By Brendan Felix
House bill 1610 is a bill that is being sponsored by State representative Jim McConnell, and Mindi Messer. If this bill is passed, It would allow for realtors to disclose the location of possible contamination sites, or areas with high levels of MTBE a chemical that was used in the mid-1900s to combat smog. The bill will require that any sites that contain contaminants, weather its a dump or a gas station for example, within a 1-mile radius, must be disclosed. If Bill 1610 passes into the law it would require that the Sellers now have to disclose more information at the homeowners expense. This may affect the overall state of the housing market in New Hampshire but would really benefit the citizens of New Hampshire that are not being given the whole truth. “Essentially, the real estate agent is required to disclose to the buyer only what was manifestly obvious or what you, as the seller, actually mentioned about the property” (Farkas 2018).
I believe that 1 mile might be too great of a distance, and quite honestly the information that the bill possesses is perhaps is already aware to most New Hampshire residents. Nonetheless the issue of clean drinking water is one that must be addressed nationwide and must be drawn to people's attention. Although this bill may only help isolated cases, such as the issue with MTBE that is occurring in Swanzey, I do support the bill. I am weary that the bill passing will have an impact in cleaning up this long-standing issue of water contamination in New Hampshire.
Realtors can get away Farkas, B. (n.d.). Selling a New Hampshire Home: What Are My Disclosure Obligations? Retrieved February 05, 2018, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/selling-new-hampshire-home-what-are-my-disclosure-obligations.html
Crompton, J. (2017, October 05). W. Swanzey residents sue oil companies over additive in water. Retrieved February 05, 2018, from http://www.wmur.com/article/w-swanzey-residents-sue-oil-companies-over-additive-in-water-1/5212437
By Robert Holub
House Bill 1610 basically states that if a known environmentally hazardous site is within a mile of a residence, in the event of a house sale, the seller has to disclose this information to the buyer. This bill puts all the responsibility on the seller, and leaves them liable for testing costs. At its heart, I completely agree with the movement of this bill and support its way through the house and hopefully into state legislation. However, how it is currently written, I would not vote it into legislation today. I was fortunate enough to attend the committee meeting in Concord on this bill, when members of the House first heard this bill and stakeholders were able to make their points. At this meeting, I was able to understand the viewpoints of the real estate agency, and a lawyer from some big chemical company spoke as well, although her arguments seemed less valid to me, and more geared towards finding loopholes. Anyway, the head of the real estate association stated that a one mile radius would be far too large of a distance, with it projecting to affect up to 70% of homes on the seacoast of New Hampshire. While you can speak for difficulties that would arise in the real estate market, I was more intrigued by this fact because of the sheer number of people that would be affected. If the legislation was passed as written, real estate agents and sellers could state “yes this home is affected, but so are 70% of these homes, so it’s okay.” This creates a narrative that hazardous waste possibly affecting groundwater is okay, which I do not support. This large distance creates loopholes, and it also brings focus away from the real task of this bill. This bill wants to pinpoint affected homes and be sure that potential buyers are aware of the risks. This bill as written would have homes both a mile away and 500 feet away from a hazardous site as both exhibiting the same risk of groundwater infection, which is simply untrue. I would rather the bill be rewritten to a few thousand feet (which can be negotiated by stakeholders and members of the house) so that homes that will actually be affected by groundwater infiltration will be tested, rather than many homes be tested for no reason. I also would accept a change in having the buyer and the seller of the home share costs of testing, but again that is something that could be negotiated by stakeholders and members of the house so this bill can be sent through to legislation. It is more important that this bill get into legislation than we squabble over who pays for what. Safe drinking water is essential, and I think shared cost is a fine compromise to make sure this gets done. This bill is very important and I am very much in support of its progress, however I believe it should be rewritten at the moment.
By Taylor Mathieu
I am student at Keene State College in New Hampshire studying Occupational Health and Safety Science with an Environmental Science minor. I admire the environmental department at my school for its constant stake in on going problems. The class Environmental Governance that I am currently taking has brought light to current issues with drinking water pollution across the of New Hampshire, specifically the southern half. The House Bill 1610 wants to protect citizens home buyers and homeowners within one mile of hazardous sites. For example, solid waste facilities, old spill sites, salvage yards, environmental monitoring sites, hazardous waste generators, underground fuel storage and more. I truly believe that a lack of shared information is killer and should be part of the past. The sad part is that so many do not even know what types of contamination they are living on. I am definitely a stakeholder as an New Hampshire citizen and this is a bill that every should agree on. Cancer accounts for 25% of deaths in New Hampshire and I believe bills like 1610 could have a positive impact on that number.
