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Michelle Hurd Riddick, Lone Tree Council 12/29/04

To the Editor, Saginaw News: Cheapest, not safest 

Regarding the editorial, "Dredging plans can't run aground", Dec. 15: We are in agreement that the economic and environmental benefits of dredging the Saginaw River are huge, and we support dredging the river, but not on the cheap as proposed by the U.S. Army Corps. of engineers and Saginaw County.

This site was chosen because it was the cheapest, not the safest.

The disposal site is in the 25 year floodplain of fertile farm land in the backyard of many residents in Zilwaukee Township.  Dioxin concentrations in the Saginaw River are higher than any found in the Tittabawassee River, where people are fighting to get it out of their backyards.

This landfill site is no high-tech model.  There will be no daily cover.  It's a slurry pit with a conduit to run water back to the river on specified days, with no water treatment infrastructure planned at this time.  The Environmental Protection Agency, in letters sent to the Corps. of Engineers as recently as last month, had some strong concerns about this project.  Concerns that address the appropriateness of placing such heavily contaminated soils in this landfill, fishing habitat, structure ability to withstand flooding, bald eagle protections, and movement of contaminated sediment to Lake Huron.  None of these issues are insignificant. The corps has repeatedly declined an Environmental Impact Statement, something we should agree is relevant and significant for Lake Huron, public health, and the wildlife inhabitants of our watershed.

In June 2003, Dow Chemical was issued an operating license that holds it responsible for dioxins found in the Saginaw River and Bay; dioxins subject by Michigan law  to response activities and cleanup.

Dow is responsible for the dioxin in the Saginaw River.  Negotiations with Dow should include financial and technical expertise to place these and any future dredged and contaminated soils in a hazardous waste landfill off the floodplains.  Business owners along the river an the taxpayers should not bear the financial and long-term liabilities alone.

Those 280 jobs are important, but so are fishing, hunting, tourism,  and recreation in the largest watershed in Michigan.  Public health, natural resource protection and quality of life are paramount to attracting tourism, visitors and prospective businesses.

Lets dredge the river, but let's do it right.  Jobs and a clean environment are not mutually exclusive.


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