The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's rejection of Dow Chemical Co.'s cleanup plan for the Tittabawassee River flood plain should prompt the state Department of Environmental Quality to put more pressure on the chemical giant to stop testing the public's patience.
Deliberate or not, the plan's deficiencies further push back the timeline for cleanup of the toxins in the flood plain. The Midland-based company hands its critics more credibility and ammunition when it repeatedly tests the cleanup process, started in 2001, and delays action on a public health risk.
Nor was this a question of Dow failing to dot the i's and cross t's.
The EPA said Dow's work plan was so flawed it wasn't worth the agency's time or effort to complete a comprehensive review. The agency said the plan failed to comply with accepted state and federal methodology. The company also didn't propose a sufficient sampling of sediment along 22 miles of river.
Dow now has another 60 days to address its cleanup plan's deficiencies before environmental regulators begin their fuller review. Continual delays of two months here and two months there and soon the Saginaw Valley is staring at another decade of exposure to dioxin. The results of a University of Michigan professor's study of dioxin exposure levels in flood plain residents is expected later this year. The byproduct of manufacturing processes, released from Dow's Midland complex over decades, has settled in river sediment and in soil in the flood plain. Tests have also detected high dioxin levels in the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.
Environmentalists and Dow dispute dioxin's human health risks, but the substance is linked to cancer, birth defects and organ failure.
The public health concerns and the impact of the contamination on local property values will persist until the state Department of Environmental Quality approves Dow's plan for remediation or cleanup. Dow's reputation as a corporate citizen with a long, proud history of supporting its community suffers with the delays.
It is critical to the region, the state and the company, one of the region's biggest employers, to get the cleanup plan right. Coming up with a realistic cleanup proposal starts with Dow getting it right on its end. In this and other go-rounds in the dioxin controversy, one of the nation's largest corporations has failed. The state must emphasize to Dow that the delays are unacceptable.
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.