site environmental response activities. More information about this site can be found by clicking here.
July 24, 2020
Buick City Environmental Activities Update
RACER Trust is continuing work to assess and address environmental impacts at the former GM Buick City property in Flint, and activities have resumed following Governor Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order.
As previously reported, RACER has found PFAS in concentrations above State of Michigan standards at several locations at Buick City, and has taken steps to stop the discharge of PFAS- impacted groundwater and stormwater through sewer outfalls to the Flint River. A major project to stop PFAS discharges, the rerouting of a storm sewer line through Buick City, is progressing and expected to finish sometime this fall.
RACER also has plugged other storm sewer lines on the property and is collecting further water samples to determine if the plugs have decreased PFAS concentrations at the affected outfalls. In addition, we’re working with the City of Flint to determine whether PFAS from a dormant Buick City sanitary sewer line may be entering the city’s sanitary sewer system, which flows to the city’s wastewater treatment plant. This work on the storm and sanitary sewer lines is important because contaminated groundwater can get into these old lines and eventually end up in the river.
In continuing to collect and assess information, RACER made progress in identifying and reporting to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) two likely source areas for PFAS — one near the Stewart Avenue overpass, the other just north of Hamilton Avenue. Identifying a source area — in addition to steps such as rerouting sewer lines and plugging pipes — is significant because it will help RACER propose data-driven strategies for remediation of this portion of the site.
Among our findings:
- Five soil samples just north of Hamilton Avenue contained PFAS at concentrations greater than 100,000 parts per trillion (PPT), with the highest single sample at 660,000 PPT. We are reviewing historical records in an effort to pinpoint activities that may have resulted in such high readings. Now that this source has been found, further work will focus on defining this area and determining the best way to address these soils.
- PFAS also was found in groundwater just north of Hamilton Avenue at concentrations as high as 46,000 PPT in an area 8 to 13 feet below the ground surface, and as high as 41,000 PPT in an area 19 to 24 feet below the surface. Also, a storm sewer pipe near the Stewart Avenue overpass had a reading in excess of 20,000 PPT; a major section of that pipe has been disconnected and removed. (There is no indication that any of the PFAS discovered at Buick City is impacting any drinking water source).
- Lead soil concentrations in excess of 900 parts per million (PPM), the limit for direct human contact, were found at a number of locations in the center of the site between Leith Street and Stewart Avenue. The highest reported result of 385,000 PPM is thought to be from a piece of lead in the sample, which affects the result. However, despite the high levels of lead in these soil samples, the locations are covered by concrete and other cover material and are not of concern in their current location and condition. To support redevelopment of the site, a plan will be implemented to ensure these soils are managed safely if construction and development activities involve work in these locations.
Accessing groundwater at Buick City for drinking or any other purposes is prohibited by deed restrictions enforced by EGLE. RACER has worked closely with the Genesee County Health Department, City of Flint and EGLE to review publicly available data sources to identify possible drinking water wells located near the Buick City property. Site investigation work completed to date at Buick City has not identified any contamination, including lead and PFAS from the site, that has or potentially could contaminate any drinking water sources.
On July 27, sampling crews and drilling rigs will be on site to collect more soil and groundwater samples near Hamilton Avenue to better define the extent of the discovered PFAS source area and possible remedial options. It is likely that additional rounds of sampling will be conducted later this summer, and a follow-up report reviewing possible treatment or remediation technologies will be prepared for review by EGLE in late fall.
More details about these recent environmental activities at Buick City can be found in the summary report below.
May 6, 2020
Storm Sewer Project to Resume at Buick City
May 6, 2020 — Work to install new pipes and reroute a storm sewer line through RACER Trust’s Buick City property in Flint will resume on or shortly after Thursday, May 7, the date designated for resumption of construction activities in the state under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start plan.
The project to replace and reroute more than 3,600 feet of an underground storm sewer that passes through Buick City began the first week of March. The work was paused on March 24 in compliance with Gov. Whitmer’s Stay Home, Stay Safe order and in consultation with the Michigan Department of Great Lakes, Environment and Energy. All storm sewers at Buick City have continued to operate at full capacity during the shutdown.
Once the work resumes, the project should take about three months to complete. Contractors working at Buick City are required to follow all applicable governmental and health agency guidance and adhere to best practices for safety, including the use of personal protective equipment and social distancing.
The project is designed to eliminate a pathway of migration for PFAS to the Flint River by closing leaking, decades-old underground pipes and reconfiguring the system to avoid a portion of the property that is known to be impacted by PFAS.
