West Michigan Park, Saginaw's Riverside Drive will be retested for dioxin contamination after floods, Dow says
Published: Friday, May 06, 2011, 7:17 AM Updated: Friday, May 06, 2011, 9:36 AM By Barrie Barber | The Saginaw News

SAGINAW TWP. — West Michigan Park in Saginaw Township and Saginaw’s Riverside Drive, an 11-home subdivision, will be retested for dioxin contamination after heavy rains spilled the Tittabawassee River over its banks, a spokeswoman says.

The testing will begin next week in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, said Mary Draves, a Dow Chemical Co. spokeswoman. She could not say when results might be released.

As part of a dioxin remediation agreement, the Midland-based chemical giant agreed to test the two sites and clean up parks and boat launches in the aftermath of flooding, officials said.

Township Department of Public Services Director Herb “Sonny” Grunwell said a contractor removed topsoil and encapsulated dioxin contamination in some spots during a major remediation project at West Michigan Park in 2009.

“We don’t feel like it’s an unsafe environment for our residents,” he said.

Dioxins were released decades ago into the Tittabawassee River downstream of Dow’s chemical manufacturing in Midland, authorities have said.

The latest flood cleanup work will cover Imerman Memorial Park, West Michigan Park and the South Center Boat Launch in Saginaw Township; Freeland Festival Park in Freeland; and the Caldwell Boat Launch in Midland, Draves said.

A hired contractor will place wood chips on trails, clear muck from boat launch areas, wash picnic tables and asphalt roads and parking lots to clear sendiment, and ensure handwashing stations are available, among other measures, she said. The company will cover the expense.

“As soon as we are able to go and start flood response at parks, we will do that,” she said Thursday. “We have a very prescribed process that we follow.” At Imerman, cleanup started Thursday, said Saginaw County Parks and Recreation Director John P. Schmude.

“Usually takes a couple of weeks after a big flood event to clean everything up,” he said.

The boat launch may open earlier, however.

The brown floodwaters washed away some trees on the riverbank and dumped them across trailheads, said Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Tonya Huber. The waters pushed away wood chips workers had spread on trails and reached at least the 5-foot mark on a pile of wood chips near the submerged boat launch. The flood stretched to the front of the 96-acre park, near a brown building housing the main bathroom.

“We had easily 70 acres under the water,” she said.

The park had hoped to open for the Walleye Festival last weekend, she added. “We had the park almost completely ready to open for the walleye opening, and we were almost completely flooded,” she said.

Since 2004, Dow has sent crews at least once a year to clean up the park after seasonal floods, she noted.


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.