Why people in this michigan suburb say general motors polluted their water supply – big4all.org gas you up


O’Nions and her husband moved to the rural swath of Michigan more than a decade ago, attracted by the striking homes, with their angles and big garages and thousands of square footage, and prospects of a solid school district for their son. To her, it seemed like a place the couple could grow old and retire. They never had a well for drinking water before, she said, so, in August 2005, concerned about the quality, they got it tested for arsenic. All clear. “They’re trying to promote this image of being green and environmentally friendly,” O’Nions said, “and yet they’re not exactly portraying that image to our neighborhood.”

But several months later, they received a letter from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, notifying them of excessive levels of salt in their water. The agency recommended “that we should be drinking bottled water,” O’Nions said. And so they made the switch.

O’Nions is now one of several plaintiffs named in a lawsuit filed last autumn against General Motors, alleging the automaker’s decades-long use of salt on roads and in vehicle tests at the 4,011-acre vehicle testing and development facility has contaminated ground and drinking water supplies for The Oaks.

Nonetheless, since 2015, after notifying residents that salt-contaminated water likely migrated off the proving grounds, GM has made a bi-monthly delivery of bottled water to some homes in the neighborhood, picking up the tab from Michigan’s environmental quality department. (A spokesperson for the environmental agency said GM “completely took over bottle water service in May 2015″ after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had handled it for years.) “We had hoped it was going to be our dream home and a place to raise our family,” O’Nions said. “But it’s just become a chain around our necks just the steps that we have to take on a daily basis.”

And at a time when GM is touting a vision of a cleaner world with zero emissions and plans to introduce 20 new all-electric models in the next five years, O’Nions and her neighbors feel particularly stung by the irony. It’s in their backyard where GM will likely test some of those greener vehicles, while they continue dealing with dead vegetation and trashed household appliances from water allegedly contaminated by the automaker.

The location was ideal. Situated equidistant from major Michigan cities like Detroit, Flint, Lansing, and Pontiac, the hilly countryside locale provided “all sorts of rough and smooth roads with all kinds of surfaces” for tests, as the pamphlet put it. A three-quarter mile concrete loop was laid, a weather observatory was built to send daily reports to every GM division, and garages were constructed to hold the hundreds of cars tested on-site.

Over time, the site expanded to encompass a network of more than 115 commercial and industrial buildings, and over 140 miles of both smooth, pristine roads and trashy dirt drags. Testing went beyond compact cars to include military vehicles and, as of today, vehicles at the site rack up more than 15 million miles recorded annually. It’s also closely associated with GM’s performance cars like the Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette, and industry watchers are often around to try and catch a glimpse of the latest prototype running laps around the track before anyone else can.