The storm sewer that is being reconfigured (known as outfall 003) has the largest drainage area of any of the storm sewers that pass through the Buick City property, draining over 300 acres upstream in the city of Flint before it passes through Buick City.
RACER is continuing to carry out its environmental obligations at Buick City and elsewhere during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes working under the oversight of regulatory agencies to prepare remedial action plans, maintenance and operation of essential environmental systems, and monitoring and evaluation of environmental data.
Please remain healthy and safe during this unprecedented time.
April 1, 2020
Rerouting of Storm Sewer at Buick City Paused, Will Resume When COVID-19 Restrictions are Lifted
April 1, 2020 — Work to replace and reroute over 3,600 feet of underground storm sewer lines through RACER Trust’s Buick City property in Flint has been paused indefinitely in response to Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order to cease nonessential business. Storm sewers remain operational at full capacity.
The work, which began the first week of March, was paused on March 24. It will resume as soon as possible upon the direction of the State. Once the storm sewer reroute resumes, it should take approximately three months to complete.
In addition to our work to clean up and redevelop the former Buick City property (and other such properties across Michigan), our priorities during this pandemic include keeping all staff and support personnel healthy while continuing to provide essential services to the community during this work interruption. We are following all applicable governmental and health agency guidance and taking precautions to help keep our staff, consultants and community safe, including working remotely.
RACER is continuing to carry out its other environmental obligations regarding Buick City and elsewhere during the COVID-19 crisis. This includes preparation of remedial action plans, maintenance and operation of essential environmental systems, and review and evaluation of environmental data.
Please remain healthy and safe during this unprecedented time.
Buick City Sewer Reroute
March 4, 2020 - Work to replace and reroute over 3,600 feet of underground storm sewer lines through RACER Trust’s Buick City property in Flint began the first week of March and is expected to take approximately four months to complete.
The project, paid for by RACER Trust, is designed to eliminate a pathway of migration for PFAS to the Flint River by closing leaking, decades-old underground pipes and reconfiguring the system to avoid a portion of the property that is known to be impacted by PFAS.
The storm sewer that will be reconfigured (known as outfall 003) has the largest drainage area of any of the storm sewers that pass through the Buick City property, draining over 300 acres upstream in the city of Flint before it passes through Buick City.
As part of the project, some soil and groundwater that are impacted by PFAS will be managed under a plan approved by the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). A portion of the groundwater will be treated and discharged to the city of Flint sanitary sewer under a permit. RACER will pay the city of Flint a fee for that discharge.
RACER Trust continues to work on a long-term groundwater management strategy as part of its overall remedial approach to environmental impacts at Buick City. None of the groundwater associated with this site is used for drinking water.
While this project is designed to stop PFAS from entering the Flint River through outfall 003, PFAS has been discovered at other outfalls that pass through the Buick City property. RACER Trust is assessing the source of those impacts and is working with EGLE on a plan designed to stop those discharges as well.
The storm sewer replacement will be performed by Angelo Iafrate Construction Co. of Warren, Michigan, an experienced infrastructure contractor. Work, which will generally be conducted Monday through Saturday between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., may be visible to residents along Industrial and East Stewart avenues in Flint. For a short period, some work will occur within Stewart Avenue with appropriate directions and caution signs.
For more information, please call 855-722-3741.
RACER Submits PFAS Results Memos to EGLE, Covering Activities at Buick City
RACER Trust has submitted reports to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) that summarize the results of sampling for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) conducted during the summer and fall of 2019 at the former GM Buick City manufacturing complex in Flint.
PFAS above the State of Michigan’s standard for ground water and surface water were detected at several locations, as specified in the summary reports. RACER Trust is continuing to work with EGLE and the U.S. EPA to investigate the source of PFAS impacts at Buick City and on remedial approaches to address the impacts.
Diagrams within the reports show where samples were collected and the result of analysis for each location.
Latest Results of PFAS Sampling, Former GM Buick City Property
Samples collected in late June or early July from storm sewers that pass through the former GM Buick City property and discharge to the Flint River detected PFAS in concentrations above State of Michigan criteria at several locations.
These results, along with plans for additional sampling and other remedial activities at Buick City, will be discussed during a community meeting hosted by RACER Trust that is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 13, at Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle, 930 E. Myrtle Ave., Flint.
The meeting is open to the public. Representatives from the Michigan Department
of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy; the U.S. EPA; and state and county health
departments are expected to attend and be available to answer questions as well.
Sampling locations and results are described in the document linked below. Results from the most recent sampling are presented in data boxes with gray shading.
