Is GM's $1.1 Billion Closed Factory Cleanup Fund Enough? Hidden Bailout On Its Way?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

We sounded the alarm on the cost of cleaning-up abandoned automotive manufacturing sites before the bailout began. We sounded the alarm after the feds instructed GM set aside $1.1 billion to clean its 14 closed plants (so far). Although $78,571,428.60 per plant seems more than merely adequate, it may not be so. Reporting on the clean-up of GM’s Mansfield-Ontario Stamping Center, The Mansfield NewsJournal does a little comparative analysis. “At Ohio Brass, which, at 10 acres, was a small fraction of the size of the 270-acre stamping plant, that number [for the cost of the cleanup] was $2 million.” Extrapolating, that would be a $54 million laundry bill. BUT, it’s dwarf apples to “Rainy with a Chance of Meatballs” sized oranges. Many of GM factories stretch back decades, before there was anything remotely resembling environmental awareness or, more to the point, an EPA. Of course, a description of the pollutants at the plant would be very helpful in making a cost assessment. New “transparent” GM says uh-uh.

Local officials hold out hope they can persuade a buyer to purchase the site and assume many of the risks and costs. If they can’t, it’s difficult to know what environmental dangers may be uncovered. GM representatives won’t comment other than to direct reporters to bankruptcy filings, which don’t contain the records the state EPA will seek when GM officially announces the closure.

GM says don’t worry, be happy.

“I will make certain (GM chief restructuring officer Al Koch) reaches out when we wind down the operations,” Tim Lee, GM’s vice president for global manufacturing, said Friday.

Then again, why wouldn’t he?

According to state EPA guidelines issued in 1998, GM must do an environmental survey when it officially sets a closure date: completely fencing in the site, listing all known hazardous substances and disposing of those within three months. But the EPA directives don’t have the force of law, and while the worst sites are given Superfund money, a federally-financed program to mediate environmental disasters, many cases end up in the hands of local taxpayers.

In other words, if the costs of GM’s cleanup efforts top $1.1 billion, the rest will come from the taxpayers’ pockets from another funding source. How great is that? And what of Chrysler and Ford’s extraneous plants?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • 50merc 50merc on Aug 03, 2009

    In all fairness, it should be mentioned that the city of Mansfield and the state of Ohio were the main beneficiaries of the prosperity generated by those plants for many years. Also, ranchers in Montana sold beef and farmers in Mississippi sold cotton at whatever prices the commodity markets yielded, but GM, Ford, Chrysler and the UAW enjoyed the advantages of having the pricing power of an oligopoly and monopoly, respectively. That boosted the the net transfer of wealth from other regions. But things changed, leaving wreckage behind.

  • AWD-03 AWD-03 on Aug 03, 2009
    tooling designer : This is what you wanted. So this is what you get. Enjoy the mess! You aren't going down that tired road of, "TTAC hates domestics!" are you? This site isn't about hating domestics, they are the cars most of us fell in love with back in the day. This site just points out mis-management and missed opportunities as well as what they get right. Which for GM has been about 90% f-up 10% ok to good. This mess here isn't a surprise and doesn't really represent anything different than any other large manufacturing company that has existed this long. It doesn't even matter that they went through bankruptcy, these messes always get paid for by the taxpayer.
  • Kwik_Shift_Pro4X Another Hyunkia'sis? 🙈
  • SCE to AUX "Hyundai told us that perhaps he or she is a performance enthusiast who is EV hesitant."I'm not so sure. If you're 'EV hesitant', you're not going to jump into a $66k performance car for your first EV experience, especially with its compromised range. Unless this car is purchased as a weekend toy, which perhaps Hyundai is describing.Quite the opposite, I think this car is for a 2nd-time EV buyer (like me*) who understands what they're getting into. Even the Model 3 Performance is a less overt track star.*But since I have no interest in owning a performance car, this one wouldn't be for me. A heavily-discounted standard Ioniq 5 (or 6) would be fine.Tim - When you say the car is longer and wider, is that achieved with cladding changes, or metal (like the Raptor)?
  • JMII I doubt Hyundai would spend the development costs without having some idea of a target buyer.As an occasional track rat myself I can't imagine such a buyer exists. Nearly $70k nets you a really good track toy especially on the used market. This seems like a bunch of gimmicks applied to a decent hot hatch EV that isn't going to impression anyone given its badge. Normally I'd cheer such a thing but it seems silly. Its almost like they made this just for fun. That is awesome and I appreciate it but given the small niche I gotta think the development time, money and effort should have been focused elsewhere. Something more mainstream? Or is this Hyundai's attempt at some kind of halo sports car?Also seems Hyundai never reviles sales targets so its hard to judge successful products in their line up. I wonder how brutal depreciation will be on these things. In two years at $40k this would a total hoot.So no active dampers on this model?
  • Analoggrotto Colorado baby!
  • Rob Woytuck Weight is also a factor for ferries which for instance in British Columbia, Canada are part of the highway system.