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Officials pleased local contractors hired for GM site remediation

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MASSENA — Local leaders are pleased that a contractor from the area has been hired for the next phase of work at the General Motors Powertrain site.

Perras Environmental Control, a family-owned excavating and environmental cleanup company based in Massena, submitted the low bid of $10.2 million for the next phase of remediation at the former GM plant, officials for the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response trust announced Wednesday.

“I’m very happy with the next phase of remedial work being awarded to a local contractor,” said Anthony J. Arquiett, a St. Lawrence County legislator and chairman of the North Country Redevelopment Task Force. “One of the roles of the task force is an ongoing effort to keep as much of the work as possible local.”

Mr. Arquiett noted the previous two contractors RACER hired were not from the area.

Real C. “Frenchie” Coupal, a task force board member, said, “The money will stay here — that’s the key.”

In 2011, the former automotive plant was demolished, and last year saw the removal of the 20-acre, 855,000-square-foot concrete slab at the base of the factory and the contaminated soil beneath it. That $15.3 million job went to D.A. Collins Companies in Wilton, Saratoga County.

The next phase of the remediation will involve the removal of 35,000 to 57,000 tons of contaminated soil along the lagoons between the former GM plant and the St. Lawrence River, according to M. Brendan Mullen, cleanup manager for RACER, the site’s owner. Perras is looking to begin work in March and have it completed by November, Mr. Mullen said.

Project manager Bill Callen said RACER received bids from six contractors, including two local companies. Perras was chosen because it submitted the lowest bid and has experience working at that site, Mr. Mullen said.

“The technical approach they have demonstrated shows they can do the work to get the project done,” he said.

Perras had done excavating work at the site both before and after the plant’s closure in 2009 and is finishing a project to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant at the site.

“They’ve had a presence on the site for years,” said Anne E. Kelly, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency project manager. “They’re always a go-to for work at the GM site.”

Central Trades and Labor Council President Ronald P. McDougall commended RACER for hiring locally.

“It looks like RACER is using their resources toward their ultimate goal of remediation and creating jobs in the area,” Mr. McDougall said.

Legislators said they hope the redevelopment of the site provides a comeback for the region.

“Hopefully we and RACER can turn devastating circumstances, with the closure of the GM plant, into something positive down the road,” Mr. Arquiett said.

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