New warning signs at local launch

Kathie Marchlewski, Midland Daily News 11/10/2005

A newly staked sign at Midland’s Caldwell Boat launch warns fishermen of local fish advisories: Carp, catfish and white bass should not be eaten at all, and some other species should be limited. The warnings have been in place for decades, but the postings are brand new – metal signs funded by The Dow Chemical Co.

As part of its state-mandated, dioxin-associated corrective action efforts, Tittabawassee River public access areas now have a combination of advisories, some noting contaminated fish and some cautioning parkgoers about contaminated soil.

Midland, however, will host only the fish alert. City officials have declined requests by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to put up soil advisory signs at Caldwell, saying there is no scientific evidence showing that exposure to dioxin-contaminated soil poses a public health threat.

 "Where dioxin is a health threat, we are supportive of those efforts," said City Manager Karl Tomion. "We believe very strongly that fish advisories are necessary."

That’s because experts have concluded that dioxin in people’s bodies gets there from the food supply. While even fish and meat sold in grocery stores contain dioxin, fish and wildlife from the Tittabawassee River and its flood plain have shown levels higher than background levels.

What experts have not concluded is whether dioxin gets into people’s bodies when they come into contact with soil. The University of Michigan is in the final stages of a dioxin exposure study that could answer that question, with results due in 2006. Tomion and Midland County Health Department Director Michael Krecek say the results of that study are crucial, and they expect the state to use the results in determining how to proceed with dioxin remedies – sign posting or otherwise.

The DEQ, however, believes the signage is important. Soil advisories have been posted at Freeland and Saginaw parks, and officials plan to make another attempt at including Midland.

Soil testing at Caldwell Boat Launch has shown dioxin levels lower than 300 parts per trillion – but higher than the state’s 90 ppt standard. Levels uncovered on nearby property during a recent round of testing conducted by Dow showed more than 8,000 ppt.

"Some of the latest data we’ve seen is showing the highest levels of dioxin closest to the river," said DEQ Deputy Director Jim Sygo. "If people are going down there to fish, they ought to know what they’re sitting on."

The City of Midland will not provide the required consent unless science shows that the soil could be a threat to people, Tomion said. Alternatively, the DEQ has approached Dow about placing the signage on nearby property under its ownership. The company also refused.

"We feel it’s unreasonable," said Dow spokesman John Musser. He added that the Dow property is overgrown and provides little access to the river.

©Midland Daily News 2005


Reader Opinions:

Kathy Henry Nov, 11 2005 This city is willing to take on it's own liability for failure to warn residents? Amazing, and pretty stupid.

Fred Stoll Nov, 11 2005 I would be interested in that information as well Kathy.

Kathy Miller Nov, 11 2005 OK, I live about a mile and a quarter down river of the Caldwell boat launch. I have lived here over 25 years. Fred Stoll is my neighbor. We have always carried our water because we fear the water to drink isnt safe.

In a nut shell what I want to know is this, Can someone explain to me all of my neighbors who have died of lung cancer, ovarian cancer, and breast cancer??? I am relatively young at 50, I have had cancer. My neighbor around the corner 2 years younger than I has also had cancer. I myself would feel better if someone would focus more on people and less on fish, turkeys, and the wildlife that lives on or in the river.

What I would like to know is " Is it safe to live here???"

Mrs. Kathy Miller

Fred Stoll Nov, 10 2005 Years ago, warnings were put on cigarette packages at a time when it wasn't a scientific fact that smoking was harmful.

Keep in mind, these are the same city officials that won't let dioxin testing be done on city property either. They are just playing politics with this issue, one would think they would err on the side of caution.

For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee River Watch web site 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.