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Story misrepresented progress of site cleanup

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The coverage by the Watertown Daily Times on the North Country Redevelopment Task Force meeting of Aug. 15, especially the gross mischaracterization in the headline, may have created the impression that the RACER Trust questions the sufficiency of remediation funding for the former General Motors property in Massena. If I may, I would like to clarify the record.

While it is difficult to know with certainty the full extent of any subsurface contamination, the RACER Trust has the necessary resources to complete the remediation in compliance with the U.S. EPA’s Record of Decision for the site. We are on budget and working diligently, in coordination with the U.S. EPA, to effectively manage both the technical and the financial performance of the project. The cleanup prescribed by the U.S. EPA will be carried out to completion.

As further clarification, the first paragraph of your story mischaracterized information I provided to the task force with respect to remediation expenditures. The $48 million figure I cited represents anticipated costs through the end of 2013, not the amount spent to date.

I also would like to correct the record with respect to demolition of the buildings on the former GM property. Your report quoted a member of the North Country Task Force as saying, about the demolition, “That wasn’t required by the EPA, and that was a decision made by the trust.” In fact, the U.S. EPA in 2010 issued a unilateral order to the previous site owner, Motors Liquidation Company, for the demolition and disposal of the buildings at the GM plant. It directs, in part, “Proper demolition and disposal of the buildings at the GM Plant, removal of slabs, subsurface tunnels and associated piping at the GM Plant except for piping necessary for continued operation of storm/contact water management systems (and) removal of impacted soil beneath the GM Plant.” RACER Trust assumed MLC’s obligations under that order and subsequently demolished the buildings.

It is unfortunate that your report failed to capture the affirming comments of EPA project manager Anne Kelly, who told the task force that the remediation was being carried out in an orderly and cooperative fashion, with EPA, the RACER Trust and the local contractor working collaboratively and successfully to manage the project in a cost-effective manner.

M. Brendan Mullen

Detroit, Mich.

The writer is New York cleanup manager, RACER Trust.

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