Chamber of Commerce asks DEQ to be removed in dioxin negotiations

Friday, December 21, 2007 | 8:01 PM

Chamber believes leaked letter about Dow was no accident

By Terry Camp SAGINAW (WJRT)

 -- (12/21/07)--The Saginaw Chamber of Commerce is asking the Department of Environmental Quality to be removed from negotiations in the Dow Chemical dioxin cleanup process.

It's also calling for an investigation into an accidentally leaked government memo, which was critical of Dow. The Saginaw County Chamber plans on forming a coalition to lobby the removal of the DEQ from the dioxin issue, and it believes the leaked memo was no accident.

The letter is in the mail to other chamber of commerce organizations across the state, asking them to join the Coalition for Reasonable Regulations.

The plan is to lobby Gov. Jennifer Granholm and legislators to remove the Department of Environmental Quality from the dioxin negotiating process.

"We are encouraging that Dow just deal with one agency -- the national agency, the EPA, and we eliminate the DEQ on this," the DEQ's Bob McCann.

"The EPA has made it clear they have taken over the negotiations, so in our opinion, there really isn't a role anymore for the DEQ," said the chamber's Veronica Horn. "I think that is an unfortunate reaction to make," McCann said.

McCann says it has been his agency -- not the Environmental Protection Agency -- that is responsible for getting to this point in the dioxin cleanup process, as a fourth hotspot cleanup project in the Saginaw and Tittabawassee rivers has just been completed.

"Prior to 2003, the EPA had direct oversight of this cleanup project and did virtually nothing to move either the investigation of contamination or the cleanup process to move forward," McCann said.

The chamber is also asking the inspector general's office to conduct an investigation into how an internal EPA memo critical of Dow Chemical got into the hands of the environmental group Lone Tree Council.

The contents of the letter were made public two weeks ago. The EPA says it was accidentally leaked, but both Van Deventer and Horn are not so sure. "Because of the fact that this document didn't have an author or a date, it did raise some questions in our mind," Horn said.

The EPA had no comment on the request for the DEQ to be removed from the dioxin discussions, but did announce Friday it is extending a negotiating deadline with Dow on a cleanup plan.
 


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