PFAS Short-Term Water Characterization Sample Results Update
RACER Trust to Host Community Meeting on Buick City Environmental Cleanup
RACER Trust will host a community meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 13, at Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle, 930 E. Myrtle Ave., Flint, to provide information about environmental cleanup activities at the former GM Buick City property, including work to identify and address PFAS impacts at the property.
The meeting is open to the public. Representatives from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy; the U.S. EPA; and state and county health departments are expected to attend and be available to answer questions as well.
The meeting will begin with a brief RACER Trust presentation. Following the presentation, small group discussions will give citizens an opportunity to ask questions of state and local officials and RACER in a more informal manner. A summary session will conclude the meeting.
RACER is hosting a bus tour of the former GM Buick City property prior to the community meeting. Seating is limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis until capacity is reached. You must RSVP if you would like to join the bus tour, which will take place from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 13. To RSVP, send an email to Bill Callen at email@example.com, or call (855) 722-3741, no later than 5 p.m. Friday, August 9. No RSVPs will be accepted after 5 p.m. August 9. A seat on the bus is the only way for the public to visit the property. The bus will pick up and discharge passengers from the parking lot of Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle.
For more information about the community meeting or bus tour, please call (855) 722-3741.
What: RACER Trust Community Meeting
When*: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 13
Where: Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle
930 E. Myrtle Avenue (at Industrial)
*Bus tour for confirmed passengers 4:30-6 p.m.
RACER Submits Short-Term Characterization Study of PFAS Discharges
RACER Trust has submitted to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) a short-term characterization study of discharges of PFAS to the Flint River from storm water outfalls associated with the former GM Buick City property.
The report presents a summary of sampling conducted from November 2018 to June 2019 and includes the results from the most recent samples collected on June 5, 2019.
RACER has drafted and submitted to EGLE a work plan to expand the site investigation work, including more sampling to better define site conditions and evaluate possible means to reduce or eliminate PFAS releases to the Flint River.
A community update meeting to discuss environmental conditions at Buick City is in the process of being scheduled, likely in August. RACER will post details to this web page and notify local stakeholders when the meeting time, date and location are confirmed.
The short-term characterization study and RACER’s memo to EGLE can be found at the link below:
https://www.racertrust.org/files/RACER Buick City Short Term Characterization Study 2019.07.15.pdf
Sampling Results Further Delineate PFAS Impacts at Buick City
RACER Trust collected samples during both dry and wet conditions from two storm sewer outfalls to the Flint River that carry water from RACER’s Buick City property, among other contributors. A third storm sewer outfall was sampled under wet conditions only because it had no flow during dry conditions.
The samples were analyzed for PFOA and PFOS, and the results were reported to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Wet-weather samples were collected from seven additional storm sewer locations on June 5. These samples are undergoing laboratory analysis, also for PFOA and PFOS. Results will be reported and posted online after the analyses are complete.
A memo summarizing the results of the April 2019 sampling, as well as describing locations of the June 5 sampling, can be found at the link below.
Outfall 001 005A and 006 Data Evaluation Memo
Results of April Flint River Outfall Sampling
RACER Trust in April collected storm water samples from two outfalls where they discharge to the Flint River. These samples were analyzed and the results are posted in the link below, which also describes the sampling locations, as well as relevant site conditions and historical data.
Outfall 001 and 006 Data Evaluation Memo
Sampling Results Further Delineate PFAS Impacts at Buick City
Results of water samples collected in February from three storm drain systems at RACER Trust’s Buick City property detected PFAS in each of the three outfall drainage areas, at concentrations ranging from 8 ng/L (or 8 parts per trillion) to 2,000 ng/L. Further investigation is ongoing to determine the source of the PFAS in the outfall drainage areas and define an appropriate solution.
There is no indication that any drinking water sources are or have been impacted by PFAS originating from Buick City. It is believed that materials containing PFAS were used by General Motors in its vehicle manufacturing and finishing processes.
Click below to view and download the report RACER Trust submitted to the U.S. EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
Materials for March 14 public meeting
RACER Trust held a public meeting on Thursday, March 14, to discuss environmental activities at its Buick City property in Flint. Materials presented at the meeting can be reviewed or downloaded by clicking on the links below.
RACER Trust to Hold Community Update Meeting on March 14
RACER Trust will hold a public information meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, March 14, to provide the community with an update on our environmental activities at Buick City. This update will include discussion about our most recent test results for PFAS.
