Nelson urges Obama to take action on drywall

rdymond@bradenton.comApril 7, 2009 

LAKEWOOD RANCH — With 60,000 American homes suspected of containing tainted Chinese drywall including 30,000 in Florida, President Barack Obama must broach the subject of culpability with the Chinese president later this year, said U.S. Senator Bill Nelson today during a visit to a tainted home in Lakewood Ranch.

“That issue will be an agenda item when the president goes to China at the end of the year and visits with Chinese president Hu Jintao,” Nelson said, adding he will personally address the president about the drywall problem.

Nelson spent Tuesday morning visiting several homes containing drywall in Greenbrook Village.

The senator, who has recently written legislation to remedy the drywall problem, believes the manufacturers of the material should be held responsible to correct the problem and not necessarily the builders.

His bill, if made law, would initiate a drywall recall and would impose an immediate ban imported Chinese drywall.

The bill would also ask the Consumer Products Safety Commission to join with federal testing labs and the Environmental Protection Agency to determine the danger level of chemicals and compounds in the drywall.

Nelson, who is allergic to mold and mildew and who gets congested and experiences hoarseness when he tours homes with the tainted drywall, said he was experiencing symptoms within moments of entering a home Tuesday on Skip Jack Loop purchased for $331,000 several years ago by Kristin Culliton.

Culliton, a single mother who used to sell houses for builder Taylor-Morrison, bought her house from her former employer.

She moved out of the home in December, 2007 when she was two months pregnant with her son, Cayden. Now she wants Taylor-Morrison to buy her home back from her.

“This is not how my life was supposed to be,” said Culliton, who is living with her son in a nearby two-bedroom condo owned by her mother, Kay.

“I bought this house, my dream house, with the plan for my son to go to schools around here,” Culliton said. “But I haven’t been able to live in my home.”

Nelson and Culliton went to the second floor of Culliton’s home and pointed out how the coils on her air conditioning system had turned black. Nelson said the corrosion is from some compound in the drywall. Nelson took a screwdriver and scraped the black debris from the coils and uncovered gleaming copper underneath.

“Imagine what it does to lungs if it does this to copper,” Culliton said.

Culliton, who believes her home is now worthless and should be torn down, also showed Nelson an electrical outlet near her front door where the wires had turned black.

“That could cause an electrical fire,” Culliton said.

Nelson said he will give Obama a report about what he has found while visiting locations on the west and east coast of Florida recently, including the homes in Greenbrook.

Culliton invited Obama to visit her home.

A state toxicologist from the Florida Department of Health also visited Culliton’s home Tuesday.

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