Pricey Harrison

Friday, June 10, 2005

Transfer Of Contaminated Property To The State

A controversial proposal, Senate Bill 629, that sailed through the Senate last week was unanimously approved by the House Commerce Committee on Wednesday and would transfer a portion of an inholding in the DuPont State Forest from DuPont Corporation to the state. The bill would take the unprecedented step of requiring the state to take ownership of a knowingly contaminated piece of land, thereby acquiring liability for the contamination (the full extent of the contamination is not yet known) while releasing DuPont from all liability to both the State and third parties. That would be a terrible reversal of the state's long held policy of making polluters pay. It would also require the State to transfer the property to Ilford, a British company of uncertain financial stability. Ilford would "guarantee" a $5,000,000 cleanup, although the Department of Environment and Natural Resources estimates that the cost of the cleanup, based on what is known about the site to date, will exceed $7,000,000 All this would set a very dangerous precedent and is probably unconstitutional in several ways. It is being justified because it would bring 50 to 60 jobs to a depressed area in Transylvania County. This complicated piece of legislation has not received proper scrutiny and the Governor's Office, the Attorney General, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and several environmental groups have serious concerns. Without significant revision, this could be the single worst piece of legislation this session.


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