Senate passes toxic disclosure bill

A public health warning sign at Ferry Creek in Stratford, Conn. The creek and several nearby residential properties were dumped with toxic waste decades ago and haven't been cleaned up at all.

A bill that would overhaul the state’s residential property condition disclosure form was approved by the Senate Wednesday, the last day of the Legislative session.

Among the revisions included in the bill is a disclosure that would require Connecticut home sellers to state whether they are aware of any pending litigation concerning the discharge of hazardous materials on their property.

The proposed disclosure is intended to help homebuyers learn whether a residential property has been the subject of government-mandated hazardous waste remediation. Currently, the state disclosure form doesn’t specifically ask homeowners to divulge to buyers whether hazardous materials are present.

The bill could particularly benefit residents in Stratford, where more than 100 homes are part of a federal Superfund site. Homebuyers there have found it’s no simple matter to learn whether there’s a history of toxicity associated with a property.

The waterfront colonial at 348 Housatonic Ave. is one of more than 100 Stratford homes built above a pool of contaminated groundwater. But unlike most homes here, this house is not equipped with a sub-slab ventilation system to clear the indoor air of toxins rising out of the groundwater.

Nearly a dozen residents who moved into Stratford homes since the government declared them toxic waste sites told Hearst Connecticut Newspapers last year that they were not told their properties are tainted by hazardous waste. If they had known, many said, they never would have moved in.

The bill would also increase from $300 to $500 the fee a seller must pay a buyer if he or she wishes to avoid filling out the disclosure form altogether.

The bill must be signed by the governor to go into effect.