Flood-borne sediment includes dioxin

Thursday, March 11, 2004


Flood victims along the Tittabawassee River may have their homes back, but receding waters have left them knee-deep in another problem -- dioxin.

The state Department of Environmental Quality is warning residents to keep their hands off any sediment washed across their decks or into their basements by the Tittabawassee River.

Officials say the water-borne soils are laden with dioxin, an industrial pollutant linked to historic discharges from Dow Chemical Co.

"There is so much contamination in the soils right now that we want to prevent people from having direct contact with the materials," said Jim J. Sygo, deputy director of the DEQ.

The Tittabawassee River gushed over its banks last weekend, swelling to 27.4 feet on Saturday. The river washed over residential streets, submerged parks and forced the evacuation of low-lying neighborhoods.

The National Weather Service reported similar flood-level surges in the Saginaw and Cass rivers.

State officials say the flood is an environmental concern for residents along the Tittabawassee River. The DEQ is advising residents to spray all water-borne sediments from their sidewalks, patios and doorsteps to keep people from tracking the toxin indoors.

Residents with flooded basements may want to hire a professional cleaner, Sygo said.

The department's concern extends beyond property owners to recreation areas such as Imerman Park, which was submerged during the recent floods. Cleanup crews must deal with a left-over layer of sediment and debris.

State officials say the job will take more than a simple sweeping.

"These waste piles cannot be washed back into the river," said Terry L. Walkington, supervisor of the department's Saginaw Bay District. "That is not the right thing to do."

Walkington said communities must treat the soil as solid waste and haul it to a landfill.

He confirmed that a local landfill recently refused such waste, but said state officials plan to resolve the problem "soon."

He said dioxin-laden dirt is appropriate for landfill placement and will not result in groundwater contamination. t

© 2004 Saginaw News


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 Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.