EPA, DEQ have dioxin agreement with Dow Chemical Co. in place
By Tony Lascari tlascari@mdn.net Midland Daily News
Published: Saturday, January 16, 2010 6:33 AM EST

Federal and state environmental officials have signed an agreement with The Dow Chemical Co. that develops a path toward cleaning up dioxin contamination in local rivers.

The agreement outlines steps that will result in a comprehensive Superfund evaluation of dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay, along with their floodplains. According to the EPA, the agreement requires Dow, which is responsible for much of the contamination, to identify cleanup options and to design the remedy that EPA ultimately selects.

Dow signed the agreement in October, then the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality opened a public comment period to gather input.

Work can begin immediately, starting with identifying segments on the Tittabawassee River and collecting additional data for the first segment. The EPA said work also will include planning for how to address high-use properties along the rivers and the erosion of highly contaminated soil and sediment.

"Community involvement has been and will continue to be a centerpiece of our efforts to comprehensively address the site," said EPA Assistant Administrator for Solid Waste and Emergency Response Mathy Stanislaus. "This order reflects Administrator (Lisa) Jackson's commitment to first review the site status, and then move toward an effective cleanup."

Jim Sygo, MDEQ interim director said the order is the result of an "incredible effort" by MDEQ and EPA staff who worked tirelessly to develop the information necessary to get to this point.

"I am confident that the progress we have made will continue forward, and real cleanup action will come soon to this region," he said.

Dow spokeswoman Mary Draves said Dow is committed to moving forward with implementation of the agreement.

"The agreement really marks a significant step towards resolution," she said, because it sets a systematic approach to understanding the river system. "That evaluation we're going to do will serve as the basis for decisions for action in the future."

Dow supports the community involvement process and will have a representative serve as an ex officio member on the Community Advisory Group.

"Community involvement is meaningful," she said. 'It helps folks understand what we're going to go do."

The EPA and MDEQ made no changes to the agreement, officially called an administrative order on consent, from what was presented to the public. The EPA received comments from more than 60 individuals and groups. It said most were supportive and related to the implementation of work under the settlement, rather than to the agreement itself.

The EPA issued a document addressing public comments, including issues such as proceeding with cleanup promptly, attention to the concerns of property owners along the river, potential economic impacts to the region and how community input will be considered. Community members will be engaged through a Community Advisory Group, which will receive updates on technical work.

Lone Tree Council Chairman Terry Miller had mixed feelings about the agreement.

"I think it's good to get on with the process of the cleanup," he said. "It's a bit disappointing they didn't acknowledge some of the concerns the citizens had and didn't modify the agreement in any way."

Miller said they raised concerns about the level of transparency, proper testing and a confined disposal facility.

"Hopefully we'll be able to address those with the representatives of the CAG," he said.

With the EPA recently proposing a new interim preliminary remediation goal of 72 parts per trillion of dioxin for residential land uses, there has been some positive news, Miller said. That number is not meant to be a site-specific cleanup requirement, rather a guide for determining levels for each site.

"It'll be nice to see the process move on now and hopefully the assurances we've been given that a cleanup will occur, will occur," Miller said.

The administrative order on consent and the responsiveness summary will be posted at www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical.
 

http://ourmidland.com/articles/2010/01/16/local_news/2358345.txt


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.