Kathie Marchlewski, Midland Daily News
The Dow Chemical Co. is preparing to keep Midland and Tittabawassee River residents from dioxin exposure in the short term, but it's too soon to tell what it will take to solve the contamination problem in the long term.
The state and Dow Wednesday announced an agreement that will put interim plans in motion -- notification, cleaning and covering of loose soil at about 100 homes along the flood plain and 115 in Midland --but the final resolution will take about a year longer to plan.
A full version of the outline of work plans was posted on the DEQ website Thursday night. As of this morning, many members of the community said they hadn't yet had a chance to review it. The DEQ had given a preview Wednesday, though the settlement agreement hadn't yet been signed by the parties or released.
The document is available at www.mi.gov/deqdioxin and includes maps of areas that are a top priority for immediate clean-up actions.
Dow has until Dec. 31, 2005 to submit final remediation plans for the Saginaw River and Bay, Tittabawassee River and Midland area soils.
For waterways, that could include dredging of hot spots. Previous studies have shown a range of dioxin levels from below the state's allowable level of 90 parts per trillion, to 7,000 parts per trillion near the Tittabawassee River and 11,000 in the Saginaw River.
"There may be some specific areas along the river that would best be taken care of by excavation," said Dow's John Musser. "We may find some pockets. Those might be seen as targets for dredging. It's really premature to say how much and where."
For homes, final plans could include excavation and soil replacement, or buy-out to remove the property from residential use.
Dow's Susan Carrington, vice president of the Michigan Dioxin Initiative, said it's unclear how much money requirements of the state agreement will cost, but Dow already has invested $25 million in river flood plain activities, including barriers at riverside parks, signs and communication, along with three studies -- the University of Michigan human exposure study, an ecological assessment and a bioavailability pilot study.
Three areas of Midland will be addressed as part of Dow's agreement with the state: North of the Dow facility, bounded by Lyon Street on the north and west, Tibbs Street to the east and a railroad to the south; the neighborhood near Corning Lane, bounded by Saginaw Road to the west, Bay City Road to the north, Bierlein Services to the east and Mark Putnam Road to the south; the neighborhood bounded by Mark Putnam Road to the south, Bierlein Services to the west and Bay City Road to the north and Sam Street to the east.
Educational materials will be sent to households, and Dow will be responsible for interior house cleaning, including carpets and duct work, where contaminated dust may be present. Loose soils will be covered. Any other areas of the city found to have levels of dioxin higher than 1,000 parts per trillion (the federal level for clean up action) may also come to be included in these requirements.
Dow has the option to provide a final remedy by offering to purchase properties so that the use is no longer residential, or excavating and removing soil. If an owner refuses action, Dow is not required to offer compensation as encouragement or to seek a court order to access an owner's property.
Parks and recreational areas
Dow will be required to fund an escrow account for the DEQ to install warning and advisory signs at Imerman Park, Freeland Festival Park, Germania Golf Course, and Shiawassee National Wildlife Refuge. Until a final remedy is complete, Dow will provide funding to contractors or local governments to clear publicly used pavement of river sediment after floods.
Tittabawassee River and flood plain properties
Dow will study river dynamics sediment characteristics. Based on the study, it will be required to prepare a remedial plan for addressing sediment removal, management and disposal.
Following floods, until a final remedy is implemented, Dow will remove dirt and mud from the interior of residences that have yards contaminated beyond 1,000 ppt.
Actions will focus on the upper portion of the river and studies will be completed to identify areas where dioxin contaminated sediment can be cost-effectively removed. The state and Dow agree that the Saginaw watershed has historical contamination issues from sources other than Dow. Dow will be required only to fund the portion of clean up determined to be a result of its manufacturing activities.
©Midland Daily News 2005
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.