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Michelle Hurd Riddick, 07/28/05, response to Dr. Shaheen SN column 07/10/05

Dow and their Apologists
Saginaw News July 26, 2005

Editor, The News:

We are all entitled to our own opinion but we are not entitled to our own facts.
Apparently the brightest minds at the Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, EPA, International Agency for Research on Cancer and a plethora of independent worldwide scientists are all wrong about dioxin being a carcinogen or a health problem.

Because Dr. Samuel H. Shaheen and Dow Chemical Corp., Michiganıs largest producer of this chemical, say dioxin isnıt a problem.

To state, as Shaheen did in his July 10 guest column, that the folks along the river are motivated by greed is likely a prelude to more of the same rhetoric by any number of people who feel Dow has no responsibility for fouling this watershed. After years of Dowıs relentless denying and political maneuvering to avoid responsibility, residents rightfully turned to the courts. Like Shaheen, these folks have a right to protect their investment.
Shaheen delineated a number of sources for the dioxin ‹ from forest fires to slaughterhouses. What he glaringly omitted was the dioxin fingerprint exclusive to Dow Chemical.

Shaheen then goes on to impugn
Dr. Linda Birnbaum, a world-renowned researcher on dioxin. To suggest in her presentation that Birnbaum had to "aid and abet" the Lone Tree Council warrants an apology to Birnbaum and her independent work. He disparages Birnbaum by stating the list of dioxin related maladies she presented as being probably imagined, ignoring the extensive peer review of her work.

The doctor is perplexed that the state Department of Environmental Quality would engage common folks with no science background, perhaps suggesting the citizens of Saginaw County are not astute enough to be engaged in the discussions about the watershed. We are the rightful owners of these rivers and resources, and the state agency works for us as much as they do for influential people and corporate barons.

To suggest that holding Dow responsible will harm the local economy is a lame attempt to capitalize on the uncertainty of Michiganıs economy. Dowıs contamination of the resources of the Saginaw Bay watershed is of notable economic proportion. There are huge economic implications associated with this contamination that have nothing to do with Dowıs quarterly profits.
How we resolve this rests with an open, honest debate and discussion within our community. Dozens of rivers are being restored around this country and we can do the same here, but for an unwilling responsible party and one too many Dow apologists.

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council

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