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Brighton Township Residents Sue GM Over Water Quality

General Motors
WKAR file photo

A lawsuit alleges that General Motors has contaminated water near a Michigan testing facility since the 1980s and has attempted to cover it up.

Attorneys Edward J. Hood of the Detroit-based Clark Hill law firm and Alexander Memmen of the Chicago-based Memmen law firm filed the lawsuit Thursday on behalf of six Brighton Township residents.

The lawsuit alleges that the Milford Proving Grounds contaminated water with high levels of sodium and chloride. The lawsuit said the facility released thousands of tons of salt over the past 30 years. The 4,000-acre vehicle testing site uses salt for maintenance, water treatment and other vehicle testing purposes.

The lawsuit alleges the company has known about the high concentrations for years but didn't inform regulatory authorities or local residents.

General Motors said the suit doesn't have merit, stating that salt deposits occur in the area naturally and salt is frequently used on the roads during winter.

"Nonetheless, acting as a good neighbor, salt usage at the Milford Proving Ground has been reduced by 60 percent 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," the company said.

Prolonged exposure to high amounts of sodium and chloride can damage the liver and kidney, as well as cause hypertension and high blood pressure, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Memmen said he plans to seek class-action status on behalf of an estimated 100 other residents who may have been impacted by the contamination.

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