Lone Tree Council and TRW

DIOXIN UPDATE # 140

May 16 , 2009

www.trwnews.net

 

"An appeaser is one who feeds everyone else around him to the crocodile, in hopes he'll eat him last." -Winston Churchill

 

 

1. DEQ dioxin meeting May 6 2009

A fairly comprehensive PowerPoint presentation by MDEQ detailed the progress on the upper Tittabawassee River. The presentation also detailed a veritable cesspool of chemicals Dow Chemical vented to the river via outfall pipes.  Dow Chemical declined to participate in the meeting, talk, discuss or share any of their disagreements or plans at the meeting. Even when asked a question they sat in silence--- The Power Point/PDF is up on the DEQ website at the following link.

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-whm-hwp-Dow-Community-Meeting-presentation-Rev-5-6-2009_277906_7.pdf

 

Information shared at the meeting or in the Power Point. (Pg numbers refer to the link above)  

1. Final plans from Dow for the Tittabawassee River are due June 1

2. Dow is refusing to pay for the enhanced fish advisory signs and will no longer pay for the stenographer so the meetings are transcribed and made available to the public.

3. Dow is not doing any work on the Saginaw River. Work that is being done is being conducted by the agencies and paid for by the financially strapped taxpayers

4. There are 30 plus historic out falls (pg. 21):  Literal sewers where Dow released hundreds of chemicals to the river besides dioxins and furans (pg 13). These areas are a priority and progress is being made. 

5. Detailed pictures of highly contaminated anode material used by Dow to shore up the banks near Founders Park. (Pg 9-10) This material has been an ongoing source of contamination to the river. This chlor-alkali material is in the river sediments as well as on the banks of the river.

 6. Miles of eroding and highly contaminated banks remain an ongoing source of contamination to the river (pg 26)

7.  Remediation at Reach D near the Dow plant site suffered significant scouring, releasing a number of chemicals from the sediment. The site was not fully characterized for contaminants and EPA jumped the gun a bit too quick in issuing their removal order in 2007.

8. Interim Response Decision Tree (pg 57) detailing a game plan to deal with various levels of contamination. This is important information for property owners and for contaminated river banks and sediments in the river.

9. Detailed graphic showing highly contaminated residential properties. ( pg 58)

10. Limited sampling (after all these years in the City of Midland). Most numbers are below a 1,000 ppt but greater than 200 ppt over large areas of residential properties. (Pg 60)

 11. Response activities are underway by Dow at West Michigan Park and Riverside(*one admonition see below)

 

2. Eat Smart Fish Smart

EPA came through (APPLUASE, APPLUASE ) with a $75,000 for MDCH to target at risk populations eating contaminated fish from our local chemically impacted waters

 

§Women of childbearing age, pregnant women, mothers nursing babies

§Children under the age of 15 years old

§Shore-line fishers

§People who fish and eat those fish for sustenance

 

Key Partners with MDC and EPA are Saginaw and Bay County Health Departments, First Ward Community Center and the Friends of Bay City State Park Recreation Area. Non federal matching funds in kind total $77,000 (More Applause) 

 

 

3. University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Investigation

Statistician John Kern, hired by the Department of Environmental Quality to review the UM dioxin exposure investigation recently advised regulators not to use the Dow-funded University of Michigan study as a basis for decisions about dealing with the dioxin contamination-at least until problems identified were fixed. You can link to the report on the TRW home page.

It was pointed out that out of 900 + residents whose blood was sampled only 14 lived on properties where concentrations exceeded 1,000 ppt of dioxin.

MDEQ stated when all the data had been evaluated the agency would then decide on the appropriate use of the UMEI.

 

4. EPA and the Superfund Alternative Site

Region V EPA representative stated they (Region V) were awaiting direction from headquarters on how the federal government would proceed with Dow Chemical.  However, Dow remains legally obligated under their operating permit (RCRA a federal regulation) to advance categorization, sample, provide work plans and take response action.