The meeting will be held at the Metropolitan Baptist Tabernacle, 930 E. Myrtle Ave., Flint.
RACER Trust Michigan Cleanup Manager Grant Trigger and members of the Buick City remedial team will provide an overview of recent and planned activities at Buick City and answer questions. Personnel from the U.S. EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and state and local health officials who oversee RACER’s work will be present as well.
RACER Trust recently has excavated contaminated soils at the Property and trucked the material offsite for disposal in permitted landfills. The excavations were continuously monitored, as were the trucks as they were loaded and traveled offsite to ensure that all materials were properly managed.
Approximately 2,600 tons of impacted material were removed and completed excavation areas have been properly backfilled.
Results of December Sanitary Sewer Sampling
RACER Trust collected water samples from five locations in the sanitary sewer that flows east along Hamilton Avenue and then combines with the sanitary main from James P. Cole Boulevard in the City of Flint. The purpose was to further assess the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) impacts identified in the sanitary sewers in the vicinity of RACER Trust’s Buick City Property.
Five locations were sampled on December 17. Laboratory analysis found elevated levels of PFOA and/or PFOS on four of the five sampling locations.
Further sampling and investigation of connections to the sanitary sewer will be necessary.
We have reported these results to the U.S. EPA and MDEQ.
Results of storm water sampling, 2011 to present
In response to a citizen inquiry, RACER Trust has posted data for the storm water samples collected in accordance with the terms of RACER Trust's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit since 2011 at its Buick City Property. Links to the reports submitting the sampling results are listed in the “Associated Files” section available here.
Please note: The results below are for samples RACER Trust has collected since assuming ownership of the Property in 2011. Results from sampling prior to RACER Trust’s ownership can be obtained by filing a public information request with the U.S. EPA or the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy.
Additional environmental reports related to Buick City can be found at https://www.racertrust.org/Properties/Detail?Id=12950
Update: Results of November groundwater and storm water sampling for PFAS
RACER Trust collected groundwater and storm water samples in November at several locations on and adjacent to the Buick City Property and at storm sewer manholes and outfalls to the Flint River to further characterize the presence of PFAS at Buick City. The results are presented below, along with links to figures showing where the samples were collected (boxes within the figures show PFAS concentrations at each sampling location). Figure 1 corresponds to the groundwater sampling. Figure 2 corresponds to the storm sewer sampling. Please note: This summary discusses only the perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) results; however, the 24 PFAS analytes included on the Michigan PFAS Minimum Laboratory Analyte List were analyzed. Also, there is no evidence to suggest the municipal water system or private wells have been impacted. The sampled outfalls are downstream from the river’s municipal water intake. Groundwater samples were collected from 14 monitoring wells on the Buick City Property. In addition, storm water samples were collected from 10 locations in what is known as Outfall Drainage Area 003 and at four locations in Outfall Drainage Area 005. The storm water collections were prompted by the discovery in October 2018 of PFAS in a portion of the Outfall Drainage Area 003 storm sewer.
While the Buick City site contributes storm water to each of these outfalls, RACER Trust does not own or control either outfall. Storm water passing through Buick City comingles with storm water from multiple offsite sources and locations.
It is also important to put the site conditions in perspective. Outfall Drainage Area 003 drains more than 400 acres, only about 87 acres of which (or about 21%) are part of the Buick City Property. It is also uncertain where and what, if any, sources on the Buick City site may be contributing to the PFAS in the storm sewer, given that well over a mile and a quarter of storm sewer passes from the City of Flint on the west through the site and offsite to the Flint River to the east.
It is clear from the work performed so far that the site conditions are complicated and no single distinct source of PFAS has been identified – which, as we are learning, is not uncommon. Further work and time is required to adequately understand the PFAS conditions and to define an appropriate course of action.
RACER Trust, working under the oversight of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. EPA, will continue to evaluate data and site conditions with the goal of identifying the next logical locations for the collection of additional data.
Groundwater Sampling Results
The groundwater sampling results are presented on Figure 1 below. The results of the sampling and recommendation for each area are summarized below.
- Northend — Firefighting Training Area (FTA): One off-site monitoring well (MW-10-27) located downgradient of the FTA was sampled. The analytical results did not detect PFOS. PFOA was detected at a concentration of 20 nanograms per liter (ng/L). The sample from MW-10-27 is below applicable criteria.
- Southend — Factory 84 Area: Eight monitoring wells were sampled at the Factory 84 Area. Five monitoring wells (RFI-09-08, MW-84-01D, MW-84-02D, MW-84-03D, and MW-84-04D) are located on the Buick City Property adjacent to the Flint River; three (RFI-84-05, RFI-84-11S, RFI-40-07) are between the CSX right-of-way and James P. Cole Boulevard.
