Dow responds to dioxin contamination lawsuit
Monday May 17, 2003
SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) - Dow Chemical Co. has submitted a response to a class-action lawsuit filed by 26 Saginaw County residents over dioxin
contamination.
The residents sued Dow in March, saying contamination caused by its
Midland manufacturing plant threatened their health and left their
property worthless.
But Dow said in a response filed Friday in Saginaw County Circuit
Court that there is no proof that excessive dioxin levels exist in the
plaintiffs' yards, the Midland Daily News reported Saturday.
Dioxins are highly toxic byproducts of manufacturing and incineration
systems and may cause cancer, birth defects and other health problems in humans.
The lawsuit seeks to represent about 2,000 people who have lived
along the Tittabawassee River and flood plain since January 1984. About
120 plaintiffs now are involved in the lawsuit, said their attorney, Jan
P. Helder Jr.
In the lawsuit, the residents ask the court to make Dow establish a
medical monitoring trust fund for them. The fund would pay for dioxin
poisoning testing and treatment, as well as for studies of the toxins'
effects and possible cures.
Dow's response includes a motion to dismiss half the complaint's
counts, including the medical monitoring request.
"Dow has a very strong belief that this has no merit," company
spokeswoman Sarah Opperman said of the lawsuit.
The company's response argues that the plaintiffs have not been told
by a medical professional that they have been injured by dioxins or will
be in the future.
Dow also disputes the plaintiffs' claims about their declining
property values.
"All of the information we have indicates that property has continued
to sell at, near or above asking prices," said Susan Carrington,
director for sustainable development at Dow's Michigan Operations
division.
Helder said Dow's opposition was expected.
"It shows Dow's lack of recognition of the significance of the
problem," he said.
Last year Dow tried to broker a deal with the state Department of
Environmental Quality that would have raised allowable dioxin
contamination levels nine-fold in Midland. The deal, however, fell apart
in December.
Michigan's current standard is 90 parts per trillion. Levels as high
as 7,300 parts per trillion have been detected in some contaminated
areas, the lawsuit contends