Tainted land salable Entrepreneur: I will buy out willing sellers


Homeowners along the Tittabawassee River may have found someone to snatch up their dioxin-stained properties: Dr. Samuel H. Shaheen.

The Saginaw Township physician and entrepreneur announced Thursday that he and unnamed business associates are prepared to buy any property along the Tittabawassee River whose owners are worried about dioxin contamination.

"I have a group of businessmen willing to buy every house along the river at double (state equalized value) plus $25,000 to $30,000, depending on condition," he told panelists of a state Department of Environmental Quality forum on dioxin.

Shaheen lashed out at environmentalists for trying to destroy the accused polluter, Dow Chemical Co., which he said provides enormous benefit to the state and nation.

Environmentalists say they are trying to protect public health and a public resource.

Shaheen refused to talk about plans for buying riverside properties after the meeting.

"I don't want to talk about that," he said.

However, in a hallway conversation with a homeowner, he made good on his claim with at least one person.

Chuck Abbott, 38, has feared for his health and his property values because of dioxin levels measuring 1,890 parts per trillion near his Thomas Township home -- a concentration well above the state limit of 90 parts per trillion.

When he looks across the street, he sees a home that has lingered on the real estate market for more than a year without selling. He wonders if his house faces a similar fate.

"It has no value," he said. "You'd have to disclose (the dioxin) before you sell, and nobody's going to want it."

Abbott said Shaheen invited him to stop by his office with photos of the house. While the entrepreneur gave no purchase price for the $120,000 home, he said he would make the Abbotts happy.

The businessman said he would do the same for other discontented property owners, Abbott said.

"I told him, 'You'd be looking at the whole block,"' Abbott said. "He said, 'We would buy the whole block if they're not happy."'

Shaheen's statement came during a focus group meeting with the DEQ at Horizon's Conference Center, 6200 State. Officials invited him to attend as a "stakeholder" in the dioxin controversy.

This was one of four meetings in the Tri-Counties that will guide regulators in forming a dioxin-related communications plan for the public.

Officials say they will use the plan to educate and solicit input from mid-Michigan residents on how to proceed with dioxin cleanup downstream and downwind of Dow Chemical Co.

"If we are going to succeed, we need to have broad public involvement and community acceptance," said DEQ Director Steven Chester. "(Without those things,) we're not going to make it. It's got to be effective. It's got to reach out to all stakeholders."

State officials have limited participation in the focus groups to a panel of invitation-only stakeholders. While the public may attend, citizens must submit their input in writing.

This meeting was an exception. For the first time, the state allowed comments from an audience of about 40 people.

The state will conduct one more focus group at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 14, at Doubletree Hotel and Conference Center, 1 Wenona Park in Bay City. v

Jeremiah Stettler is a staff writer at the Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9685.

© 2005 Saginaw News

For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee 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.