The bill 1610 was sparked by illness reports coming from Swanzey, New Hampshire, a possible site with a clustering of disease. Most commonly cancer. The bill was also inspired by many other towns across the state with poor water issues, like Litchfield New Hampshire. When personally researching the the water problem I found that the citizen and illness representation was a major part of the problem. People living in problem areas can be poorly informed. If there is a water contamination issues the state may not consider it one because of insufficient census information, poor water sampling data, proper address and post office box information. When you cannot tell where health problems are coming from, getting the proper scope on the situation is much harder. That did not stop weary citizens from catching on to the hazards around them. This house bill was made by citizens to protect citizens.
Once my mind had stopped thinking about Swanzey New Hampshire, I started thinking about my home town in Northern New Hampshire. Just a half mile into the woods behind my home is an old quarry. What oils may have been dumped there. A half mile across the street is a massive quarry that has been operating for 150 years. Has there been contamination there? The neighborhood is on a private well. Are all the dangerous chemicals found at sites like the ones around my home part of our annual water test? I could not say for sure myself. Every state should have the right to know and New Hampshire should not be last in the race. I hope the best for this legislation and would one day like to see it taken to the next level. The more you know the moe you can protect yourself.
By Stefan Lazaro
In class, we have been reviewing the House Bill: 1610. This bill requires sellers of real property to disclose certain information concerning environmental hazards. I am fully supportive of this bill. However, I have a few recommended revisions for this bill. To start off, I would decrease the one-mile radius that is required and reduce it to a half of a mile. Reducing this distance would make the investigation process more efficient. In the meeting reviewing this bill, a man brought up a good point that some houses regardless of the location of waste facilities, are not at risk because of their elevation in comparison to the facility, and I feel as though this reduction of required radius would eliminate more instances where elevation plays a role. In this bill, a popular chemical named PFC’s (Perflourinated Chemicals) is emphasized to be tested for, but the bill does not emphasize other common and hazardous substances which I think should be included. I would also suggest that the role of the seller to disclose information should be changed to the original realtor, and if they no longer exist, the current seller takes on the role.
I think this bill is extremely important because it is in moral interest to provide a buyer with all the details of their product. When selling a car, the seller should not leave out that the breaks are dysfunctional. However, a data base system needs to be made by the state that maps all current and previously existing facilities, including their time of construction through destruction, that is publicly accessible. Many people are unaware of hazardous sites located near them and do not have access to this information.
Due to property owner’s not being at fault for the contamination of their property by waste facilities, the state should be responsible for conducting the testing required for the seller to disclose. The state should not reimburse sellers for loss in property value due to contamination of property by state.
I think it would be helpful, but not necessary, to add the levels of PFC’s acceptable on a property as well as other popular contaminants. When lobbying the bill, a woman brought up that the bill lacks to define what levels of PFC’s are being tested for. This could cause problems for property sellers who have trace amounts of PFC's that are still considered safe levels which would still decline the value of the property.
By Nick DeCarolis
The proposed house bill 1610 is a very important piece of legislation that should be passed. This piece of legislation will benefit all home buyers and future buyers. This house bill requires the seller of a residential property to disclose all information about possible contaminants on the property to the buyer of the property. This is very important to all home buyers to insure their wellbeing if they were to purchase a residential property. I am in full support of this legislation; in the future I and many others will purchase properties and I and the rest of the world will want to know about any harmful materials or contaminants that are on a property of interest. I’m sure many can agree that prior to purchasing anything, whether it be a property or not, the buyer should have the right to know of anything that may bring harm to the buyer from no fault of their own.
This piece of legislation reminds me of the disclosed information you can obtain from harmful things such as cigarettes, alcohol, and household cleaning chemicals. Many more comparisons can be made of different types of materials and chemicals; but it is absolutely the buyer’s right to know of the harmful effects any product might cause to them. This critical information is important to many more than just the buyer. The buyer of any chemical, object, property, etc; should be concerned with the wellbeing of more than just themselves, but their families and others that they care about. A family moving into a new home while finding a place that is the best fit for their family should also search for a home that will keep both themselves and their loved ones safe.
This legislation was moved forward from a case in Swanzey New Hampshire. Many residents of this small New Hampshire town were beginning to become inflicted with cancerous diseases from MTBE in their water supply. This chemical was introduced to these peoples water supply years ago as a result of a leak from a local gas station. Many of these residents have been trying to help vocalize the problem through the media and become supporters of house bill 1610 which would ensure future buyers of these properties do not suffer the same as they have.
I am sure that the rest of the world will stand with me in support of this piece of legislation. This legislation is important to all that owns a property or will own a property in the future. To stand with this legislation is an act of good faith and follows good ethics for all of those who you share the world with. To not support this legislation means this person do not care about the cancerous diseases that others families could become inflicted with because of their neglect to inform that buyer about the contaminants within the property. Looking at both the case in Swanzey New Hampshire and theoretical cases around the world I’m sure that you the reader, and the rest of the world can agree that passing this piece of legislation is critically important to the wellbeing of all.
