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Florida Communities Act on Chinese Drywall Crisis

Jan 26, 2010 | Parker Waichman LLP

Two more Florida communities have passed resolutions meant to help Chinese drywall victims. The Parkland City Commission has agreed to eliminate building permit fees for Chinese drywall repairs. Meanwhile, St. Lucie County Commissioners have become the latest to petition Governor Charlie Crist for an emergency declaration over the Chinese drywall crisis.

The Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received more than 2,800 complaints from dozens of states regarding defective Chinese drywall. The wallboard poured into the U.S. between 1999 and 2007 because of the high demand created by the housing boom. Imports accelerated when the rebuilding that followed Hurricane Charley in Florida in 2004, and Hurricane Katrina along the Gulf Coast in 2005, created a drywall shortage. According to an earlier Wall Street Journal report, some 500 million pounds of Chinese drywall was imported to the U.S. during the housing boom. That means as many as 100,000 homes throughout the country could have been built with the material.

Last summer, tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency found that Chinese-manufactured drywall contained elevated levels of strontium sulfide, as well as the presence of several organic compounds associated with the production of acrylic paint that were not present in samples of U.S.-made drywall. Other tests released in November by the CPSC of 51 homes confirmed that the presence of hydrogen sulfide is the essential component that causes copper and silver sulfide corrosion found in Chinese drywall homes. Federal investigators are still trying to determine what health risks exposure to drywall gases might pose.

In Parkland, where several hundred houses are thought to have been built with defective Chinese drywall, the agreement to waive permit fees for repairs could save homeowners as much as $3,000.

“It’s meant as a way to help the people who got stuck with a home with Chinese drywall,” Mayor Michael Udine said Monday. “We wanted to figure out a way to cut them some slack.”

Prior to passing a resolution to seek an emergency declaration, St. Lucie County Commissioners heard from Brian Sexton, who has been forced to abandon his home because of health concerns after it was found to have toxic Chinese drywall. Sexton told the Commissioners that he has been renting an apartment and has received no help from his mortgage lender. As a result, his credit is now ruined.

An emergency declaration would make state and federal assistance, including help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), available to Chinese drywall victims. As we’ve reported previously, Parkland and Broward county passed such resolutions earlier this month. A similar resolution is being considered by the Cape Coral City Council.

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