A story out of North Carolina this month is bringing up some interesting questions for residents here in Michigan. The problem stems around a neighborhood that was built on an old landfill. With the ground sinking because of decomposition, residents are wondering who is liable for damages to their homes and the possibility of health risks in the area.

According to the city, the liability lies in the private property owners because the landfill predated the establishment of the city. Residents in the area disagree however, pointing out that the city issued the building permits for the homes and should have been well aware of the landfill and its potential dangers down the road. Now the property dispute is forcing some homeowners to acquire legal representation in the event that the city tries to wash their hands of responsibility.

But it’s not just the city and the residents who are aware of the potential danger the old landfill could pose. The North Carolina Division of Waste Management has even gotten involved in the matter, testing the ground for the presence of metals and contaminants. According to their results, the levels of do not pose an immediate health risk to the people in the community. But as one man in the neighborhood points out, some of the people have been living in the area for years; and with dangerous debris sitting just inches below the surface, could these years of exposure have been enough to cause serious health problems?

Although the city says that it will bring up the complaints to the board of commissioners, it is likely that a solution will not be found anytime soon. In the meantime, some area residents are seeking legal help to figure out what can be done about their situation.

Source: ABC News, “House Built on North Carolina Landfill Has Sinking Feeling,” Daniel Bean, May 29, 2013