"Yeah, it is it going to slow it down," he said. "But it is because we are out to keep homeowners from having their property wrongly labeled."
However, in the absence of testing, a parcel or a portion of a parcel of property may be considered a facility if the owner of the property, the department, and a person who is or may be liable under section 20126 for any contamination on the property agree to the designation, in writing based on the presence of hazardous substances in the vicinity of the property.
Proponents of this bill now want to not only delay cleanup but give Dow significant authority over what gets cleaned up. This legislation negates the argument that this is about property rights or homeowners fairness. Nothing is fair about giving the polluter control over your property its cleanup or the safety of your children's immediate environment. Fairness and property rights are smoke screen. The supporters of this legislation were really responding to the special interests of the Chamber of Commerce, the Homebuilders, Real Estate interests and Dow Chemical. Public health, resource protection and property owners being made whole by the cleanup of their properties and the restoration of the river are not even on these folks agenda.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Calls HB 4617 S1 THE POLLUTER RELIEF ACT
The DEQ is opposed to the Polluter Relief Act1 because it would:
1. Shield polluters who want to avoid or delay cleaning up contamination they caused. The Polluter Relief Act could make it easy for them…they just don’t sample affected property and refuse to acknowledge that it is a “Facility.” Unless property is a “Facility,” the liable party doesn’t have to clean up.
Polluters may be unwilling to acknowledge that property is a “Facility” without testing because it amounts to an admission of guilt. Especially if they are concerned about lawsuits from property owners, they won’t be willing to say property is a “Facility” without testing. Because the cost of testing every property is so high, it may mean that even well-intentioned liable parties can’t afford to do what the Polluter Relief Act requires.
2. Cost taxpayers millions for wasteful and unnecessary environmental sampling. The extra cost of sampling every parcel addressed by state-funded cleanup work will be hundreds of millions of dollars.
Where groundwater plumes cover large areas, the state would not be able to provide safe drinking water supplies until every property was sampled. In a typical example, where 80 wells are currently adequate to support cleanup decision-making, 800 additional wells would be required under the Polluter Relief Act.
3. Make homeowners pay to protect their families from contamination on their property if polluters don’t respond.
The Polluter Relief Act changes the balance of power in favor of polluters by creating an opportunity for liable parties to avoid responsibility -- by not sampling homeowners’ property, and refusing to acknowledge it is contaminated. The DEQ doesn’t have resources to police all polluters, and HB 4617 sets up a “David and Goliath” situation between homeowners and polluters who are trying to avoid their obligations.
4. Stymie brownfield redevelopment by reducing the number of sites that are eligible for financial incentives.
Tax incentive and tax credit financing are only available for property that is a “Facility.” Every parcel included in a project would have to be sampled to prove it is a “Facility”. The cost of that sampling is a significant obstacle.
1 The Polluter Relief Act refers to House Bill 4617 (S-1)
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council
Source: Lone Tree Council / TRW
For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee River Watch web site www.trwnews.net. for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga.. The source organization's web site link is listed above. The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.