Lone Tree Council and TRW

Dioxin Update #128

May 23, 2008



"Throughout the history of literature, the guy who poisons the well
has been the worst of all villains..."
-- Author unknown --



The Slurry Pit on the Saginaw River


This debacle is going from bad to worse. Since 2005 this site has been on a trajectory for a slurry wall and groundwater permits because of the sand seams located within the pit. Michigan's ground water is part and parcel with our Great Lakes and river resources and needs to be protected. 


The Corp and Saginaw County never had the money to do this project correctly. The discovery of sand seams/fissures and the high concentrations of dioxins in the river made the selection of this site all the more precarious.  Dow Chemical was brought into the discussion early (in non-transparent meetings) to address their responsibility for the dioxins going into the pit. However the mere mention of the company's responsibility at public meetings drew swift rebukes that this site was not about cleanup or RCRA but about navigational dredging. End of discussion. In private meetings however it was anticipated that this needed ‘betterment’, i.e., the slurry wall would be paid for by Dow Chemical. When Dow walked away they took the money… and coincidentally all of the sudden the slurry wall was not needed.


Correctly so, MDEQ was adamant that to protect groundwater the slurry wall was a must. Rejecting MDEQ's position and to support the claim the slurry wall was not needed Dow paid its consultant group ENVIRON to produce a report for the Army Corp of Engineers which said the slurry wall was not needed. This report was countered by an April 25th report from MDEQ.  However, the ENVIRON report and Corp prevailed after a meeting with the Lieutenant Governor. There will be no slurry wall. 


Watch for the ENVIRON report to surface again when Dow gets ready to construct their slurry pit along the Tittabawassee River. Dow will be held to know more stringent standard than the pit on the Saginaw River. There is not enough money in the world to take on the legal challenge from Dow Chemical should anyone try and hold them to another standard.



Our own one of a kind slurry pit


In a conversation with the Corp of Engineers, Eartha Melzer of Michigan Messenger (link below) reports the slurry pit disposal system on the Saginaw River is the only one of its kind in Michigan. How’s that folks? Low tech, low cost designed slurry pit based on report paid for by Dow Chemical that says a slurry wall to contain dioxin is not needed. Sediments from the very river where last year the highest levels of dioxin were discovered are going to be slurried into an open pit with known sand seams.


There is no operational management plan to date but the Corp by all indications wants to put the "worst" sediments in the bottom of the pit. Closer to the sand seams, I guess.


Documents are up on the Dredge It Right web site.



 From Michigan Messenger:




Corps' spokeswoman Lynn Duerod said that the corps will now put out an open bid to dredging companies in the area. She said that the corps does not know how much dioxin is in the soil.

"They are testing it before they dredge it," she said. "Once they finish testing, it may require some special handling. There won't be a slurry wall, but they can put plant material in there and it will grow, or they will put the worst stuff on the bottom."


No matter how contaminated the soil is, Duerod said, the Corps of Engineers is confident it can be safely contained in the earthen pit -- the only such pit disposal system in Michigan





 In the meantime the Contested Case filed by Zilwaukee Twp before the administrative law judge at MDEQ is pending. The judge has asked for yet another six-month extension until an approved Operational Management Plan is issued. The contested case centers around the issuance of flood plain permits. Addressing the flood plain issues head on in a Saginaw News letter to the editor was Zilwaukeed Twp's Donn Rajaniemi speaking to displacement of floodwaters, proximity to homes and FEMA:



“The DEQ admits that the flood actually occurred, but displacing 1.7 million cubic yards of floodwater won't matter. It did matter. Floodwaters receded as soon as the railroad grade gave way, draining the homes of water.

Given the relatively flat topography of the Saginaw Valley, the equivalent of 14 Pontiac Silverdome-sized swimming pools 4-feet-3-inches deep has to find someplace to go: Your house. Don't worry; the Federal Emergency Management Agency will take care of us. The FEMA permit required was never approved.


Donn’s article can be viewed at:







Crap shoot placing groundwater monitors


In a  My View column, Mr. Carpenter an engineer from GeoDynamics Consultants articulated nicely the problems of where to place monitoring wells to detect a leak from the site:


 Such fissures promote rapid migration of groundwater (and contaminants) along continuously branching pathways. Under these conditions, the chances of monitoring wells intercepting contaminant flow are practically nil.


And where is the money coming from when the site leaks and if  the ground water monitors catch it?


Link to Mr. Carpenters article on May 12th:  







There is a sordid history surrounding this publicly funded project. Many player-proponents of the project found sanctuary being on the same team. They also found a great deal of security in knowing there would be little scrutiny of activities… in the end, the lack of transparency, lack of open discussion, political interference, SLAPP suits, disrespect for community right to know—has been justified by the proponents of this project based on the need to dredge the river.


But need doesn't necessitate doing things poorly with taxpayer’s dollars or sacrificing the basic ground rules of our government.  When for heavens sake do discussions start in our political and social circles about how to cleanup the public process?  


Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial weekend. Seek out the pleasant peninsula we call our home!


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.