Lone Tree Council and TRW


September 7, 2008






“This lake without sails, this shore which does not yet show any trace of the passage of man, this eternal forest which borders it; all that, I assure you, is not grand in poetry only; it’s the most extraordinary spectacle that I have seen in my life.” -- Alexis de Tocqueville  1831 upon seeing  Lake Huron.



EPA FOIA documents


CREW, Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington has posted thousands of pages of EPA documents pertaining to Dow Chemical’s dioxin contamination in our watershed on their website.  The documents were in response to a Freedom of Information request CREW filed when Mary Gade, Regional Administrator at Region V was terminated by Steven Johnson the head of EPA because she was holding the chemical giant accountable—refusing to play their game and running interference with their persistent end run to EPA headquarters to garner favor--- (read the documents). No doubt in my mind that Mary Gade had to go—she was interfering with Dow’s plans. Like Dow has never ran to EPA headquarters before--1980's, Reagan administration-- it resulted in congressional hearings and firings


Lone Tree Council recently received FOIA documents too. The folks at CREW were kind enough to offer us space on their site. We hope to get documents to them soon. You can link to CREW documents at: 




Slurry Pit On the River


 We posted additional documents to the www.Dredgeitright.org web site. These documents paint a clear picture of a frustrated MDEQ trying to do their job by insisting the Corp keep their word, utilize the permit process and put in the groundwater containment wall that they promised for years. Yet the slurry pit will be under -permitted and MDEQ will deal with the need for a slurry wall when the site leaks…. that’s assuming the Corp can get the federal dollars for the repair. 


 The tiled wetland converted to farm field around the pit shows a great deal of water standing where it never was before ----up to 12 inches in certain areas. Imagine having a slurry pit berm at your yard’s boundary. Lots of water in the DMDF too.  Outstanding questions remain about the integrity of the berms, the soil, compaction, lack of permits etc. The pond scum water standing where people run their dogs is a nice touch. Ought to smell real good after a few days of this September heat.   Of course none of the people who imposed this site on these residents or made the political decision to alter their lives forever—have come calling to see how things are going.


With regard to the actual dredging by the runaway Army Corp of Engineers, Lone Tree Council has asked EPA, USFWS and DEQ to address the impact of bucket dredging and the resulting migration of contaminated sediments and increase turbidity to the river and Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron. I am not confident given the politics at all levels driving this project that anything will be done. Re suspension of sediments to the Bay was a concern with the federal agencies when the Corp initially said (lied) that they would be doing a vacuum dredge. Yes, I said lied— Jus a bit hard to believe that after four years and only after receiving a finalized Operational Management Plan, which was needed before dredging could commence, did it dawn on the Corp that the distance from the river to certain segments of the slurry pit were too far for a vacuum dredge—needing way to much pressure.




DEQ Quarterly Meeting Highlights August 7 2008


EPA provided the link below to the sites at which Dow has taken interim response actions to protect public health. This includes the link to the most recent Riverside Blvd area in the City of Saginaw. http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical/ 

Note these are interim response not final cleanups!


MDEQ explained in detail about the contamination found along the T-river banks near the Dow Diamond. This site is Reach B where the former Dow 47 Building stood for decades. It’s also a historic Dow dumping ground for chlorine anodes  resulting in the ongoing release of dioxins/furans to the river system. To date 15,000 cu/yds of debris have been removed. Additional sampling to ascertain the extent of the contamination down river is ongoing.  Also MDEQ identified a number of outfalls as possible sources of contamination to the river. Progress is being made on these H-12 Outfalls (H for high priority)


MDEQ stated the dioxins and furans in the river remain the drivers for further investigation but it is important that other contaminants in the river like, chlorobenzenes, styrenes, parathion and a host of other chemicals be included in the investigation and remediation plans. A more exhaustive list of chemical’s in the river can be found on the TRW website.


Dow is required to complete characterization of the lower T-river this year. Dow is not meeting its obligations under RCRA for the Saginaw River.  Bank erosion is widespread and an ongoing source of contamination to the river and great concern at MDEQ and EPA.


Because of the Army Corp of Engineers dredging plans on the Saginaw River the sediment traps required of Dow have been deferred for the time being. For sure this delay does not help with the migration of contaminated sediments washing down to Bay City and out to the Bay. Sediment loading and turbidity are major historical impairments to the Bay. 




Transcripts of the August 7 meeting


You can read the transcripts from the meeting at http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-whm-hwp-dow-8-7-08-Comm-meet-Transcript_248034_7.pdf and I would encourage you to do so. 


An interesting exchange took place between Dr. Sam Shaheen and several citizens who were in attendance.  Dr. Shaheen chastised the audience for picking on Dow Chemical, stating he’s never seen anyone die from dioxin. He offered up air and sunlight as mechanism to cleanup the dioxin—a chemical neither he nor Dow thinks is harmful.


It should come as no surprise that Dow sat silent while the good doctor told the audience that Dow didn’t need to be in the area and would go the way of GM if folks and agencies persisted on this dioxin issue. For sure, Dow has used this jobs scare tactic time and again and they are happy to use it, have others use it and hang it over the heads of the very people and units of government they so embrace in their community public relations campaign.


Dr. Shaheen also stated that EPA’s renowned dioxin expert Linda Birnbaum said no one can get hurt from dioxin--- that is not what she said either time I heard her speak.



Recent Peer Reviewed studies




Most recently Dr. Birnbaum served as a peer reviewer for the following study (link below), which showed that 25 years after a mother’s exposure to dioxin in Seveso Italy, that infants born with altered thyroid function were born to mom’s with the highest levels of dioxin in their blood. 





Please read the UCLA report below. Not only are Viet Nam  veterans experiencing higher incidents of prostate cancer they are also incurring the most aggressive forms of the cancer. Dioxin was the contaminant in the defoliant Agent Orange.







Public Input on Environmental Policy Decisions


Decision rendered by government agencies and the administrations they work for are ours to live with; individuals, communities, children, and parents all live with the decision be they good, bad or somewhere in between.  Dr. Schettler sent the following link about the importance of public participation in determining the quality of the final decision.  Which is why it’s important for all of us to demand transparency, access to timely information and thorough explanation of process from EPA, MDEQ, MDCH and the Granholm administration.





A new report from the National Research Council finds that including the public in environmental decision making, when done properly, improves the quality of decisions by federal agencies. Critics have complained that seeking comment from those unfamiliar with the science involved can lead to delays and ineffective decision making. But the NRC study panel, led by Thomas Dietz of Michigan State University’s Environmental Science and Policy Program, said that well-managed public involvement increases the legitimacy of decisions and is more likely to improve rather than undermine the quality of decisions







Farewell to Donn


Zilwaukee Twp flood engineer, Donn Rajaniemi, recently passed away at his home, age 53. Some of you had the good fortune to meet this passionate man who loved his community and was so very angered by the presence of the slurry pit outside his backdoor- literally outside his door. Though few in positions of power at the state and local level would heed his warning about the impact on flood water storage, the inadequacy of the permits and how their decision forever changed Zilwaukee Twp’s future development, or impacted the game refuge—he continued to press on with his case and fight for his community against the Army Corp, the county and the state.  Donn’s picture is on the www.dredgeitright.org

Web site. It shows him standing in his backyard with the slurry pit over his shoulder.


May this good man rest in peace.



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.