FLINT (WJRT) (8/14/2019) - A symbol of Flint's automotive decline could be a vital piece of the city's recovery, but not before it's cleaned up.
When General Motors went into bankruptcy, a trust was formed to try to turn former automotive properties around. One of the largest properties is Flint's former Buick City.
As investors eye the property and the cleanup continues, the community got a first-hand look in the secure site on Tuesday evening.
One by one, more than two dozen people packed the tour bus Tuesday night outside the Metropolitan Baptist Church.
The guide for the tour of the former GM Buick City was Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response (RACER) Trust Michigan Cleanup Manager Grant Trigger.
"Our goal is to give you a sense of the size of the Buick City site and show you some of the things that are ongoing on this site," Trigger said.
This two-mile-long piece of property has changed a lot over the years. Buicks once drove smoothly off the assembly line, but the property is now bumpy and serves as a parking lot for GM pickup trucks waiting to head out to dealers.
RACER Trust was created by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to clean up and help find investors for property abandoned by GM. At Buick City, they already have two success stories.
"One is the SpiralWell facility on the north end of the site and another is Lear on the south end of the site," Trigger said.
That progress came to a stop when they discovered high levels of PFAS, a toxic chemical known to cause cancer. Since then, they've found more high-level spots and want to know if there are any more.
The only stop on tour was a sewer drain that goes under the former GM property that then empties into the Flint River.
Trigger says this one of close to a dozen spots known to have high levels of PFAS.
"Yeah, it's old GM stuff that we are dealing with," Trigger said.
Racer Trust has $21 million left to spend on the cleanup effort with investor Mahindra Automotive North America already showing interest.
Mahindra hopes to secure a contract from the U.S. Postal Service to build delivery vehicles and bring 2,000 new jobs to Flint. Trigger said this would be the single largest investment they've seen in Michigan.
"Mahindra plans are still being developed. I can't give you any specifics. All I know is that they are interested in this site and we are going to do whatever we can to make them successful," Trigger said.
He said they're still collecting more samples to see how more extensive the PFAS problem is on the site. He plans to reveal more information in the fall.