STURGIS, Mich. — Health and environmental regulators across Michigan are playing catch-up with industrial chemicals that remain in the ground or water long after initially being discovered.

The state has a list of more than 3,000 vapor intrusion sites, according to The Detroit News . More than 40 percent are in metro Detroit.

Temporary abandonment of homes and properties for vapor intrusion can surprise some owners and tenants, who often don’t know they resided or worked near potentially dangerous pollution sites.

The overwhelming number of locations means state regulators wait to be informed about problems by property owners, complaints from neighbors, environmental assessments required for construction projects or reviews mandated by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Yes, there are thousands of sites, yet we can’t just snap our fingers and evaluate those thousands of sites,” said Michael McClellan, deputy director of environment for the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Environmental officials say they’re fighting toxic vapors with not enough staff or funding. The DEQ hired another three people last year and paid for equipment and lab analysis with the $2.6 million it received from lawmakers to fight vapor intrusion.

Vapor intrusion is only a portion of the state’s environmental issues, which includes the emerging threat of perfluorinated chemical contamination, said Gov. Rick Snyder.

“You can’t do it all overnight,” Snyder said. The state is addressing “the most difficult and the most challenging situations first” before focusing on “a systematic way to take it one after another.”


Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.