DEQ agrees with EPA dioxin plan concerns

Kathie Marchlewski, Midland Daily News 02/24/2006

Following a harsh assessment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has followed suit with its draft of suggested improvements to The Dow Chemical Co.'s plans to remediate local dioxin contamination.

According to the preliminary documents shared with Dow and made public through a request by Bay City-based Lone Tree Council under the Freedom of Information Act, the DEQ is in "substantial agreement" with the EPA, which called Dow's proposed efforts "severely inadequate," "unacceptable," and "fundamentally flawed." While the DEQ draft doesn't use the same language, the EPA commentary is attached and the major points of contention repeated.

Dow submitted its state-mandated plans at year end, detailing studies that would determine how much dioxin contaminates Midland, the Tittabawassee River and its flood plain, and how far the historically deposited toxin has stretched. The variety of studies is intended to provide a basis for determining clean-up strategies. The company also will be testing for other potentially harmful chemical compounds. The DEQ is accepting public comment on the plans until March 15.

Among the concerns thus far -- that Dow's proposed soil and sediment sampling plan is not intensive enough and that its timeline is too long. While the company proposed testing in phases that stretched into 2008, the EPA recommended that the schedule be substantially shrunk to a completion date in 2006. The DEQ said a schedule is still under discussion.

Dow spokesman John Musser said Dow would not comment on the company's plans to address concerns until it receives formal comments from the DEQ.

"Despite the criticism from EPA, we continue to believe the work plans we submitted are representative of the highest caliber of expertise and the most time and cost efficient approach that can be taken consistent with the requirements of our operating license and the law," Musser said.

DEQ spokesman Bob McCann said the draft comments are a starting point for dialogue between the state and Dow. "The goal is to get this plan into workable shape," he said.

The DEQ is expected to formally comment on the Dow work plans next week, starting the 60-day timer within which Dow must resubmit.

Dow's workplans are available at

İMidland Daily News 2006

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