Scope of more work

Kathie Marchlewski , The Midland Daily News


The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality expects The Dow Chemical Co. to take immediate action to address contamination in local soils and river sediments.

After reviewing the "Scope of Work" Dow submitted last week as a requirement of its recently issued hazardous waste facility operating license, the DEQ has asked the company to make revisions and put corrective actions in motion.

"We expected implementable work plans to be submitted," said Cheryl Howe, of the MDEQ Waste and Hazardous Materials Division. "What Dow proposed to do is more investigation on those issues. That wasn’t what we were looking for."

The scope of work is an outline of short- and long-term remediation plans, and Dow spokeswoman Sarah Opperman said Dow expected the DEQ to make further recommendations on the draft. "It’s pretty normal that you’re going to have the discussion back and forth and fine-tuning," Opperman said.

The DEQ will announce in upcoming weeks two meetings where the public will be invited to comment on Dow’s proposals. The DEQ considers the existing scope of work draft inadequate.
Howe and Dow officials both say community input will be important in determining what immediate actions should be taken.

"What’s important to us is getting started on these interim actions," Opperman said. Howe mentioned possibilities including the re-sodding of yards in areas known to have high levels of dioxin in the soil, and cleaning or replacing carpet in homes where contaminated soil may have been tracked in and deposited into carpet fiber.

"We hope that Dow will present a range of options," Howe said, adding that the DEQ is hoping Dow will begin visiting with residents in areas such as Saginaw’s Riverside Boulevard neighborhood, where dioxin is suspected to be in high levels.

Howe said Dow also will be expected to address Midland soils, particularly in residential neighborhoods to the north and northeast of the Michigan Operations plant, where wind might have carried emissions from historical operations.

"We want Dow to go out fairly quickly and do some sampling in those areas. That was done for the Tittabawassee River flood plain, but not for Midland," Howe said.

Also on the DEQ agenda is a discussion about contaminants other than dioxin and furans, which have become the focal point of most community concerns "We believe those might not be the only contaminants of concern in river sediments and Midland soils," Howe said.

Dow has already taken some action to prevent human exposure to contaminants. The DEQ applauds the efforts, but may request improvements, Howe said.

Handwashing stations have been installed at three Tittabawassee riverside parks including Freeland Festival Park and Immerman Park, so that visitors can wash away potentially hazardous soil.
"We are pleased that they went out and put out the handwashing stations, but there’s nothing that says why the handwashing stations are there," Howe said. Dow may be asked to provide additional signage to inform visitors of the potential dioxin hazard.