Bill would drop 'facility' designation

Kathie Marchlewski, Midland Daily News 01/17/2005

State Sen. Tony Stamas and State Rep. John Moolenaar are in the beginning stages of drafting legislation that could relieve Saginaw Valley homeowners of disclosure requirements associated with dioxin contamination.

The two plan to have the proposal prepared and ready for action in upcoming weeks, potentially in response to the remediation agreement under discussion between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and The Dow Chemical Co.

The legislation would exclude residential properties from a "facility" designation. Under Part 201 of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act 451 of 1994, a "facility" is defined as any piece of property contaminated with a hazardous substance at a level greater than the state standard.

The law requires facilities' owners to disclose contamination information to potential buyers. Activities on the property that would spread or disrupt the contamination are prohibited.

Along the Tittabawassee River, flood plain property within the 100-year flood plain -- including about 2,000 homes -- is expected to be contaminated beyond the state standard and owners have been notified of the "facility" designation and its implications. Comprehensive soil testing has not been completed in Midland, but tests from the 1980s and 1990s show that levels higher than 90 ppt are likely to exist in the north and northeast portions of the city. The City of Midland estimated in May that nearly 9,000 homes could have dioxin levels higher than the state criteria based on the DEQ's speculation that dioxin from historic airborne emissions could have traveled as far as two miles from the Dow site.

"We hope to clarify the term and ensure our region is not unfairly penalized by the DEQ," Moolenaar said. "We believe the law is being applied in a way it wasn't intended."

Stamas and Moolenaar are welcoming input from others as they develop language for the legislation that is expected to address a variety of scenarios regarding application of the law. "We're hoping we can lift this negative classification and preserve the original intent of the law," Moolenaar said.

He said the existing law was not intended for application to residential properties, but instead for industrial properties with contamination issues.

The legislation Stamas and Moolenaar are crafting would be the second they've attempted in response to the local dioxin situation. In May, the two introduced Senate Bill 1276 and House Bill 5963, with hope that the state's residential direct contact criteria be lifted to 1,000 ppt, the federal government's action level, until scientific evidence better defined safe or unsafe levels of the manufacturing byproduct.

©Midland Daily News 2005

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 Reader Opinions:

Lori Franson Jan, 18 2005
The attempts by the Senator and State Representative to get
dioxin contamination, as defined by the State, omitted from mandatory
disclosure by property owners to buyers is reprehensible.

Quite interesting to me is that the DEQ is somehow being viewed
as the perpetrator of the negative consequences of the contamination. The
priority regarding the contamination appears to be preventing adverse
financial consequences verses protecting public health.

The reasons for mandatory disclosures of contamination are to
protect public health and ensure the presence of informed consent (ability
to evaluate risk/benefit). Property owners are required to disclose the
presence of radon,lead, and mold (at least where I came from)to buyers. The
phrase in the MDN, "drafting legislation that could relieve Saginaw Valley
Homeowners" places the focus on the legislation proposed as something that
will prevent a burden to property owners wanting to sell their property
verses the resulting omission of information and it's potential health
consequences.
 

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Lady Mangun Jan, 17 2005
Perhaps these legislators should have gotten the word the
first time they tried to run this red herring past the Michigan legislature
and failed. This is an abomination and must be stopped. The whole thing
stinks of week old fish laying in the summer sun. It is screaming more
coverup and corruption.
 

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Jim Arby Jan, 18 2005
Couldn't agree more. It is unethical for people not to
disclose about their property. Shame on these two elected officials. DEQ and
the law are not the problem. Dow Chemical is the problem and so are Midland
City leaders who cannot turn around without asking for Dow's permission.
Time for the people of Midland to think for themselves.
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Fred Stoll Jan, 17 2005 These two are so willing to protect Dow at the expense of the public. In my opinion it is beyond shameful.

What would really help us property owners, is to get the dioxins removed from our property. Not some new law that is nothing more than an attempt to cover up the problem.

Why would any elected officials be willing to sacrafice future buyers of the these properties, how does that help resovle the problem? It seems nearly criminal.

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Kathy Henry Jan, 17 2005 These Midland politicians are absolutely shameful. I would think the law is in place to protect the public. To draft a bill so that real estate owners and realtors could defraud potential buyers by failing to disclose problems on property is insane. These two need to be recalled from office. Just shameful!

 


For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawasse River Watch web site www.trwnews.net for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga. . The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.