Subject: Public comments on dioxin, Dow injection wells, cancer in residents, dioxin sludge on crops, etc.
Date: June 5, 2002
To: Linda Larsen
From: Sandy Mannion
Hemlock, MI 48626 (Midland County)
Comments on Draft Public Health
Date: June 5, 2002
Dioxin, according to the MDCH fact sheet, is toxic, bioaccumulative,
and persistent in the environment. It produces known and probably as yet,
unknown serious health effects in humans.For many years, Dow Chemical Company
of Midland has produced dioxin and spread it far beyond the plant site in Midland to the
surrounding area - including the Tittabawassee River. .
They, in fact, possess a permit to discharge dioxin into the Tittabawassee
River,which empties into the Saginaw River , Sagnaw Bay and then Lake Huron- a
source of drinking water for thousands of people in the Saginaw-Midland-Bay City
area. During the National Dioxin Study of the 1980's, EPA found varying levels of dioxin
in all but two of the numerous soil samples they tested in the Midland area. In addition,
Dioxin was also found in the sludge of the waste water treatment plant in Midland.
This sludge is spread on farm land of the surrounding area as fertilizer.
There are dioxin fish advisories and warnings against comumption of
fish in the Tittabawassee River downstream from the Dow plant. Dioxin was found
three times by two different labs in my own well water during the EPA National
Dioxin Study.EPA refused to give written results or raw lab data to me.
Gary Amendola, of EPA, indicated that "all of it was done over the phone
with nothing written". However, a TV news reporter was present for one of
the resamplings by EPA. Dan Schultz of the DNR (now DEQ) indicated in a
office memo that he felt further testing should occur.
Also, the livelihood of several business owners far downstream along
the Saginaw River is threatened, because they depend on dredging the river
in order to allow the large freighters access to their docks. The dredging can
no longer be done because there is no place to put the dioxin contaminated
sediment from the river. And now we are informed of the high levels of
dioxin found along the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River. This area is
not only residential but is also used for farming and recreation.
Truckloads of the soil were hauled out by a local contractor as fill for yards of
local homes. Huge amounts of the soil was also relocated to another family's
home building site in order to make a " golf aqua range".
Nearby, construction workers work directly in the river to widen a bridge crossing the
Tittabawassee River. The nearby downstream village of Freeland holds a Walleye
Festival each year on the river.
In addition, and I realize this is anecdotal --- Dow workers have
stated that the Dow brine well system may well contain dioxin. They maintain
that there was often no distinction made between the reinjection system for
disposal of spent brine and the injection system for the disposal of other
chemicals. EITHER system was often used indiscrimanately if the need arose
to dispose of a chemical. Over the years, millions, and I do mean (documented)
millions upon millions of gallons of brine were spilled onto the land from
leaks in this antiquated system.It was seldom cleaned up, but rather left to
soak into the ground or run down into the ditches.
This area also endured two very unusual events over the last 15
years.... a "hundred year flood" of the Tittabawasse River and a huge windstorm.
Not a big "breeze", but a huge, high velocity wind storm causing movement of
dust and dirt from Minnesota to Michigan and beyond. Common sense tells me
that these two unusual phenomena contributed to the spread of dioxin
contaminated oil and water beyond the Dow plant site.
I know that others have submitted comments on Dow's actual production
of dioxin and many of the historically significant events and political
manueverings regarding dioxin , so I prefer instead to add my own
anectodal information regarding the health of people in the Midland area.
And I repeat, I realize this IS anecdotal, but this type of information
can often be the starting point for more scientific study. Therefore, I
want to relate the following:
In many trips to the University of Michigan Medical Center with my son
, in each department we visited, the personnel would comment that Midland,
Michigan, did not seem to be a good place to live. They would further
add that they always treated many more patients from Midland than any other
area of the state. This same message was repeated to me at Cleveland Clinic.
In addition, a good friend who is an R.N. and prepares patients for
cancer surgeries at U of M Med Center tells me each time I see her that most
of their cancer patients come from Midland. This is unsolicited by me.She
relates it as a warning for protecting my family's health.
As mentioned above, I live very near Dow Chemical's brine well
There is a reinjection well just across the field from my home. Along
the road crossing this system for about 3 miles in each direction, there
were two babies (next door neighbors) born with anencephaly in the last few
Another child was born with spina bifida occulta, four with Down's
Syndrome, and two other mentally impaired children. Also, another child was born
with severe heart defects and no arms. Two of the down's syndrome children
have other defects such as cardiac and intestinal deformities. These are
only the children I am aware of, but in a very rural farm area, this number of
birth defects seems quite unusual.
So, YES, indeed, I believe that the Midland AREA needs a comprehensive
health study done. I do not believe there are any studies to date regarding
the synergistic effects of Dioxin with other chemicals such as PBB that
most michigan residents have in their bodies, the malathion sprayed all over
the area for mosquitos, or the tons of other chemicals we are bombarded
with by the permitted and accidental air and water releases from the chemical
and industrial facilities in the area.
I am very concerned that given Dow Chemical Company's power and
political clout, the study results may indeed be influenced by politics or risk
benefit assessment type manuevering of facts and data. I am even concerned
about the integretity of laboratories( and protocol), given my past
experience both privately and with EPA during sampling. Also, if the
needed health study is done, it is useless and a waste of taxpayer money, if
double speak and double negative phrases are conjured up to skew or minmize
the danger or results , ie, the conclusion of the National Dioxin Study:
"Dioxin does not pose an unacceptable risk to the residents of Midland,
Hopefully, the results of any expensive health study done now will be
reported and interpreted accurately and with honesty and
integretity. Hopefully, there will not be political influence or manuevering
of the scientific work by the policy makers. Hopefully it will not be
yet another cruel joke on the folks of this area who rely on their Health
Department to PROTECT THEIR HEALTH and well being.
Source: Diane Hebert
For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawasse River Watch web site www.trwnews.net. for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga.. The source organization's web site link is listed above. The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.