Adjacent to the Flint River:
- At the southernmost monitoring well (RFI-09-48), the analytical results did not detect PFOS. PFOA was detected at a concentration of 20 ng/L.
- Monitoring wells MW-08-01D, MW-84-02D, MW-84-03D, and MW-84-04D detected PFOS at concentrations ranging from 400 to 1,150 ng/L, with PFOA concentrations ranging from 60 to 100 ng/L.
Between CSX right-of-way and James P. Cole Boulevard:
- At monitoring well RFI-84-05, neither PFOA nor PFOS was detected.
- At monitoring well RFI-84-11S, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 90 ng/L. PFOA was not detected.
- At monitoring well RFI-40-07, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 550 ng/L. PFOA was detected at a concentration of 50 ng/L
Southend — Former Building 44 Assembly Paint Shop: Two monitoring wells near the former Building 44 Assembly Paint Shop (Bldg 44) were sampled (MW-04-01 and MW-04-02). At monitoring well MW-04-01, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 250 ng/L. PFOA was detected at a concentration of 40 ng/L. At monitoring well MW-04-02, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 990 ng/L. PFOA was detected at a concentration of 50 ng/L.
Southend — Pickling and Enameling Area: Three monitoring wells (RFI-23-01R, RFI-12-14R and RFI-12-40) were sampled at the Pickling and Enameling Area. At monitoring well RFI-23-01R, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 10 ng/L. PFOA was not detected. At monitoring well MW-12-14R, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 20 ng/L. PFOA was not detected. At monitoring well MW-12-40, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 10 ng/L. PFOA was not detected.
Storm Sewer Sampling Results
As referenced above, a total of 14 storm water samples were collected, including at outfalls to the Flint River, both downstream from the public water intake.
• Outfall Sample Results: Samples were collected from both Outfall 003 and Outfall 005 where they discharge to the Flint River. At Outfall 003, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 120 ng/L. PFOA was detected at a concentration of 10 ng/L. Please note that on the day the samples were collected, a truck not affiliated with RACER Trust or its contractors was observed discharging water to a storm sewer manhole. It is not known whether this would affect sample results. At Outfall 005, PFOS was detected at a concentration of 50 ng/L. PFOA was not
• Outfall Drainage Area 003 Storm Sewer: Samples were collected from nine manholes (MH 3-6, MH 3-18, MH 3-25-7,MH 3-28-4, MH 3-32-1-1, MH 3-32-2, MH3-32-2-1, MH 3-38, and MH 3-52) within the Outfall Drainage Area 003 storm sewer. Results were as follows:
— MH 3-6: PFOS was detected at a concentration of 90 ng/L. PFOA was not detected.
— MH 3-18: PFOS was detected at a concentration of 130 ng/L. PFOA was detected at a
concentration of 20 ng/L.
— MH 3-25-7: PFOS was detected at a concentration of 10 ng/L. PFOA was not detected.
— MH 3-28-4: PFOS was detected at a concentration of 10 ng/L. PFOA was not detected.
— MH 3-32-1-1: Neither PFOS nor PFOA was detected.
— MH 3-32-2: PFOS was detected at a concentration of 30 ng/L. PFOA was not detected.
— MH 3-32-1-2: Neither PFOS nor PFOA was detected.
— MH 3-38: Neither PFOS nor PFOA was detected.
— MH 3-52 Neither PFOS nor PFOA was detected.
• Outfall Drainage Area 005 Storm Sewer: Samples were collected from three manholes (MH 5-1, MH 5-4, and MH5-6) within the Outfall Drainage Area 005 storm sewer. Results were as follows:
— MH 5-1: PFOS was detected at a concentration of 60 ng/L. PFOA was detected at a
concentration of 10 ng/L.
— MH 5-4: PFOS was detected at a concentration of 60 ng/L. PFOA was detected at a
concentration of 10 ng/L.
— MH 5-6: PFOS was detected at a concentration of 70 ng/L. PFOA was detected at a
concentration of 20 ng/L.
Buick City Community Meeting Materials
RACER Trust hosted community update meetings on Wednesday, November 14, and Thursday, November 15, 2018, in Flint to provide information on the status of environmental work at RACER’s Buick City property. Materials presented at the meetings can be viewed and downloaded from this page. We will continue to provide information in response to inquiries or as it becomes available.