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Betty Damore 5/08/03

Below is the text of the speech delivered by Betty Damore, a Tittabawassee Floodplain resident. Betty made the speech to the Dow shareholders on 5/8/03 at their annual shareholder meeting in Midland Michigan:

My name is Betty Damore, and my family and I have lived on the Tittabawassee River flood plain for more than 100 years.

I have raised my children here, and they have spent many hours playing in our backyard and the community parks along the river. We have planted a yearly garden raising the typical garden vegetables, and consuming the produce every season.

In 1986 our land was flooded by the overflow of the Tittabawassee River for several weeks. Of course this provided an opportunity for many children to play along the waters edge and family members to do water associated activities.

In late 2001 the residents along the Tittabawassee flood plain received an information packet from the DEQ informing us about flood plain areas where dioxin could pose public health and/or environmental concerns.

It is not just my family and our yard that is contaminated but nearly 2000 families living all along a 22 mile stretch of river and floodplain runningallthe way to the Saginaw Bay. All of it is contaminated with dioxin and other toxic pollutants.

We still live in our home but living in a limited way following recommended guidelines suggested by EPA, MDCH, and MDA.

Dow tells us that dioxin is safe unless we eat piles of dirt. We don’t have to eat the dirt to be exposed. Inhalation of dust and soil particles are defined as an exposure route.

Dow has taken out full-page ads in an attempt to downplay the problem. But our community has been doing its own research. According to the most respected journals and scientists, dioxin is indeed a potent poison. It can cause cancer. It can harm the development of babies. It is toxic to the immune system, the hormone system, and the reproductive system. It has been linked to conditions like endometriosis and diabetes. It is toxic in tiny amounts. There is zero level of dioxin that is acceptable.

Every exposure increases our risk. Due to Dow and other industries, there is already a high level of dioxin in the general population. The fact that we live in a dioxin hot zone just adds to our risk.

In the past, Dow has tried to avoid responsibility for their problems. While that may save money in the short term, in the long term, it just erodes confidence in the company and in the whole chemical industry. Dow will likely spend a lot of money to say dioxin is safe.

They will fight cleanup every step of the way. That is what they have done in the past. Just a few months ago they tried to get a deal with the previous administration that would have made our area a dioxin hot zone permanently. Dow was suggesting to raise allowable dioxin levels in Midlands residential soil up to 831 ppt compared to the states current 90-ppt limit.

But although Dow will waste valuable time and resources to avoid responsibility, they will try to distort science. They will try to influence politicians. They will try to fool the public. The facts are still hard to avoid. The truth is that people are being poisoned every day by the irresponsibility of Dow.

Although Dow has stated on 3/26/03 in the Midland Daily News "We are and have been fully committed to the health and environment of this community", words won't do. We only believe in actions at this point. Dow would do everyone a favor by facing up to the problem, and working on real solutions that reduce our risks and protect our children.

Imagine how you would feel if one day you woke up to this nightmare. You learn that you have raised your children with a highly toxic chemical all around and inside you. Image how angry and frightened you would be. Imagine how angry you would be if you were lied to about it. We are not just dealing with backyard exposure. We are dealing with daily chronic exposure year after year.

This problem won't go away. It will just keep getting bigger until the company takes responsibility and addresses it. WILL YOU DO THAT!

Thank you for the opportunity to speak.


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