Residents in Brighton Township have filed suit in state court to hold General Motors responsible for groundwater contamination, resulting from the Milford Proving Grounds, compromising homes, possessions and health.
According to attorney Alexander Memmen, the contamination has caused permanent environmental damage, affected residents' home values, caused damages to vegetation and landscaping, damaged and corroded personal property and caused health effects, such as hypertension and kidney stones in residents.
The suit alleges that despite reports citing sodium chloride contamination for more than 30 years, GM actively concealed and ignored the level of pollutants leaching into neighboring groundwater and drinking water sources until 2014.
According to the suit, as recently as 2014, when GM finally acknowledged the MPG contribution to contamination, nearby water sources showed levels of sodium and chloride concentrations at 630 mg/l and 1,300 mg/l, respectively, far exceeding residential groundwater criteria of 160 mg/l for sodium and 250 mg/l for total chloride.
The suit details allegations of fraud, violation of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act, negligence, trespassing and public and private nuisances. In addition to a financial settlement, residents are asking the court to compel GM to no longer pollute their neighborhood and for reimbursement for clean-up and repair costs.
GM said in a statement that this lawsuit "does not have merit."
GM does not believe this suit has merit. Salt deposits naturally occur in this area, and salt is also used on the many nearby public roads during winter. Nonetheless, acting as a good neighbor, salt usage at the Milford Proving Ground has been reduced by 60% over the last two decades and GM submits regular reports on the groundwater quality at the Milford Proving Ground to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.