By Isaac Thompson
One of the documents we have reviewed in class was the House Bill 1610. This is a bill that is being proposed and written up in New Hampshire this year. The general idea of this bill is that the seller of a house must disclose information to the buyer about all sorts of environmental hazards within one mile of the property. Currently it is stated that the buyer must research all of the information on their own if they wish to know about these issues. In my opinion this bill is an excellent idea and I am definitely for it, but only after it sees some minor revisions. I believe that the extent of one mile is far too long of an area to search, especially in densely populated areas. My suggestion would be to reduce this distance to perhaps a quarter mile. One other issue that a mile radius shows is that this requires the seller to examine the properties of many individuals nearby. Some people might not want to share all of this information to just anyone. While I am in support of the seller disclosing information I think that some people might be dishonest in presenting information. If there are lots of environmental issues around a property, it would be less appealing to the buyer. So in order to make their property easier to sell and more expensive, it would not be difficult to hide some information. Additionally, not only does distance play a role in how contaminants damage soil, but areas more downhill would be affected more than those uphill, which might not be affected at all. This in something that the bill does not take into consideration. One issue that was brought up during the presentation of this potential law was the mention of a specific website on the bill. This website is OneStop Data Mapper. It was highly discouraged by the House to mention a specific website. Some issues with that could include privacy concerns due to this is a specific website. Another issue could be what happens if this website goes down or loses funding. It is crucial that everyone has access to this site and if it goes down there would be a huge issue with this bill. It has been expressed that this website is not the easiest to use, and having briefly poked around it myself, I would have to agree. My last issue with the bill would be that some of the hazards listed be slightly more specific. For example what would be defined as an auto salvage yard or are there any specifications about the underground storage tanks that must be identified? These things would have to be defined alongside the bill or at least be able to be looked up by the public to find out specifics. If this information is all collected together by one place then i would say this bill should be passed. All in all, I think that this bill is a great idea as long as minor revisions are made. If it is allowed that OneStop can be specifically mentioned and is made more user friendly then I would support that. Some of the environmental hazards need to be made more specific and the radius of one mile should be reduced to a smaller distance. If all three of these are met I would not see any issues with House Bill 1610 and be in full support of it.
By Lindsay Penn
The bill we looked at, HB1610, requires sellers of real property to provide notice to buyers of environmentally hazardous sites within one mile of the property, and to disclose water test results if a source of MTBE or perfluorinated chemicals is identified within one mile of the property.
I agree with the overall concept of the bill however; I feel there are many spots that require revision. While the bill proposes some good regulations to be put in place, I do not have much faith in it passing due to how strict these regulations are.
The first part of the bill I would revise states the disclosure of hazardous sites within a mile of the property is mandatory. In the state of New Hampshire, a large percentage of properties in urban areas, and those along the shore would be required to disclose they are within a mile of a hazardous waste site. However, some of these hazardous waste sites may have no impact on the water quality of the property and some may. It is important that the buyer know this information. If all the properties they are looking are within one mile, then they might become desensitized to this information.
After listening to how those responded to the bill when it was presented to the committee in Concord, I think who pays for the water test should be discussed. The relators as expected are strongly against the seller paying for the water test. The relator also had a very strong argument. It is my belief that a compromise should happen regarding who pays. Either requiring the buyer to, or splitting the costs 50/50 between buyer and seller.
I strongly agree though, no matter who pays, that the water should be tested. It is not adequate enough to leave the safety of the water up to the seller to disclose any knowledge he/she might have.
By Samuel Czel
A piece of legislation we have discussed so far this term includes House Bill 1610. This bill was proposed and introduced by State Senator Jim McConnell. This bill discussed that home owners in New Hampshire, should and must disclose more information when selling their home and property. Through researching this topic, we learned that currently, homeowners in New Hampshire must only disclose a handful of information, typically regarding asbestos, argon and lead. This bill would require further information be disclosed such as Superfund sites in the area. While I am not currently a resident of New Hampshire I do believe that everywhere, people should be informed as to what they are purchasing.
Jim McConnel spoke to us and informed us that in the West Swanzey area, people of all ages were becoming ill and were often diagnosed with miscellaneous types of cancer. After researching this he learned there was a Superfund site in the immediate area, that was most likely the cause of these events. Unfortunately, the area effected has failed to be classified as a cancer cluster in the state of New Hampshire. Cancer clusters are known as areas that high diagnoses of cancer occur. While it is suspected that this Superfund site can and will continue to develop more events like these, nothing can be done about it currently.
