Public offers input on Dow dioxin

Kathie Marchlewski , The Midland Daily News


FREELAND – Area residents offered suggestions Wednesday about ways The Dow Chemical Co. can begin to resolve its dioxin problems.

Many said the work should begin immediately.

At a community meeting at Memorial Park, The Dow Chemical Co. offered an overview of the Scope of Work plan required for its recently-issued operating license and asked how the plan to remediate dioxin, deemed inadequate by the state Department of Environmental Quality, can be improved.

"What’s essential is for us to move forward together," said Dow spokeswoman Susan Carrington.
Attendees suggested contaminated soil be covered, parks with high levels of dioxin be closed, public information be provided, and exposure be limited by Dow-provided items such as dust masks.
They also suggested that a health study of people living in the flood plain for long periods of time be performed.

Dow already is conducting studies on the river, in Midland soil, and on wildlife and people living in contaminated areas.

But some residents are questioning the need to delay action with further studies.
"You’ve got the results, you’ve got the data," said Sandy Mannion, referring to studies already conducted by the DEQ. "You said there’s a lot we don’t know about dioxin – there’s a lot you do know."
Midland Mayor R. Drummond Black agreed that Dow’s plan to address the toxin in soils and rivers appears stretched-out.

"Compress your schedule and get to it as quickly as possible," he suggested, adding that Midland residents, who have dealt with the knowledge of dioxin for years, are looking forward to a conclusive health study.

Dow has contacted residents of Saginaw’s Riverside Boulevard, where high levels of the contaminant have been detected, and is prepared to move forward with exposure studies and blood sampling for them, Carrington said.

The company also has installed hand-washing stations at parks known to have dioxin, and has been talking to hunters and sportsmen about collecting and testing deer and turkey hunted in the upcoming season. There are plans to identify the exact location and topography of the flood plain area and to increase the availability of dioxin information.

"There’s potentially an enormous amount of work here," Carrington said. "We can’t do it instantly."
The meeting was the first working session for the Community Advisory Panel, which was brought together by the DEQ and is comprised of concerned citizens, representatives from affected areas, the Michigan Department of Community Health and environmental groups including the Lone Tree Council. Additional meetings for the public to offer comments will be conducted in upcoming weeks.

For more information about the meetings or offering input, contact Cheryl Howe at the DEQ,

©Midland Daily News 2003