Mid-Michigan environmentalist not satisfied with Dow Chemical's proposal to buy Midland homes in contaminated zones

Mlive, Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 12:37 PM Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012, 4:16 PM

By Justin Engel | jengel1@mlive.com Follow

MIDLAND — An environmental advocate says Dow Chemical Co.'s offer to buy 50 properties from residents within two dioxin-contaminated districts is a step in the right direction but falls short of a final solution.

Michelle Hurd-Riddick, a member of the Great Lakes Bay-based environmental group The Lone Tree Council, called the proposal “a win-win for economic development, but more so for public health.”

But Hurd-Riddick said she remains disappointed the proposal is limited to two districts within Midland, considering scientists have recorded higher levels of dioxin along the Tittabawasee River, downstream from a Dow plant where officials say much of the decades-old contamination likely began.

“I'm happy for the people in Midland, but I'd like to see this for (residents) where those exposures are higher,” she said.

Dow has funded studies of soil downstream from the Midland plant for years. Several designated areas have contained dioxin levels high enough that Dow funded clean-up efforts along the river including dredging efforts.

In 2007, crews cleaned up the riverbed near Saginaw's Wickes Park, where a top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency scientist said testing uncovered one of the most — if not the most – contaminated soil samples ever found in U.S. waterways.

Hurd-Riddick added she “doesn't think Dow is doing this out of the goodness of their hearts.”

Those Midland residents who could sell their property to Dow have the option to stay in their homes and ask Dow to test the property's soil, officials say. An additional 1,450 properties surrounding the 50 properties also have the option to have their soil tested. If the soil contains high enough dioxin levels, Dow would hire crews to clean up the site by removing the soil, company spokeswoman Mary Draves said.

The dioxin threshold level for remediating soil is 250 parts per trillion. Officials say residents with soil registering 250 parts per trillion or lower will not have the option to have their property cleaned up.

Hurd-Riddick said she suspects many of the homes in Midland won't have soil contaminated enough to warrant remediation.
 

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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.