Lone Tree Council and TRW

Dioxin Update #127

May 18, 2008




Let everybody know that this environment belongs to all of us, and when you contaminate the water and contaminate the fish, you are contaminating all of us.

 --Daisy Carter Project AWAKE-  Meeting of the National Environmental Justice   Advisory   Council Seattle 2001 



Enhanced Wild Game Advisory


Last week MDCH, MDEQ and DNR added to and extended the range for wild game consumption along these contaminated rivers. Several game were added and the advisory was extended to include the Saginaw River. Children and women of childbearing age are targeted most frequently in the advisory.





DEQ/DOW Quarterly Meeting


Please fix that format. A new format for the quarterly meetings was addressed by MDEQ. Apparently Dow and MDEQ will no longer scrutinize and agree upon what information us lowly citizens are entitled to consume. This process a result of the “ Framework” induced collegiality between regulator and polluter badly needed to go by the wayside. We applaud whoever made the decision.


But never let it be said that Dow won't seize an opportunity to control the agenda.

Dow’s paid consultants and employees utilized a great deal of time going to the microphone to challenge MDEQ and MDCH on their science. Save it for your technical meetings folks! —these are public meetings……….. Time for the public to ask questions not Dow’s people.


Apologize for not being more clear on the following point but  I will pursue the answers. Dow apparently is legally challenging MDEQ on four different fronts with regard to their RCRA obligations. I believe all four on the Saginaw River and Bay. Areas we know Dow has always wanted removed from their license. Would have to guess, Dow's challenges, to muddy the water and create regulatory conflict plays into the penchant for creating delays and their efforts to work with EPA instead of MDEQ. It's called a set up!


Seen a great deal of shameless posturing in the last eight years but Dow's attack on the states fish advisories at the quarterly meeting were disgusting. As usual they attacked the science and the rationale to be protective of public health-- especially where women of childbearing age and kids were concerned. 



A few observations media observations about Administrator Gade being fired


There’s been so much media reporting but a few comments stand out.


1. Never offering an example to support his statement, Congressman Camp is the only person publicly slamming Mary Gade. Reported by the Chicago Tribune, Mr. Camp said of Ms. Gade:


 "In 20 years of public life I have never encountered a more unprofessional, vindictive and insulting government official,"



2. As reported in the Chicago Tribune, Dow spokesman John Musser said the chemical giant would rather work with the federal government than with Michigan officials, who have been designated by the agency to oversee future dioxin cleanup.


It’s more than being designated by EPA to work with MDEQ. Dow Chemical negotiated the agreement for cleanup with MDEQ for six years. Dow signed a contract with DEQ in 2003 saying it would abide by the laws. Perhaps in the waning days of the Bush administration Dow is looking for a deal.


3. Dow's Mr. Musser to the Wall Street Journal said that Ms. Gade's office asked Dow:


 "to do things that were not consistent with national guidelines or national policy."


The WSJ went on to say Mr. Musser declined to elaborate, saying discussions with the EPA were confidential. 


 Mr. Musser makes the point for never having closed door meetings about public resources… you never have to elaborate you can just level accusations about very important public matters and never worry about follow up questions.


4. In the Washington Independent, Mr. Musser in responding to the statement that perhaps Dow continues to have ties to the federal government, Musser stated;


"Our influence is no greater or lesser than any other citizen. We've pursued our rights to be treated fairly."

Outrageous comment but Dow’s influence across all levels of government is palpable. Witness how they have been able to manipulate this clean up for years. One more thing, Dow is not a citizen and it has been treated more than fairly by more elected officials than it deserves much to the detriment of equitable treatment of the people and resources of this watershed.







