States fret over costly factory clean-up

Alisa Roth Jul 21, 2009
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States fret over costly factory clean-up

Alisa Roth Jul 21, 2009
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Bill Radke: There’s an auction today for the assets of the bankrupt auto parts maker Delphi. A lot of people are speculating about who will get what, but Michigan would like to know who is going to clean up the mess. This is a growing worry for states with a lot of failing industry, as Alisa Roth reports.


Alisa Roth: Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality wrote a letter to the bankruptcy judge in charge of Delphi’s case. It said the state wants to be sure the cost of cleaning up old sites is calculated in the price of the company’s assets.

Bob McCann is the agency’s spokesperson:

Bob McCann: The alternative would be that the state becomes the only real liable party left to do that clean-up, and frankly, we don’t have the money for it.

He says what they’re talking about are known as orphan sites. These are old industrial sites that factories leave behind when they close, and they often contain hazardous materials that can leach into the environment. And then the state gets stuck paying to clean them up.

McCann: Well, it’s just the reality of any manufacturing area that we are going to have our share of companies that, due to the economy, are either downsizing or moving away completely.

And with states facing their own budget crises, the last thing they want to do is clean up after somebody else.

I’m Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

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