EPA seeks public comment for cleaning up island in Tittabawassee River
 Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2011, 11:30 AM Lindsay Knake | The Saginaw News


Reach Island MM is a source of furan contamination in the Titabawassee River. The EPA has three proposed cleanup options.

KOCHVILLE TWP. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a proposed cleanup plan for an island in the Tittabawassee River.

The EPA has three proposed options to keep the Reach Island MM from releasing furans, a member of the dioxin chemical family, into the river. The island is near Weiss Street and M-47 in Saginaw Township.

“The island is showing erosion over time,” said EPA Interim Project Manager Mary Logan.

Dioxin is a group of chemical byproducts from combustion. People exposed to the human carcinogen can delay motor skills and neurodevelopment in children and impact growth, metabolism and reproductive hormones. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 95 percent of Americans have dioxins in their blood.

Dow Chemical Co. acknowledging releasing the chemical into the Tittabawassee River from the 1930s to the 1970s. The Midland-based company is working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the EPA to clean up the river system.

With the EPA’s preferred option, option two, Dow workers would remove contaminated sediment along the island bank and place a cap over the area, which would allow vegetation to grow, Logan said. The project could be about $500,000; Officials would continue to monitor the river to ensure the cleanup is working.

“Alternative two appeared most effective among the three options in effectiveness and implementability,” Logan said.

From April 22 to May 22, people can submit their own recommendations to the EPA. The agency is holding a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. April 28 at Saginaw Valley State University’s Curtiss Hall, 7400 Bay in Kochville Township.

Representatives from the EPA and MDEQ will be available to talk to residents one-on-one from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. April 28 at the Thomas Township Library, 8207 Shields.

The first option involves placing logs and armor stones on the banks of the island where the river flow is the strongest to prevent erosion, Logan said. The project estimated cost is $250,000.

The third and most expensive option is removing all contaminated sediments on and near the island. Costing $1.1 to $2 million, Logan said, the cleanup process could release toxins into the river in the short term.

EPA officials have yet to analyze how the options change the flow of the river, how they will dispose of contaminated sediments and the effectiveness of the cleanup. Cleanup work could change depending on what levels of contamination workers find, Logan said.

The Saginaw-Tittabawassee Rivers Contamination Community Advisory Group is putting together a comment for the EPA, but members had not reached a consensus at Monday’s meeting.

The members agreed doing nothing is a poor option, and many wanted to see a long term remedy to fix the problem so the EPA does not need to address it in the future.

Former Midland mayor and advisory group member Dummond Black said he was surprised the EPA is focusing so much on the project, and wanted to see further progress on the larger cleanup.

"I hope we don't have six more of these," the attorney said.

The EPA may find more sites similar to Island MM, Logan said, but she did not know of any.

“We are very serious about moving forward with the first segment,” she said. “We may find other banks we want to do immediate action on.”

The EPA does not have more information about the island at this time, Logan said, because officials want to get moving with the cleanup.

"Study it to death and never do anything is not an option we like," she said.

To view documents related to the site, visit the EPA website or visit the Dow Memorial Library at 1710 Saint Andrews in Midland, Hoyt Library at 505 Janes in Saginaw or the Wirt Public Library at 500 Center in Bay City.

Comments on the proposed plan may be submitted in writing to Community Involvement Coordinator Patricia Krause at EPA Region 5 (SI-7J), 77 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60604, by fax to Patricia Krause at (312) 697-2568 or online.

For further information, the EPA has an information office in the Saginaw County Governmental Center, 111 S. Michigan in Saginaw. Anyone in need of information can call 790-5215.


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.