Another expensive mess for Ford: Cleaning up its Twin Cities site

Ford's recent Q2 good news shows that it's making progress in cleaning up its own messes. Still, there are plenty of messes that need to be addressed -- a literal one being the land under its Twin Cities production plant in Highland Park, Minnesota. The factory, in use since 1925, will be closed next year. Before Ford can sell the land to developers, the company needs to clean up eight decades of toxic contamination and get the land environmentally certified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) so that its value can be assessed.

There are more than 70 "hot spots" on the 138-acre plot where pollutants including oil, solvents, paint, batteries, gasoline, diesel, lead, ethylbenzene, toluene, and xylenes have contaminated the ground. The startling variety is partly due to the fact that many of the chemicals were dumped on and in the ground before modern environmental regulations prevented such behavior -- like when an unpaved testing track was sprayed with waste oil to prevent dust, standard practice in 1942. Yet those are just the contaminants that Ford knows about. The company is awaiting results of more soil and groundwater samples recently taken.

[Source: Star Tribune via The Truth About Cars]

Ford might not have to, or be able to, remove absolutely everything. The MPCA has to sign off on the job, but it can allow for certain levels of pollution to remain as long as those levels fall within a safe range. And once Ford gets the land cleaned and certified, it will still be liable if any other contaminants are found even after it is sold. No matter what, the cleanup is going to be time consuming and expensive, which has become a familiar refrain of the Way Forward turnaround plan.

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