Dow meetings offer answers

Kathie Marchlewski, Midland Daily News 03/03/2005

The plan is to take care of the worst first, and property owners expected to have the highest levels of dioxin contamination on their land are learning this week how The Dow Chemical Co. and state plan to keep them from being exposed to it until a final resolution is in place.

Fifty or sixty people met with the company and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in Saginaw this week. They make up about 25 percent of Tittabawassee River flood plain property owners whose yards have been labeled top priorities by the state. They were given information on services they will be offered in upcoming months, such as carpet and duct cleaning, and covering of loose soil.

In upcoming weeks, each of the owners of about 130 properties will receive a packet of more detailed information. Midland properties in Priority 1 areas will be invited to similar meetings and receive information in the near future.

"The meetings are going very well and are valuable," said Al Taylor, geologist with the DEQ's Waste and Hazardous Materials Division. "People aren't going to get caught cold when they get the mail package."

Attendees were introduced to representatives from AKT Peerless Environmental Service, a Saginaw-based firm that will be contacting each property owner for in-home consultation. If they decide to move forward, AKT Peerless will arrange for the work to be done and will provide vouchers for services that will be paid for by Dow.

Reactions from meeting participants have been varied, Musser said. "We had people who said, 'This is a great thing you're doing,' and we had people who said, 'This is an insult.'"

Some were more worried about secondhand smoke in bars than about dioxin, and some said cleaning carpet would do little to help the situation, he said.

Jeff Jacob, who has lived in his West Michigan Avenue home in Saginaw for 10 years, has been flooded twice by the Tittabawassee. He attended an afternoon meeting with Dow Wednesday and said he'll have to wait for his in-home visit to see which, if any, of the actions will be best for his family -- he's already completed much of the work being offered.

"This was a good meeting, it was an informative meeting," Jacob said, adding he's not sure how effective interim actions would be.

The framework Dow and DEQ agreed to in January, which includes the interim response activities, is an outline of plans to address the regional dioxin problem once and for all.

Meanwhile, interim actions are to be in place by the end of the year.

While the DEQ did not lead the meeting, representatives were invited to answer technical questions and to give the state's point of view. DEQ-sposnored meetings might be scheduled for March.

©Midland Daily News 2005


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