Chinese drywall, Arsenic contaminating condos

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities


Two more examples of toxic living environments are the subject of today’s blog.

The biggest question we should be asking is why private property owners must bear the full expense of removing and cleaning up toxic materials, and then rebuilding as necessary.

First, a report of Chinese drywall in a luxury Miami condominium tower. Of course, 500 Brickell is just one of hundreds of condo towers and homes affected by a toxic material that should never have been allowed to enter U.S. ports. Yet it was installed in thousands of condos and homes, and not only in Florida.

Why was there no quality control of home building materials, particularly imports? Where were municipal building inspectors? Could they not detect the odor of sulfuric acid? And how is it possible that our trade agreements with China cannot force their manufacturers to make full restitution for multimillions of dollars in damages? Why is the Chinese government not held accountable for threatening the health of Americans exposed to its toxic drywall?

And as for arsenic contaminated waters and soils in Danvers, Massachusetts, the City of Danvers allowed housing to be constructed downstream from ponds with known arsenic and chromium contamination.

According to the report, the City owns Brown Pond, and is well aware of land use history, with full knowledge of the risk of downstream contamination. So why is it the condo owners’ financial liability to clean up contamination which might have been prevented by building condos far, far away from any possible health threat?

Don’t all Americans pay federal and state taxes to support our Department of Commerce and various Environmental Protection Agencies? How are those tax dollars being spent, if not to actually protect the health, safety, and general welfare of U.S. citizens?

Environmental contamination in residential locations is a preventable, yet relatively invisible crisis affecting millions of housing consumers – from rich to poor, urban and rural dwellers. What is Congress doing about that?


500 Brickell’s condo association sues over Chinese drywall
Suit says the drywall causes corrosion and adverse health concerns

Three years after finding defective Chinese drywall in 29 units at 500 Brickell East, owners in the luxury condo tower are still battling to recover $3.3 million in repair costs from the companies that provided the allegedly corrosive construction materials.
On May 27, the 500 Brickell East Condo Association sued Indiana-based Knauf Insulation, which manufactured and sold the Chinese drywall installed in the 321-unit building, which was built by The Related Group. The association also has a pending 2014 lawsuit against general contractor Facchina McGaughan LLC and subcontractor Caceres Drywall Corp., which obtained Knauf’s Chinese drywall from a Miami importer of construction materials.

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State asks Danvers homeowners for permission to test for arsenic
Unknown if contamination spread to properties of nearby homeowners

Residents who live near Brown Pond and at the Winding Brook Village Condominiums in the area of Purchase and Ash streets are being asked by state environmental officials for permission to go on their properties to see how widespread arsenic contamination might be from a former tannery that was torn down a century ago.

Officials said they want to do further testing, after an initial round turned up arsenic in the soil to the north and east of the pond. The pond property, which is owned by the town, is fenced off, but officials were wondering if the contamination has extended off-site. They were asking residents that night for permission to take samples and offering the necessary forms for anyone who wished to do so.

The plan is to test properties closest to Brown Pond, and if arsenic is found on them, to work outwards. If any arsenic is found, under state law, the respective property owner would be responsible for remediation.

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