Here is the link to the EPA Region V website dealing with Dow’s mess: http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical/index.htm

Here is the link to EPA Administrator’s letter to Lone Tree Council responding to our request and the request of river residents and state wide environmental orgs to evaluate the Superfund Alternative process initiated during the Bush Administration. To that end EPA has suspended the negotiation process. Administrator Jackson will make a decision on how to proceed.

http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical/pdfs/admin-jackson-letter-200903.pdf

 

Comments and perspective

 The sheer magnitude of this site is enormous in terms of complexity, toxicity and geographic size. And Dow digging in their heels and dictating the terms of engagement with state is destructive and disservice to the community and the resource.  Bottom line Dow does not want to deal with 1. MDEQ/RCRA 2. Saginaw River 3. Saginaw Bay ----- hence the company’s request for superfund alternative process which would give EPA the lead and not MDEQ.

 

Will expound with greater detail in the next update but to demonstrate the impact of Dow’s refusal to  address Saginaw River issues? Dredging has started on the Saginaw River, which has minimal sampling to date. EPA and MDEQ both acknowledge this process will re suspend contaminated sediments in the water column advancing migration to the already sediment impaired Saginaw Bay. BUT DOW DUG IN THEIR HEELS AND REFUSES TO DEAL WITH THE SAGINAW RIVER OR INSTALL SEDIMENTS TRAPS.  Instead Dow took the cash strapped taxpayers represented by MDEQ to court (filed in Midland circuit court) knowing the state has no money to take on any legal battles.  

Based on new data MDCH has determined that enhanced fish consumption advisories are in order, which require amending warning signs along the river system. Anticipating future needs the signs were designed to be updated by placing a laminate with the new information over existing signs. This is a low cost item, which Dow is refusing to pay for even though it is required by law as an interim response. Again taking advantage of cash- strapped taxpayers; Dow knows the state cannot afford the signs or a legal challenge.

In summary Dow’s commitment to the community and resource is fickle:

Doesn’t want to deal with MDEQ unless on company terms

Suing the state

Looking for a new “path forward” with EPA behind closed doors

Refusing to place sediment traps

Refusing to pay for enhanced signs

Refusing to pay for a stenographer to create a public record

Refusing to answer question at a public meeting when asked (May 6 2009)

Refusing to do work on the Saginaw River required by their federal (RCRA) operating license which states:

At the end of the four year period beginning on the date this license is issued, the licensee shall continue or commence the corrective action process for any of the off-site areas that are identified in Condition XI.B.6.

Identified in Condition x1.B.6 is the Saginaw River, its floodplain and Saginaw Bay. Fours years from license issue (June 12 2003) is June 2007.

Dow acknowledged that commitment when Dow’s Sue Carrington signed on the dotted line in 2003 sealing a contract with the people of this region and this state to address their contamination. In early 2004 Dow began push back with MDEQ and have done so since then. Now they want the EPA to take over. Likely to set up a re-match of the 1980’s feud when Dow dominated push back with EPA and sent them running. EPA turned it over to MDEQ in the mid 90’s. Now EPA is entertaining getting back on the merry go round. Frankly it’s a nauseating 30 year old ride that has got to stop.

*Let’s look at Riverside and W. Michigan Park.  Dow’s work being done on Riverside and West Michigan Park is being done under orders from the federal government. Failure to do so would result in EPA doing the work and applying treble damages:  Treble damages, in law, is a term that indicates that a statute permits a court to triple the amount of the actual damages to be awarded to a prevailing plaintiff, in this case EPA, generally in order to punish the losing party for willful conduct.  Not to say what Dow is doing is not important, because it is, but let’s not hoist the red diamond and salute them for being good corporate neighbors-- they are doing it with a gun to their head.

Everyone appreciates what Dow’s philanthropy in these tough economic times. But they are also taking advantage of these most unfortunate times--- Dow is revealing a greater commitment to its public persona and PR then to real substance and commitment to GREAT LAKES BAY REGION. ---Michigan largest watershed.

More soon on the, SAS, dredge project (www.dredgeitright.org) Saginaw Bay and some  old EPA documents.

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.