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E-M:/ News Herald -- Editorial re BASF -- Act 307 "hides" problems



http://www.thenewsherald.com/editorial/N01ENK8.asp?ID=129
(URL good through 3-6-2001)

Citizen Letters re Deep Injection Well:
http://www.thenewsherald.com/editorial/N01ENQ2.asp?ID=119

Editorial: Act 307 revisited 

Recent reports of leaks at an old chemical dumping site near the
Riverview Public Boat Launch on the Trenton Channel underscore 
the need for the public to know about such things — and the 
reason state legislation that was enacted six years ago has 
done more harm than good when it comes to dangerous toxic sites.

Before 1995, the state of Michigan published an annual report 
scoring and listing the state’s most contaminated sites. In 
1994, for example, 9,439 violators of the state’s polluters-pay 
law were scored and  listed in the report, published by the 
Michigan Department of  Natural Resources Environmental 
Response Division. 

Included in that list were 139 locations that scored in the 40 to 48
ranges, meaning that they were highly contaminated and a
threat to human health.

Unfortunately, state legislation in 1995 altered such public disclosure.
During wide-ranging changes to Act 307,
the state Legislature eliminated publication of the annual listing and
scoring. The changes were like many that take
place in Lansing: a good idea that ends up turning into a bad one. 

The idea was simple: Target proven polluters
for the liability of contaminated sites and not snare everyone else, so
that problem sites could be redeveloped easier.

Within that debate, many municipal leaders wanted to eliminate 
the yearly public listing and scoring of polluted
sites. They argued that such disclosure was stigmatizing the 
sites, which then became "brownlined" or condemned
from future redevelopment.

According to Dave Dempsey of the Michigan Environmental Council: 
"One of the most dangerous changes in the 1995 amendments 
was the elimination of the annual contamination site listing 
process. This was a deliberate, and ultimately successful, 
strategy to keep the public from knowing about new sites 
being discovered, and the worsening conditions at old sites."

BASF Corp. of Wyandotte owns the old, clay-capped chemical dump near the
Riverview boat ramp. Under the
old Act 307, its condition would have been listed and scored and
published for all to know, possibly as far back
as three years ago when an environmental expert from the company found
leaks at the site. Instead, it was "news"
recently to almost everyone Downriver that the site was leaking. 

The public has a right to know about such things. Downriver is dotted
with such sites. It is an injustice that their
condition is not more closely monitored for public consumption.
Title: The News-Herald - Opinions

Recent reports of leaks at an old chemical dumping site near the Riverview Public Boat Launch on the Trenton Channel underscore the need for the public to know about such things — and the reason state legislation that was enacted six years ago has done more harm than good when it comes to dangerous toxic sites.

Before 1995, the state of Michigan published an annual report scoring and listing the state’s most contaminated sites. In 1994, for example, 9,439 violators of the state’s polluters-pay law were scored and listed in the report, published by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources Environmental Response Division. Included in that list were 139 locations that scored in the 40 to 48 ranges, meaning that they were highly contaminated and a threat to human health.

Unfortunately, state legislation in 1995 altered such public disclosure. During wide-ranging changes to Act 307, the state Legislature eliminated publication of the annual listing and scoring. The changes were like many that take place in Lansing: a good idea that ends up turning into a bad one. The idea was simple: Target proven polluters for the liability of contaminated sites and not snare everyone else, so that problem sites could be redeveloped easier.

Within that debate, many municipal leaders wanted to eliminate the yearly public listing and scoring of polluted sites. They argued that such disclosure was stigmatizing the sites, which then became "brownlined" or condemned from future redevelopment.

According to Dave Dempsey of the Michigan Environmental Council: "One of the most dangerous changes in the 1995 amendments was the elimination of the annual contamination site listing process. This was a deliberate, and ultimately successful, strategy to keep the public from knowing about new sites being discovered, and the worsening conditions at old sites."

BASF Corp. of Wyandotte owns the old, clay-capped chemical dump near the Riverview boat ramp. Under the old Act 307, its condition would have been listed and scored and published for all to know, possibly as far back as three years ago when an environmental expert from the company found leaks at the site. Instead, it was "news" recently to almost everyone Downriver that the site was leaking.

The public has a right to know about such things. Downriver is dotted with such sites. It is an injustice that their condition is not more closely monitored for public consumption.

 

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