MIDLAND, Mich. - Cleanup of some soil contamination in the Tittabawassee River could begin late this month.
It is the latest step in a plan to address dioxin pollution in the region. Some of the contamination may have been present for several decades, flowing downstream from a Dow Chemical Co. factory in Midland.
Dioxins are a family of chemicals produced by combustion or other industrial processes. Some dioxins have been linked to cancer.
The state and Dow have an agreement to address the contamination. Workers hired by Dow have been collecting soil samples from a roughly six-mile area in and around the river, studying dioxin levels.
A full report is expected in February. But preliminary samples have turned up contamination levels far higher than allowed by state standards, including some higher-than-expected levels within the riverbanks, according to articles published Thursday by The Saginaw News and Midland Daily News.
"We were expecting we might find some high numbers," said Michigan Department of Environmental Quality spokesman Robert McCann. "I wouldn't say we are shocked, but we are concerned."
Dow plans to remove the soil with the highest contamination levels. But first the company wants to determine the size of the highly contaminated area.
"We could have gotten it in the sample jar," said Dow spokesman John Musser. "It could be that small, or it could be as big as a football field."
The state's action level for dioxin is 90 parts per trillion. Samples have been found as high as 87,000 parts per trillion.
The cleanup techniques likely will include dredging to remove the soil.
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