Lawmakers propose trio of bills to deal with dioxin issue

Kathie Marchlewski, Midland Daily News 04/11/2006

Area lawmakers are trying, trying, trying again to pass legislation they say would protect residential property values and keep science in the forefront as the state and The Dow Chemical Co. work to resolve the issue of local dioxin contamination.

State Rep. John Moolenaar, and Sens. Tony Stamas and Mike Goschka, R-Brant, are proposing a trio of bills similar to one deemed the Homeowner Fairness Act and vetoed by Gov. Jennifer Granholm at the end of 2005.

The latest package, in various stages of introduction, addresses three issues, each separately.

Stamas' contribution proposes that before a privately owned, residential parcel is deemed a "facility" -- that is, an extension of a contaminated site that by state law is required to undergo remediation -- it first must be tested to confirm contamination.

New to the proposal from last year's rendition is Moolenaar's portion. He proposes that cleanup criteria for cancer-causing substances continue to be derived under the state's existing method, unless the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has a different one. In that case, the federally prescribed level would be used instead.

For dioxin, ATSDR has a cleanup action level set at 1,000 parts per trillion, while the state of Michigan has residential contact criteria of 90 parts per trillion.

"When you consider the scientific expertise available at ATSDR versus the scientific expertise available at our Michigan DEQ, it seems to me we ought to rely on the expertise of the federal government," Moolenaar said.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Bob McCann said the comparison is not an equal one. The ATSDR number is not a level that is protective of public health, but the state's is. "It's not meant for a long-term cleanup number," he said. "They use that number as a cleanup level."

In Goschka's portion of the proposal, the DEQ also would be required to use data from peer-reviewed bioavailability and human exposure studies, if available, in remedial action plans and in the development of areawide or site-specific cleanup criteria.

For the Saginaw Valley and dioxin, that would include incorporating results from dioxin-related studies under way by the University of Michigan and by the University of Missouri.

Under the proposal, an entity liable for cleanup also would be allowed to submit for consideration information from studies that have not been peer-reviewed.

Moolenaar hopes the most recent package of bills will make it past the governor's desk. The last passed successfully through both the House and Senate with bipartisan support, but died after her veto.

"She never gave a clear explanation of why she opposed the homeowner fairness bill. We've been asking for that," Moolenaar said. "It's been disappointing to this point. This hopefully allows us to reach a positive, constructive resolution."

DEQ officials and the governor had opposed the bill, saying it would delay cleanups across the state and make them more expensive, hindering economic development.

İMidland Daily News 2006
 


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