Advance Notice: Briefs
Nessel files suit against company over PFAS contamination in West Michigan
Attorney General Dana Nessel, March 5, 2020 | Anna Liz Nichols
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Thursday filed a suit against FKI Hardware, Inc. seeking compliance and damages from the company after contaminating multiple properties with PFAS and other hazardous materials.
According to the Michigan Department of the Attorney General, FKI Hardware, Inc., the successor to the Keeler Brass Co., contaminated multiple properties in West and Southwest Michigan before leaving the state.
Nessel listed nine sites with known or suspected contamination from hazardous substances including volatile organic compounds (VOC); trichloroethylene (TCE); per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and metals.
PFAS, known as “forever chemicals” do not break down easily and have been associated with multiple health issues including, thyroid disease, liver damage and certain types of cancer.
Studies of TCE indicate even short-term exposure can have negative health effects. TCE is known to cause cancer and can also have effects on the central nervous system, immune system and endocrine system.
“Michigan residents deserve to be safe from environmental contamination in their communities,” Nesse said. “Companies that do business in Michigan, pull up stakes and leave their communities with contaminated air and water will pay the price. This lawsuit is another demonstration of my department’s commitment to do what is necessary to hold companies that polluted our environment accountable,” Nessel said.
The lawsuit would require the company to investigate the risks associated with its contamination in the soil and water. In some of the locations, TCE may be present at levels which can cause harmful vapors to seep into the air, creating a health risk.
The Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) demanded FKI Hardware comply with state law for remediation at all nine sites, but the company has not met these obligations.
One site on Godfrey Avenue in Grand Rapids has been identified as an imminent threat to health and the environment. The attorney general and EGLE said more investigations and efforts are needed to reduce health risks of workers and occupants of buildings near former FKI Hardware properties.
“It is critical that companies take responsibility for contamination they caused and that they work with EGLE to achieve full compliance,” Nessel said. “The health of Michigan’s residents and Michigan’s environment are at stake.”
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