This bill Jim McConnell has proposed has my support. If a potential home owner or their family has the potential to be impacted negatively by events that happened prior to their purchase, they legally should be notified. My only concern for the bill is Jim McConnell states that any Superfund site within a one-mile radius should be disclosed when selling the house. This would affect way too many properties, especially on the sea coast. It is scientifically proven that MTBE, the chemical responsible for these cancer outbreaks cannot move that far down stream and still harm an individual. Overall, I support the bill fully if the distance is shortened to one half mile.
By Katelyn Fournier
NH House Bill 1610 requires property sellers to provide information on environmentally hazardous sites and to disclose water tests of MTBE or per-fluorinated chemicals within one-mile of the property. I believe that the bill is a great idea and that the information it requires to be shared is information a buyer should very well be aware of when looking into buying a property. But, if it were up to me I would not pass it as written. I believe with some revisions the bill could become even stronger and would become more likely to be passed.
Within the bill there are a few things that could either be elaborated on or that raise questions. First, after the water has been tested, how long is that test valid for? On average a community water supplier is required to test their water annually. But that is for a whole community of people. One suggestion is that the private water tests could be valid for the year after the house is sold, and from then on is the responsibility of the property owner to get their private water tested when they see fit. This could be during situations such as if there is water discoloration, if the water tastes funky or if they just want to get their water tested to be on the safe side. Another suggestion is to require routine yearly water tests for the first few years after the house is sold. But that would require more work on the seller and owner of the property thus making suggestion one more desirable.
Another question within the bill is, is a one-mile distance around the property sufficient? Depending on the way you view it one mile could either be too much or too little. A one-mile radius around a property is big. But, with any water source there could be runoffs. So, what if a runoff is outside that one mile radius but leaks into a water source within that one mile. Should that runoff be tested too? This proves there should be an increase in distance. A reason to decrease the mileage is because testing all the water sources within one mile could be time consuming and expensive for both the property seller and buyer. But when it comes to environmental and human safety you cannot be too cautious.
In the bill, there are seven environmental hazards that it covers: auto salvage yards, hazardous waste generators, remediation sites, solid waste facilities, underground storage tanks, environmental monitoring sites and local potential contamination sources. But those aren't the only seven environmental hazards in existence, the ones listed are very specific. Is there a way to rephrase the bill so that it includes all environmental hazards in one sentence? A person has the right to know if they are potentially exposing themselves to a risk. Therefore, instead of being specific, the bill should be a little broader in what it states an environmental hazard is.
These comments and questions only aim to improve an already great bill and help citizens with questions better understand the bill and issue at hand.
By William Fabian
I am for house bill 1610 as I think that we don’t need to be worrying about things like underground storage tanks or terrible water supplies as a potential buyer to a home. What the bill states is that If it is passed as is, the seller of a house will now need to disclose information to the buyer about seven things around one mile of the home, specifically “I. Auto salvage yards. II. Hazardous waste generators. III. Remediation sites. IV. Solid waste facilities. V. underground storage tanks. VI Environmental monitoring sites. VII. Local potential contamination sources.” So this will affect both the buyers and the sellers in the housing market, because now the sellers have to spend more and need to be more transparent with their information they give to the buyers, and in turn the buyers get more information about the house they were hoping to invest in and they get less stress for buying the house because they know that there either are or aren’t certain hazards around the home. Specifically, in the most updated portion of the bill, what was added was “The seller shall provide analytical testing results for samples collected from the well for water tests for MTBE and Perfluorinated chemicals if a source of such chemicals is identified within one mile of the property. The seller shall also provide notice if the property is located within ¼ mile of an underground storage tank and specify if a solid waste facility is within one mile of the property and whether the facility is lined or unlined.” I think a revision might be in order for this bill depending on research farther into the future, as were not sure how far the chemicals mentioned are able to spread when they go into the ground and or water table. For now, one mile seems like a good distance though. I don’t entirely understand why it is a one-mile radius for the sources of the chemicals but only a ¼ mile radius for the underground storage tanks, it seems like it should be the same radius because they are both sources of the chemicals and the storage tanks are already underground, so it may be easier for the chemicals to leak out. In the paper I helped write regarding this law we went over the current system and suffice to say this is a massive overhaul and improvement on the previous bill. In the previous bill you needed to disclose three things to the buyer which were 1. Water system type and if you had any problems with it. 2. Information on the sewage system of the house and who services the system. 3. The type of insulation the house has and its location. So over all I see this law as an improvement on the previous legislation we had in place and as just a good thing in general.
NH Science for Citizens
Department of Environmental Studies
Keene State College
Keene, NH 03431
A project of students and faculty at Keene State College in collaboration with local NH state representatives.