Tests confirm elevated levels of dioxin at Tittabawassee River residences
Kathie Marchlewski , The Midland Daily News


Gary and Kathy Henry now know for certain that the picnics and playtimes they had in their riverside backyard had an uninvited guest – dioxin.

The Dow Chemical Co.’s attorneys have argued that plaintiffs – including the Henrys – who filed a lawsuit in March claiming Dow’s manufacturing processes deposited dioxin on their Tittabawassee riverfront properties hadn’t had their individual homes tested for the substance.

Plaintiffs were relying on the assumption that dioxin was there because of state warnings that it exists within the Tittabawassee River flood plain, Dow attorneys told the court.
But when Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials recently took soil samples from the Henrys’ back yard, they confirmed the plaintiffs’ worries.

Soil taken from the Henrys’ Freeland property showed levels more than 10 times the residential cleanup standard of 90 parts per trillion. Soil from the river bank, about 80 feet from their home, has 1,200 ppt of dioxin. A sample taken near the back door, which is outside of flood plain boundaries, showed 240 ppt.
"The 240 (ppt) at the back door really shocked me," Kathy Henry said. She said she and her husband expected high levels to be detected near the river, but not so close to the house.

"The house is up on a hill," she said. "I felt safe up here."

The couple moved furniture and swings away from the river about two years ago, when they learned of the dioxin troubles afflicting it. They now seldom use that part of their property. But they use the back entrance every day, several times a day.

Other plaintiffs’ yards also are being tested as part of the state’s investigation into the extent of the Tittabawassee River dioxin contamination.

The testing is unrelated to the lawsuit, but strengthens the now more than 200 plaintiffs’ case, said Kansas-based attorney Jan Helder.

"The evidence is piling on," he said. "It takes another argument away from (Dow)."

In the yard of John Taylor, another plaintiff, the DEQ found elevated levels of dioxin near a deck built off his River Road home and near a swing that sits by the river. The swing samples showed 410 ppt of dioxin and samples taken near the deck, 100 ppt.
İMidland Daily News 2003

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