Dioxin Update
Lone Tree Council and TRW

April 8 , 2008 #117

 Natural Resource Damage Assessment

Yesterday  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released for public comment the draft Natural Resource Damage Assessment plan for the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and Saginaw Bay in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties.

The release is  centered on investigation activities being conducted by the Trustees of the NRDA as they evaluate the type and extent of resources lost  as a result of Dow’s dioxin contamination.

This NRDA document permits all of us a candid painful look at the long history of Dow's extensive contamination. It gives us perhaps a more candid and painful perspective on how long the regulatory agencies have been grappling with this company. Thirty plus years is outrageous.  The repeated injury to resources, property and Lake Huron from decades of Dow using the river as their own personal sewer is beyond sad.

The Trustees are taking comments on their plan to evaluate damages. Issues of monetary compensation are well down the road. As said before, public and resource losses cannot be ascertained nor fully compensated for until such time as the full extent of the contamination is know highlighting the need for  Dow to submit  solid work plans to the state. The process is not punitive. The intent is to make the public whole again.

Comments on the draft assessment plan will be accepted through May 19 and should be submitted to Dr. Lisa Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2651 Coolidge Road, Suite 101, East Lansing, MI 48823.

Hard copies also will be available at the Bay City DEQ office on 503 N. Euclid Ave.

A public meeting on the draft is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 17 in the Great Hall B at the Best Western Valley Plaza Inn, 5221 Bay City Road, Midland.

The draft is posted online at: www.fws.gov/midhttp://www.fws.gov/midwest/TittabawasseeRiverNRDA/documents/TRSAA_NRDA_PLAN_APRIL_2008.pdfwest





People are always going to agree and disagree on many aspect of this contamination issue. But one would think that everyone would at least be in agreement on community right to know and being  transparent about process and the people’s business and how  that business is conducted. After all we own these highly contaminated resources and their restoration is of paramount importance.  Sadly, on March 25th the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted to support Resolution B put forth by Commissioners Wurtzel (Thomas Twp) and Ann Doyle (Tittabawassee Twp). This resolution asks EPA to step back into the lead and resume negotiations with Dow Chemical…..essentially a continuation of the closed-door negotiations that EPA ended in January after Dow Chemical failed to deliver on substantive issues like public health protection. 


Troubling enough that the BOC supported shutting the door on transparency but it would appear they did not even deliberate or contact MDEQ or EPA for input. Commissioner Bartels was correct to make a motion to send the Resolution to County Services where is could be vetted. But the board voted it down and passed the resolution with 10 votes.   In a letter to the BOC, Lone Tree Council chided them for passing a resolution, which essentially told the residents/taxpayers of Saginaw County three things:


1. Dow does not need to play by the rules or the laws of the land

2. It’s OK for negotiations to take place behind closed doors over this public resource

3. Dow does not have to honor their contract signed in June 2003


Please visit the TRW news web site for the Resolution passed by the board and Lone Tree Council’s letter regarding it.


The following will take you to the Saginaw News story about Resolution B:



The Board of Commissioner did not deliberate and apparently did not inquire what MDEQ or EPA thought about their resolution.  On March 2, a full three weeks before the Board voted on Resolution B, EPA and MDEQ sent a letter to Dow Chemical articulating the significance and accomplishments of the two agencies working together, specifically citing the removal activities on Reaches D, JK, O and at Wickes Park. It was the collaboration of the two agencies that resulted in more work being done in one summer than had been accomplished in 30 years. In their  letter  supporting the RCRA process, which requires public involvement and transparency, both MDEQ and EPA told Dow Chemical their respective agencies were moving forward together to address the issue.


A letter from Dow Chemical’s Greg Cochran perplexed over the company being subject to the authority of two agencies prompted MDEQ and EPA to send Dow the above letter. These letters are all available on the DEQ web site http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3307_29693_21234-115743--,00.html or at www.trwnews.net.  

Commissioner Wurtzel admonished his fellow board members to get “some guts” and pass the resolution.  Well there is nothing gutsy about Commissioner Wurtzel’s resolution.  Snubbing one’s nose at a transparent public process or advocating keeping the public in the dark is frankly cowardly.

We owe many thanks to Commissioners Woods, Foxx and Ruth for voting against the resolutions and in support of community right to know.  


Best Regards,

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

Source: Lone Tree Council / TRW

For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee River Watch web site www.trwnews.net. for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga.. The source organization's web site link is listed above. The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.