Dow Shareholders Meeting  May 15, 2008


Several of us gathered on the grassy knoll under the Stars Stripes outside the Midland Center for the Arts for our perennial protest and reminder to Dow Chemical shareholders that people living down river from this company want a safe environment, clean rivers and healthy fish to eat. We wanted to remind them the thousands of people living down river were part of the Human Element too. (pictures will be up on TRWnews.net)


We witnessed a few near miss fender benders as shareholders entered the parking lot, not looking at the car ahead of them but instead straining their necks to look the other way so as to avoid eye contact with this group of ‘activists’ who expect (after all these years) some corporate responsibility.


The 2008 Dow Annual General Meeting opened with a beautifully produced video of Dow’s work bringing clean water, hope and resource security to the world. The production part of the Human Element Campaign was moving and compelling. It was a stark reminder of how fortunate Mid- Michigan residents are to be living among one fifth of the world’s fresh water. Something we so often take for granted…..


Several people addressed the shareholders praising Dow’s Human Element campaign and the recognition of humans in the grand scheme of the world’s resources. Shareholders, the recipients of windfall profits reveled in the glow of such moving and profound depictions of corporate kindness and responsibility. Andrew Liveris, Dow CEO emphasized over and over Dow’s commitment to clean water.  The crowd was told, “ we all live in the shadow of water” and Dow is committed to bringing clean fresh water to the world. One gentleman from the United Nations commended Dow for their commitment to water resources. Another sang corporate accolades for water projects in South America. Everyone nodded in agreement that water is so very important. 



So imagine the moment of disconnect a few of us had when Andrew Liveris, having his own schizophrenic moment of disconnect blew off the dioxin contamination down river from corporate headquarters. In a flash it was no longer about fresh water resources or Dow accountability, responsibility or people.  From admonishing the shareholders to vote against resolution  #4 regarding dioxin cleanup, to responding to a request to address the Saginaw River or the safety of people eating fish from the local rivers, Mr. Liveris position is there is no problem with dioxin. “ The science is in and there are no health effects” was the mantra of the day for man from Down Under.


Most obvious was his failure to answer the following question put forth by Pam Pugh Smith of the Michigan Environmental Council;


 “ Is Dow Chemical of the belief that it is OK for children and women of childbearing age to consume fish contaminated with dioxin and furans?”


He did not answer the question. Instead, he alluded to his previous comments, stating, “ The science is in. I’ve answered that question”. Well, of course he didn’t answer the question.


 Not sure just how nasty the fish would be have to be before it’s a problem for him, but you can bet the CEO isn’t feeding local fish to his grandchildren. It’s clearer than ever that Dow wants to define the parameters of their goodwill. Only their science is relevant, they will define whose water is important, what clean water is and who in the human element matters. 



Shareholders were regaled with commitments to community, sustainability and accountability. All good things, but these lofty goals are irrelevant when it comes to Dow’s dioxin contamination in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Why? Encouraging shareholders to vote against Resolution #4 (dioxin remediation), Mr. Liveris said, “ It diverts resources and it’s not a benefit to the shareholders”. Dow is the primary source of dioxin to Lake Huron; the responsible party for the highest levels of dioxin in the nation and the reason for the wild game and fish advisories have been issued. Yet the importance of all of this matters only in the context of the company’s ledger. No Human Element, no responsibility, no accountability and no sustainability in their own backyard.  Well almost 23% of the shareholders voted for Resolution #4 calling upon Dow Chemical to address their liabilities downriver. To them we extend our gratitude; to the Sister of Mercy our undying thanks for coming back to put this very ethical proposal to Mr. Liveris and to the shareholders. 


Mr. Liveris is not living in a bubble. He is well grounded in reality. His reality. Money talks and after all, this was a meeting all about money, profits and feeling good. Dow’s CEO delivered on all three. In the meantime, while Dow manufactures uncertainty about dioxin, ramps up the regulatory conflict, keeps up the political pressure, pursues legal challenges, blows off fish advisories and shareholders look the other way, the cleanup of our rivers drags on and this watershed’s black-eye never heals.  I’m not sure cynicism isn’t the most suitable response to Mr. Liveris.




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.