TROY, Mich. (FOX 2) - Last May, Katrina Rende and her husband discovered their Troy home had been contaminated because of diesel oil lurking underground, leaking into their sump pump for years. They’d been told it was safe when they bought it. But that’s not true.
Since then, they have been forced to live in an RV in their driveway, wear facemasks to block the toxic fumes and wonder if or when they will ever be able to move back into their home.
"I have done a lot of research on the chemicals that are in that house and based on how I felt illness-wise, coughing, I am scared," said Katrina.
When the Rendees bought the house a decade ago - they were told an oil drum was buried in the backyard, but their property was completely safe.
"At the time we moved in, we already had seven children," she said. "I said are they going to be safe playing in the backyard? They said 'Yes absolutely, there is no contaminants at all.'"
FOX 2: "Who told you that?"
"The city and the state. We called the health department, they knew about the whole thing, and so did the city (which said we were) completely clean, you are good to go," she said.
According to these documents, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has realized that is not the case. Environmental experts tested the soil and realized the leak is coming from the back yard, but crews hired by the state, cannot find the source.
The state speculated the original builder used that site as an illegal dumping zone. The chemicals are so strong, tests revealed it has contaminated all of their furniture, even the foundation.
The state is paying for the testing, digging and remediation, but the Rendees are responsible for replacing everything else. Insurance doesn't cover a dime.
"They said on the policy and if anyone looks at their home owner's policy there is an exclusion for chemical intrusion," she said. "Which means any chemical intrudes into your home not covered. I don't have the money to pay for the stuff because even if they clean it all up, how do I move back into my home?"
And then there is that - her husband is a cancer survivor and eight growing children who she home schools still live at the house. The long-term health impact is still unknown. Katrina knows her 3,000-square foot home isn't worth anything anymore and they cannot afford to move.
Dig it out, fill it back in with clean soil and hope it doesn't come back," she said.
FOX 2: "Will you feel safe with that?"
"I don't think I'll ever feel safe," Katrina said. "Who knows what is behind our yard."