Delta Township residents raise health concerns over GM battery plant

The upcoming GM electric vehicle battery plant is expected to bring about 1,700 jobs to Mid-Michigan, but people living next door have a few concerns.
Published: Oct. 18, 2022 at 10:41 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2022 at 11:14 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The new GM Electric Vehicle Battery Plant will bring about 1,700 jobs to the area. People living next door to the facility in Delta Township have a few concerns. They’re worried about what it will do to the environment.

Will their water be contaminated? Will toxic chemicals be released into the air? What happens to their property value? These are just some of the concerns residents near the Ultium Cells battery plant want addressed.

“We just haven’t been able to get, I guess, real, concrete answers from GM, from Ultium batteries, or from Delta Township,” said Nicole Leitch, who lives across the street from the battery plant.

She said she reached out to the battery plant and the township supervisor asking what type of chemicals would be used in the plant – she hasn’t received a response.

“They indicate that they are doing everything that they can do to ensure the safety of our water. But they can’t specifically tell us what they’re doing,” said Leitch.

Leitch said U.S Fish and Wildlife informed the community that when living next to a lithium battery plant, residents should have their water tested twice a year. “And not just regular water testing, you have to test for metals and lithium – lithium is extra.”

Mary Ann Wagner lives just north of the battery plant. She said because the community is on a well, residents were also told to get a base line water test. Wagner said she’s already ordered the test.

Wagner, like Leitch, is also concerned about what’s going into the air “even though they have complied with all of the rules that they’re supposed to comply by.”

Being offered exterior home power washing by the Ultium Cells battery plant only raised more questions in Mary Ann’s mind.

“We have been offered, by Ultium and GM, that they’ll come out and power wash our houses every quarter. And it’s sort of suspicious that they would offer to do that if there were no concerns about what was in the air. So that was kind of a red flag for us,” said Wagner.

Nicole and Mary Ann both went to an Ultium Cells informational session in June. After that, the plant requested to meet with individual households to address their concerns.

“I did reach out to Fish and Wildlife and they were the ones that were telling me all the details about the impact on the environment and the creatures that live there, reached out to the health department. I’m getting the contact information for Delta Township, I’m going to reach out to them. The sad part about is, it’s pretty much a done deal – the plant is going up,” said Wagner.

Ultium Cells has submitted an air permit and they are working with the Delta Township Planning Board to submit chemical reports and emergency response plans.

News 10 reached out to both GM and the Delta Township Supervisor. Neither responded.

UPDATE: Ultium Cells sent News 10 a statement outlining its efforts to address concerns. In the statement, Ultium Cells says it “is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Lansing community. We have made local contacts with various community stakeholders including local schools, community colleges, universities and community members. We have also conducted proactive information meetings with our neighbors on what to expect during construction and the future operations of the facility and remain open for communication. Ultium Cells strives to be a good neighbor, partner and employer for the greater Lansing community.”

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