More reactions from Great Lakes Bay Region residents on EPA plan to clean up dioxin
Published: Thursday, January 20, 2011, 8:00 PM Updated: Friday, January 21, 2011, 6:28 AM
By Lindsay Knake | The Saginaw News

Saginaw Township resident Richard Honig stands on the bank of the Tittabawassee River, which runs along the rear of his property in just off Midland Road in Saginaw. Honig said he hopes to eventually leave the property due to dioxin contamination in and around the river.

SAGINAW TWP. — Richard Honig is upset about the slow cleanup progress of the dioxin and furans in the Tittabawassee River.

The Saginaw Township’s home lies along the Tittabawassee River, and he is concerned about rising levels of the toxins during floods.

“Dioxin is a problem,” he said.

Honig is one of about 50 people were in attendance at a public forum Wednesday at Saginaw Valley State University to learn more about the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's remedial cleanup plan and give feedback.

Remedial Project Manager Mary Logan said the interim cleanup is meant to limit human exposure to dioxins and furans in the short term until the final cleanup.

Dioxin and furans are toxic chemical byproducts that leaked from Dow Chemical Co.’s Midland plant into the Tittabawassee River from the 1930s to the 1970s. The chemicals are linked to cancer, reproductive problems and weakened immune systems in laboratory animals.

Mary Draves, Dow external engagement leader, said the company believes public participation, community engagement and public comment are important parts of the cleanup process.

“We continue to work in collaboration with the (Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment) and the EPA to implement the current agreement and are focused on resolution of the issue,” she said.

Honig, who is laid off from General Motors, hunts, fishes and traps in the area and is worried about the health of the local wildlife. He also is concerned about recontamination. The EPA needs to dredge the rivers and cap contaminated areas, he said, and eliminate the problem.

While Honig loves his home, he said, he believes Dow should offer buyouts to those who want to leave the contaminated areas.

Dow Chemical Co. is focused on making the cleanup as cheap as possible, he said.

To help protect his family, Honig moved his garden closer to his house and uses topsoil. He said he cannot be sure it isn’t contaminated.

Other residents and activists say relocation is an essential option to keep residents safe.

Michelle Hurd-Riddick a member of the Bay City-based environmental group Lone Tree Council, said the cleanup actions are late and long overdue.

She recommended the EPA conduct more thorough investigation at homes with children.

Relocation, whether interim or permanent, should be an option for residents, Hurd-Riddick said, with the EPA and Dow giving clearly articulated reasons for denials.

Laura Burtt of Saginaw Township said she believes the criteria the EPA has for who will receive work during the cleanup is poor.

"Relocation is the only answer," she said at the forum.

Burtt lives close to where the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers connect, and said she has lost three dogs to kidney cancer.

Thomas township resident John Taylor, who lives along the Tittabawassee River, said he no longer believes or trusts Dow or the EPA because they were aware of the high levels of dioxin in the area for decades and did nothing to clean it up until the last few years.

“The only action acceptable is relocation,” he said at the forum.

The EPA is seeking comments from the public until Feb. 11.

Take a look at the EPA's 2011 plans for the Tittabawassee River.

Comments Feed View:
zagmeyer January 20, 2011 at 10:28PM

What the EPA, State of Michigan, politicians, local leaders and Dow are doing, and have done to these residents is nothing short of CRUEL.

In God's name, do the right thing for once and remove the residents from the contaminated properties, and clean up the river so Dow can no longer poison the fishermen and hunters down river.

B'wana January 21, 2011 at 6:29AM

How long are the crimes against the citizens going to be tolerated? People are dying because of Dow!

For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee River Watch web site 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.