EPA to evaluate 260 homes in Great Lakes Bay Region for dioxin levels this year
Published: Saturday, January 15, 2011, 9:30 AM
By Lindsay Knake | The Saginaw News

SAGINAW TWP. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will evaluate 260 homes along the Tittabawassee River for dioxin exposure this year.

In some cases, residents can expect the EPA to order work this spring and summer designed to protect homes and properties from soil contaminated by the chemical, Remedial Project Manager Mary Logan said. Those measures could include adding more ground cover or moving soil, raising gardens and moving fire pits, for example.

The agency also is seeking public input on an interim plan to deal with dioxin and furan contamination at a hearing on Wednesday at Saginaw Valley State University.

The EPA has a three-point strategy for the region this year. That strategy calls for addressing contamination at high-use properties along the rivers, addressing highly contaminated segments along river banks to keep chemicals from moving down the river system that leads to Saginaw Bay and working with Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment to develop long-term cleanup plans for the rivers and bay, Logan said.

“We’re proposing interim actions along the Tittabawassee River, because we think that it’s reasonable to limit contact with contaminated soil with a bigger cleanup option in the future,” Logan said. “We’re doing this because a site like ours ... (is) going to take a long time to clean up.”

The total project site includes 22 miles of the Tittabawassee River, 22 miles of the Saginaw River and 300 square miles of the Saginaw Bay.

In 2008 and 2009, the EPA completed work at 18 homes along the Saginaw River.

In recent years, Dow Chemical Co. acknowledged its 1,900-acre Midland plant polluted the watershed with dioxins and furans from the 1930s to the 1970s. The chemical byproducts are linked to cancer, reproductive problems and weakened immune systems in laboratory animals.

Public Meetings

• Tittabawassee-Saginaw Rivers Contamination Community Advisory Group, 6 p.m. Monday at the Four Points Sheraton, 4960 Towne Center in Saginaw Township

• Informal public hearing 5-8 p.m. Tuesday at Freeland SportsZone, 5690 Midland, in Freeland

• Informal public hearing 1-4 p.m. Wednesday at Thomas Township Library, 8207 Shields Drive, in Thomas Township

• Public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Seminar Rooms D-G, Curtiss Hall, Saginaw Valley State University

Residents will have the chance to learn more and share their opinions on the cleanup plan at three public hearings this week. The EPA is holding a hearing at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Saginaw Valley State University, and two smaller, informal sessions from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Freeland SportsZone in Freeland and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday at the Thomas Township Library.

The regular Tittabawassee-Saginaw Rivers Contamination Community Advisory Group meeting is 6 p.m. Monday at the Four Points Sheraton in Saginaw Township, said EPA Community Involvement Coordinator Patricia Krause. The EPA helped form the group in 2009 to connect with the public about the clean up and to receive feedback.

The environmental agency will hold another public forum in the spring to propose cleanup options in a three-mile segment of the Tittabawassee River near the Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland. Construction for that cleanup will start in 2012, Logan said.

Residents with questions can call Krause at (800) 621-8431. Comments also may be e-mailed to Krause at krause.patricia@epa.gov.

Lone Tree Council member Michelle Hurd-Riddick resigned from the community advisory group because she felt the group was not addressing the cleanup well.

The Lone Tree Council, a Bay City-based environmental group, would like to see the EPA place sediment traps into the Saginaw River, reimburse families for their homes if they decide to move and educate people who eat fish from the rivers, Hurd-Riddick said.
Comments Feed View
zagmeyer January 15, 2011 at 11:15AM

EPA relocated a neighborhood in Florida that had 200 ppt. of dioxin. Tittabawasse residents have thousands, and tens of thousands ppt. of dioxin that is replenished every time it floods in their yards.
What they are offering here is pitiful. It will not protect the residents. You can thank Dow and your local and state politicians and the chamber of commerce for this, as well as the corrupt EPA. Protect the profits above public health always!

challenger04 January 15, 2011 at 11:44AM

zagmeyer, I agree with you. While we're at it, don't forget the pollution caused by GM in Bay City. The politicos' solution? Post shameful signs warning everyone not to eat the fish (too often) from the Saginaw river. I wonder what the tourists think of that? Oops! What tourists?

I remember when every bar and restaurant in the Bay and Tuscola areas had excellent Friday fish frys. The good ole days...

smokin' monkey January 15, 2011 at 11:55AM

@challenger04, they should now have "political frys" on friday of all the politicians who were on the take and allowed this to happen to our beautiful river system.

challenger04 January 15, 2011 at 12:27PM

Yes, smokin'monkey, you are aiming at the right target. Had they even thought about protecting our greatest resource, we would have fisherman lining the river shores, and commercial fishermen and restaurants (serving tourists and locals) making a living here.

zagmeyer January 15, 2011 at 1:06PM

Dow's dioxin actually can be cleaned up. GE is doing it on the Hudson River in New York right now for PCB's. Locally, it's okay to spend millions of dollars to dredge the shipping channel on the Saginaw for a few dozen barges every year. But God forbid that EPA make Dow do it in order to stop poisoning the remaining fishermen, wildlife and floodplain residents. I love fish, but am wise enough not to touch anything from here. And NO ONE should be living on the Tittabawassee south of Midland!

rosebud January 15, 2011 at 1:36PM

No matter how much Dow donates to local charities it will never make up for the lives they have ruined or cut short. And time moves on and nothing gets done. Shame on you Dow.

toenail37 January 15, 2011 at 4:10PM

Are you implying that both Dows aren't nice, benevolent companies? They're "good" corporate citizens that only give to the community to help people, not for a public relations smokescreen (green wash) to cover-up the damage they've caused.

Michelle January 15, 2011 at 3:01PM

“The Lone Tree Council, a Bay City-based environmental group, would like to see the EPA place sediment traps into the Saginaw River, reimburse families for their homes if they decide to move and educate people who eat fish from the rivers, Hurd-Riddick said”

In response to Ms Knake’s question “What do your think of EPA’s Plans for 2011”

What I said was Lone Tree Council would like to see an option in the EPA plan for relocations of residents as an interim response or final remedy particularly if women of childbearing age or children live on the property. Reimbursement would be at the Dow’s expense, not EPA. I also stated we were interested in knowing EPA’s financial commitment and support to MDCH to continue their work addressing education of subsistence fishing by residents along the river. As for the sediment traps I said I wanted EPA to use their authority and require Dow to place the sediment traps in the river to stop the migration of contaminated sediments to the Saginaw Bay.
Context is important.

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council


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.