Dow gets advice on cleanup

Thursday, September 4, 2003


What some call a "good start" has others crying "delay."

Dow Chemical Co. officials on Wednesday turned to property owners and government leaders for input on how to deal with dioxin woes along the Tittabawassee River.

After outlining short- and long-term goals for coping with contamination, company representatives tossed the question to a 35-member community advisory panel for suggestions.

The meeting was a forward step for Dow, said Michael Krecek, director and health officer of the Midland County Health Department.

"It was really good that Dow was there," he said. "There were some legitimate concerns raised by members of the panel that I think Dow took to heart. I felt like it was the beginning of improved dialogue and an improved relationship."

Krecek said Dow's plan for ridding the Tittabawassee riverbed and surrounding floodplain of dioxin needs more work, but called it a "good step."

Michelle Hurd-Riddick, a member of the environmental watchdog group Lone Tree Council, was less optimistic. She said Dow has not addressed the problem of human exposure to dioxin along the river.

She said the company is spending its time on community relations when the real need is cleanup.

"This is just a delay," Hurd-Riddick said. "Nothing says that cleanup is contingent on more study. We know where the hot spots are. Let's clean them up."

Susan S. Carrington, director of sustainable development for Dow, said gathering public input is not a stall tactic.

"We are required (by the state) in our scopes of work (proposals) to have public participation," she said. "The most valuable aspect (of that report) is to get this kind of input up front. This was a start. We want to hear from as many people as we can."

She said the company already has begun corrective actions along the river.

Crews installed hand-washing stations last month in Freeland Festival, Imerman and West Michigan parks. Mapping property lines and land uses in the floodplain is under way. And evaluations have begun for studying the impact of dioxin on wildlife.

The community advisory panel will meet again at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8. Department of Environmental Quality officials have not yet announced a location. t

Jeremiah Stettler is a staff writer for The Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9685.

© 2003 Saginaw News.