Statement of Michael J. Keegan, Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes.
Good morning my name is Michael Keegan I reside in Monroe and am chairperson of the Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes.
I have been following Big Rock Point nuclear power plant for 20 years.
This morning I would like to speak briefly on issues of liability as it pertains to the sale of the Big Rock property to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund.
Consumers Energy / CMS have presented the Big Rock Point property as if it were "Greenfield". Greenfield are defined by the (MDEQ 1997) as sites which have not been previously developed and are generally in rural or suburban areas. In principle, these sites are not contaminated and therefore new industrial development on Greenfield may contaminate a new site. While such generalizations are not always true, this is the perception (MDEQ, 1997; Littman, 1998).
Presenters following me will clearly demonstrate and document the case that Big Rock Point is extensively contaminated and as such, does not meet "Greenfield" criteria.
What the Big Rock Point property is then is a "Brownfield" site and here is where the question of liability becomes rather ambiguous. My concern is that the state of Michigan may have exposure to liability if they purchase the Big Rock Point. Under federal standards of RCRA (Resource Conservation and Recovery Act) and CERCLA (Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act) liability rests with the party that contaminated the site. But Michigan law developed in the mid to late 1990's would give the purchaser of property 45 days to establish a baseline (Baseline Environmental Assessment, BEA) with the Michigan DEQ. This baseline data is to serve as a basis from which to evaluate state claims against the landowner (In this case the State of Michigan). The completion of the BEA is largely a private action, with limited state oversight. New owners have full liability for contamination beyond that reported in the baseline assessment. If new owners disturb the land and stir up contamination, they then have liability.
In 1996 Consumers Renaissance Development Company received $250,000 from the Michigan Jobs Commission to develop guidelines for policy consideration of "Brownfield Redevelopment" now a decade later CMS (parent) offers up Big Rock Point for sale to the state, of essentially what is a "Brownfield" site being linguistically detoxified and presented as "Greenfield".
Liability questions remain very ambiguous and these should all be resolved before any consideration of purchase is made. The state of Michigan Trust Fund should not purchase a "Pig in a Poke". The prudent course of action, if the Trust Fund is interested in this property is to have an "Independent Site Characterization" so that the level of contamination is known. Currently there is a asymmetry of information. CMS / Consumers Energy has the information and the state of Michigan does not. I question how a contract could be carried out when there is such a disparity of information.
The proposed cost of $20 million while seemingly a large amount of monies, is nothing compared to the transfer of liability, that is where the exchange is occurring.
Big Rock Point has already spent $366 million in decommissioning costs. The site is still contaminated and I am fearful that a purchase of this land by the state of Michigan could potentially burden the state with hundreds of millions in final clean up costs.
This is a "Pig in a Poke" and now the next presenters will "Let the Cat out of the Bag"
This concludes my remarks.
P.S. Tourist or Terrorist?
P.P.S. Fission Gases vented directly out the stack at Big Rock over 3 million curies. There were other releases as well.
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