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Bills would allow use of hazardous materials without landowner's consent

Apr 30, 2014
April 30, 2014

Bills would allow use of hazardous materials without landowner's consent Property owners could have hazardous industrial byproducts placed on their land without their consent under legislation being considered this week in the Michigan House of Representatives.

HB 5400, 5401 and 5402 would allow expanded use of industrial byproducts including fly ash from coal-fired power plant smokestacks, foundry sands and sludge from pulp and paper mills. Those materials are regulated as solid waste under existing Michigan law.

Under the proposed legislation, they could be reused for a variety of purposes, including as construction fill and in beds up to four feet thick for roads and parking lots. The bills limit the use as construction fill to properties that are nonresidential now and will remain that way. They do not require people who use the byproducts to obtain prior consent from property owners before using the materials on their property.

"These bills essentially allow a contractor to use hazardous materials under your parking lot and limit the property's future use without your permission," said James Clift, policy director for the Michigan Environmental Council. "People need to be provided full and accurate information upfront. These bills unfortunately hide critical information from the landowner until it's too late."

The Michigan Environmental Council supports the reuse of industrial byproducts when protection of public health can be assured and use of the materials is monitored and tracked in a way that reasonably controls public exposure to materials in the future. It is important to evaluate not only the immediate impact of each use, but also its effects over time and whether protections for public health are maintained.

James Clift: 517-256-0553
Andy McGlashen: 517-420-1908
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