Tennessean: New federal rule could make flood repairs “slow and expensive,” Senator says

Posted on May 26, 2010

Sen. Lamar Alexander is asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency to delay a new rule that could prevent thousands of contractors from repairing flooded buildings constructed before 1978.

The new rule, which went into effect on April 22, requires that all contractors go through a one-day lead paint removal training. Lead paint has been associated with serious health affects, especially in children, that can include seizures, behavioral issues and even death.

Out of the state’s 50,000 contractors about 2,700 workers and 370 firms are certified. But to get more contractors certified will be difficult given that the EPA only has three trainers in Tennessee, Alexander said.

“About two weeks before the flood, EPA put into effect a new rule on lead paint that will make home repairs slower and more expensive for thousands of Tennesseans,” he said. “It’s a good goal, but the plan to implement it won’t work. Nashville alone had over $2 billion in damage and more than 11,000 homes that need repair.”

Lamar didn’t know how many of the 11,000 flood-damaged homes in Nashville were built before 1978. Statewide there are about 750,000 homes built before that time.

Any contractor who is not certified would face fines of up to $37,500 a day for each violation.

Alexander said he is asking for a nationwide delay of the rule. He will also suggest that any contractor who signs up for a certification class by the end of September to be considered in compliance.