Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

Bill would require cleanup of future school sites

By JULIET WANG
Capital News Service

LANSING—A new Senate bill is aimed at keeping schools from being built on contaminated soil.
It would require the owner or operator of a school to conduct an environmental assessment of the property to determine whether a cleanup is required.

Or if the property had a large amount of hazardous substances, no school could be built.

Jeff Minore, chief of staff for Sen. Michael Switalski, D—Roseville, said the proposal was prompted by a front-page article in USA Today about air quality testing near schools.

Hugh McDiarmed Jr., communications director of the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), said, “This bill is one of many tools need to clean up and redevelop new sites. Some poor school districts may want to build a school on contaminated land, so we have to be careful of that.

MEC said polluters should be responsible and pay for any clean up.  “The polluted land won’t do anybody good, it won’t provide jobs or generate revenue. Sitting as vacant land. No good for anyone,” McDiarmed said.

Irvin Poke, director of Michigan’s Bureau of Construction Codes, said. “The bureau has only been regulating school construction since 2003. There is not any requirement to be notified and we don’t do environmental assessments.

“We review the plans for construction and no one is obligated to report to us. If we knew of contamination we would do future investigating, but there is no knowledge of school sites being contaminated,” he said.

Environmental consultation is not the bureau’s responsibility,” said Poke.

The bill is pending in the Senate Education Committee.

Filed under: Education

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