LANSING, Mich. (Oct. 6, 2021) — Today, Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), with support from Attorney General Dana Nessel, introduced a two-bill package to help victims of PFAS contamination seek justice and to better hold corporate polluters accountable for leaking dangerous chemicals into the environment.
The first bill, Senate Bill 676, would allow the state to seek damages on behalf of the public for emerging contaminants like PFAS at sites where work is already underway to remove other contaminants. Many ongoing contaminant cleanup efforts do not address newly identified chemicals because the extent of their harm has been unknown for decades. The timeframe allowed the State to initiate claims for damages would still be limited to a six-year window, but the clock would start once the onsite work to address the newly discovered contaminant begins.
“Now that we’ve begun to learn the truth about these ‘forever chemicals’ and have responded with stronger drinking water standards, it’s important that we also give Michiganders impacted by this pollution a fighting chance at holding corporations accountable,” Sen. Brinks said. “Taxpayers shouldn’t continue to foot the bill for the cleanup and disposal of dangerous chemicals knowingly used by companies. Implementing a fair discovery rule is the least we can do to help those affected by PFAS seek justice in court, and to honor Michigan’s natural and monetary resources.”
The other bill, Senate Bill 677 would create a “discovery rule” postponing the start of the statute of limitations clock to allow for a more just timeframe. This would allow claimants, who often discover PFAS or have health issues from the toxic chemicals well after they first leached into the environment, to seek relief for a problem caused by no fault of their own.
“I’m glad to see and fully support Sen. Brinks once again introducing this commonsense legislation,” Attorney General Nessel said. “While it was discouraging that these bills went nowhere last session, I remain hopeful the Legislature will recognize the proposed changes would better protect Michiganders and hold accountable those who have jeopardized their health and our environment. I have remained committed to protecting our state’s natural resources and its residents, and these PFAS bills can accomplish both if our lawmakers decide to do what’s best for Michigan.”
The legislation is also supported by the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network, a coalition of people from across the state who have been affected by PFAS and who work together to ensure no other community suffers from the ‘forever chemicals.’
“In Michigan, there are a number of undue legal hurdles for people and communities impacted by PFAS contamination, including statute of limitations rules that are among the worst in the nation,” said Tony Spaniola, co-chair of the Great Lakes PFAS Action Network. “We commend Sen. Brinks for leading on legislation that will make the statute of limitations more fair and equitable for impacted people and communities in our state.”
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