Dioxin Update
Lone Tree Council and TRW
November 13th 2007 #105
1.6 million parts per trillion of dioxin was  found in the Saginaw River at Wickes Park in surface sediments ---sediments capable of moving out to Lake Huron. Last year Lone Tree Council, a couple of doctors and several residents along the Saginaw River petitioned the Centers for Disease Control ( CDC) for a Public Health Consultation on the Saginaw River. Dr. Howard Frumkin from ATSDR (Division of CDC )  found merit in our petition about subsistence fisherman, indigent people, people of color and migrant workers eating the fish from this highly contaminated river. Well documented in the Michigan Department of Community Health's Fish Consumption Study http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/FCS_Final_rpt_061407_199288_7.pdf  is that non-white populations and women that fish these contaminated rivers are regularly consuming the most contaminated species of fish resulting in those individuals having the highest chemical intake values. Please take time to read this study. Contaminated fish are just one more in the litany of chemicals impacting the community.
The impact of persistent pollutants on developing babies, fetuses and pregnant women is well established. Dioxin and dioxin like compounds ( PCB's, Furans....)  circulating in the blood of pregnant woman impact their developing babies. Contaminated fish equals a contaminated food source. It isn't just about walleye fisherman, tournaments or the economic benefits of Shiver on the River. A child with a body burden of chemicals at birth puts them at risk. Did mom eat those fish?  Compound that body burden with lead, tobacco and or poor air quality you have a child at a huge disadvantage. We've all had the debate about property values, toxicity, levels, ppt  as it relates to dioxin but it's high time we had a discussion about kids, babies and pregnant women...those vulnerable populations not really discussed by anyone and avoided by others.
Many of you may have seen the news tonight, Dow Chemical's John Musser stated this 1.6 million ppt was no threat. He equated it to 15 drops of ink in a 55 gallon drum. It's such a disingenuous and species argument.....  and it surely doesn't speak to the toxicity of dioxin or the science surrounding this chemical. Truth  is 15 ppm of carbon monoxide can kill a family of four and their dog. Just 2mg/kg of arsenic is lethal to a child. 5mcg/DL of lead can cognitively impair a child. A teaspoon of mercury can poison on inland lake.  500 mcg of ricen which would fit on the head of pin is enough to kill an adult. All of these minute, minute amounts. It's not the dose it's how our bodies react to the chemical. So please, the next time Dow drags out this analogy in defense of their contamination.......remember it's all just BS.
MDEQ has contacted MDCH to take additional steps to advise the public. EPA has instructed Dow on what they will do to further investigate this area to determine the true size.
The contamination in the Saginaw River is not fully known or understood. It is imperative that no agreement with Dow Chemical be agreed to until such time as the entire river is sampled.. and the subsequent loss of resources is ascertained and solid public health interventions are implemented.
There has been so much talk in state-wide media about the Great Lakes, diversion, toxic cleanup and invasive species. According to the  Bi-National Partnership Action Plan dioxins are declining in Lake Huron with the exception of Saginaw Bay. In addition concentrations of dioxins still remain at levels associated with deformities and reproductive effects in bird populations especially in the Saginaw Bay.


Below is EPA's press release with regard to these horrific concentrations of dioxin in the river. EPA says: "Dioxins are highly toxic compounds that pose serious risks to human health and the environment. EPA's reassessment of the most recent scientific findings on dioxin indicates that it is a more potent chemical than previously understood. " 

CONTACT: Anne Rowan, 312 353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov

Highest dioxin level found in Saginaw River:  EPA, MDEQ and Dow at work on emergency cleanup

(Chicago, Ill. - Nov. 13, 2007) Acting immediately on information received from Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the company have begun preliminary emergency removal activities at a previously unknown dioxin hot spot on the Saginaw River.

Late Friday, Dow notified EPA and MDEQ of preliminary, unvalidated results of over 1.6 million parts per trillion (ppt) of dioxin in one sample of sediment taken from the Saginaw River. This concentration is 50 times higher than a 32,000 ppt level, previously the highest found in the Saginaw River. It is 15 times higher than any dioxin levels found at hot spots in the Tittabawassee River. This new Saginaw River sample came from a location a half mile below the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee Rivers, roughly adjacent to Wickes Park in Saginaw.

"EPA has determined that this emergency work should be performed under an EPA Superfund order," said Regional Administrator Mary A. Gade. "EPA and MDEQ are working closely together on a thorough and appropriate plan to remove this hot spot. Moreover, we must be very cautious to make sure, through laboratory tests, that we determine the extent of this high level of contamination. It may be only one additional hot spot or it could cover a larger area."  

Dow discovered the latest hot spot during sampling done according to its own Sept. 14, 2007 work plan, which has not been approved by either EPA or MDEQ.
As a result of EPA Superfund orders in June 2007, Dow is now wrapping up the cleanup of three dioxin hot spots in the Tittabawassee River and should be done by year's end. Those dioxin hot spots along the first six miles of the Tittabawassee River were contaminated at levels up to 87,000 ppt, far above state and federal action levels. The area is prone to flooding and erosion which can spread contamination.

Dioxins are highly toxic compounds that pose serious risks to human health and the environment. EPA's reassessment of the most recent scientific findings on dioxin indicates that it is a more potent chemical than previously understood.

For more information about the health impacts of dioxin and eating fish from the Saginaw River system, members of the public may call the Michigan Dept. of Community Health at 800-648-6942 and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at 312-886-0840.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans come from the production of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, fugitive emissions and incineration at Dow resulted in dioxin and furan contamination both on- and off-site.

In separate legal actions last week, EPA cited Dow for air and hazardous waste violations at its Midland facility. These involve preliminary findings of violations and Dow has 30 days to discuss resolution of the allegations.

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.