Bills seek to change way cleanups are conducted

Two recent bills simultaneously introduced into the Michigan House of Representatives and Senate seek to change the way that remedial action is selected. By way of background, remedial action includes such things as cleanup, removal, containment, isolation, destruction, or treatment of a hazardous substance released into the environment. Pursuant to MCL 324.20120a, the MDEQ may approve remedial action in certain enumerated categories:

a. Residential

b. Nonresidential

c. Limited Residential

d. Limited Nonresidential

The MDEQ has developed cleanup criteria for the residential and nonresidential categories. Remedial actions that fall into a limited category generally involve the use of land use restrictions and/or site-specific cleanup criteria. Under MCL 324.20120a, the person conducting the remedial action has the option of choosing the category of it.

House Bill 4212 and Senate Bill 116 would modify the way remedial action is chosen. If enacted, they would require that all remedial action meet the cleanup criteria for unrestricted residential use if technically feasible. If use of the residential cleanup category is technically infeasible, the proposed legislation would require that the category of remedial action that is implemented be the one with the most stringent cleanup criteria that is technically feasible. That standard would appear to take away all or almost all of the discretion to choose the category of remedial action. If passed, this legislation would represent a major shift in the way remedial action is currently being implemented.