WUOMFM

Environmentalists oppose changing rules on pollution clean-up

Dec 19, 2014

Crews remove contaminated soil from yards in St. Louis, Michigan. Pollution has gotten into soil and water. A chemical plant closed decades ago is the source.
Credit Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to sign legislation that changes pollution clean-up procedures in Michigan. Senate Bill 891 is backed by the Department of Environmental Quality and the Michigan Chamber of Commerce.

The DEQ argues too much money is being wasted by the costs of cleaning up inconsequential amounts of pollution. The agency says it should assess risks to human health and use more cost-effective methods when determining pollution clean-up requirements. Leaving some contaminants behind in an area not used by people would allow the agency to deal with more of the clean-ups that do threaten public health, the agency believes.

The Michigan Environmental Council represents environmental advocacy groups throughout the state. It feels the changes would weaken environmental protections and let polluters off the hook too easily. It gives the example of leaving contaminants in soil. That pollution might not pose an immediate threat to people, but when it eventually gets into groundwater, it could migrate and contaminate drinking water or get into the Great Lakes.