Chinese President Says He’ll Look Into Tainted Drywall Issue

The Chinese President has promised to “look into” problems with tainted drywall that country imported to the U.S. The promise was made Tuesday by Chinese President Hu Jintao – through a translator – to U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) during a break in the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C.

Since late 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received more than 3,000 reports from residents in 37 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. Gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. These gases also produce a sulfurous odor that permeates homes, and cause metals, including air conditioning coils and even jewelry, to corrode. People living with Chinese drywall have also suffered eye, respiratory and sinus problems that may be linked to the gases.

Just last week, a federal judge awarded $2.6. million to plaintiffs in the first Chinese drywall lawsuit to go to trial in a multidistrict litigation currently underway in New Orleans. The ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Eldon E. Fallon mandates that the plaintiffs’ homes be gutted down to the studs. The Judge also ruled that the plaintiffs were entitled to damages for the cost of personal property damaged by the drywall gases, relocation costs, and loss of use and enjoyment of the home.

It’s not yet clear how or when the judgment would be paid. The main defendant at the trial, Taishan Gypsum Co. – a drywall manufacturer controlled by the Chinese government – never responded to lawsuits and did not have a lawyer present for the trial. Civil judgments in U.S. courts aren’t enforced in China. Plaintiffs lawyers have said in the past that they would seek to seize Taishan Gypsum’s U.S.-bound vessels and shipments if it continues to ignore lawsuits.

According to a statement from Nelson’s office, the Senator told President Hu about the CPSC findings that Chinese manufacturers sent tainted drywall to the U.S. that is now making homes uninhabitable. “President Hu, through a translator, pledged to investigate – to ‘look into it’ immediately, ” Nelson said in the release.

“If we can get the top government official of China working on this, then that’s where we’re going to get the money to make these homeowners whole,” Nelson said.

The senator also told the South Florida Business Times that President Hu “didn’t know about” the issue of corrosive drywall from China affecting thousands of homes throughout the country before the two spoke.

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