Should a property owner know if a contractor is placing a four-foot thick bed of toxic industrial waste below their businesses’ new parking lot? Should a homeowner know if the same industrial waste is going underneath the road in front of their home? Should you be informed if industrial byproducts are present on a parcel of property you are buying?
Not under bills being considered in the Michigan legislature that allow for expanded use of industrial byproducts – like fly ash from coal-fired power plant smokestacks, foundry sands, and sludge from pulp and paper mills.
Under these bills, no permission would be needed from property owners before industrial byproducts can be used as construction fill or for road beds or in parking lots. Current owners would be left in the dark, and future owners may never know of the liability inherent in the properties they purchase. In many cases, that fill should permanently alter what that property can be used for in the future to protect public health.
The Michigan Environmental Council supports the reuse of industrial by-products 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. That is not the case with House bills 5400, 5401 and 5402.
A vote in the House Natural Resources Committee is currently scheduled on the legislation this Thursday, April 17. Please contact your local legislator and ask them to oppose HB 5400 through 5402 until these concerns can be addressed.
Our number one concern is the failure of the bills to require people who use these materials to get permission from property owners. The bills allow impairment of property rights, without permission from the landowner or compensation for the restrictions on the future uses of the property.
Other issues include: