Dioxin Update

Lone Tree Council- TRW

March 17th 2004


Next Meeting is Monday, March 22, 6:30 to 8pm Thomas Twp Library on Miller Rd behind the Fire Station

Green Point Nature Center

A special thanks to Becky and Michelle at Green Point for permitting us to meet at that wonderful location for the past two years. We will be announcing the refuge clean up date for April and we hope some of you volunteer to come out and lend a hand!

Henry et al vs Dow

Judge Borrello has denied Dow's motion for partial summary disposition for the 2nd time.
Dow appealed and lost. He will now determine if suit should be certified as a class
action and schedule proceedings. Tentative date 04/06/04.

04/06/04 9:30 A.M. Court Session: Class Certification. Judge Borrello says that on this date he will
either rule from the bench or shortly thereafter. Previously scheduled for
February 24, 2004


Every where you looked two weekends ago you saw the banks of the Tittabawassee River over flowing. Flooding homes, farm fields, parks, roads and yards. What triggered this event? A pretty typical spring in Michigan. Warmer temps, snow melt and rain. Not an unlikely scenario for the future.

The sediments of the Tittabawassee River are contaminated with Dow's dioxin and the river transports them during flooding and deposits them on the floodplain when the water recedes. If you have any questions you can direct them to Sue Kaebler Matlock at the DEQ office in Bay City. 686-8025 or email at matlocks@michigan.gov.

DowChemical capping areas with clean soil is only a temporary solution at best. Flood waters inundate these parks and will leave contaminated sediment on top of the cap. The solution rests with getting those sediments out of the river.

DEQ Issues #4 Bulletin on the T-River

Last week the DEQ issued another bulletin to the affected communities. You can access the DEQ website and find volumes of information on the dioxin. Some days it's a bit slow to load but worth the wait. The site is listed at the end of this paragraph. Worth noting in the recent bulletin:

1. Forest fires, contrary to Dow spin, did little to contribute to the dioxins in the floodplain.
2. Meat, dairy and fish do constitute our primary sources of dioxin and the food chain is contaminated. What Dow doesn't tell you and won't tell you is that industry put it in the food chain. (Yes, things are improving with regulation but an uncontaminated food chain will not be experienced in our lifetime)
3. "The sources that are most significant for this site now are locally elevated levels in the soils and sediments............" Please adhere to the warning issued by DEQ and MDCH when you are out and about the floodplain.
4. " Based on the available information, dioxins are believed to have the potential to cause a wide range of adverse effects in humans."

As someone pointed out at the recent DEQ Community Advisory Panel, "this issue is being studied to death." Indeed it is, but remember, cleanup is not contingent on any of these studies being done by Dow or the state. The 90ppt is established to be protective of the public health, BEFORE DISEASE AND DIOXIN AFFECTS OCCUR. It would be foolish to wait until you have sick people to order a cleanup or take steps to protect the public health. Somehow this concept (with Dow's help) seems lost on many people, local public health officials and politicians. Part 111 and 201 of Michigan law says if it exceeds 90ppt it must be cleaned up. There are no caveats for giant chemical companies.


Dow Scopes of Work


The revised Scopes of Work, outlining action plans, are available at the DEQ website www.michigan.gov/tittabawassee. Go to the "related links" heading and select Dow Hazardous Waste Facility Operating License & Corrective Action Information. To comment, contact Cheryl Howe at the Waste and Hazardous Materials Division of the DEQ, PO Box 30241, Lansing, MI 48909, by phone at (517) 373-9881, or e-mail at howec@michigan.gov. Copies of the SOW are available in the Bay City DEQ office. # 686-8025


Sue Carrington, Dow's lead on the dioxin issue, recently addressed the Chamber of Commerce and stated Dow wouldn't act on "emotion" ( Saginaw News) and that only small amounts of dioxin exist in the area. Reporting on the same meeting, WSGW noted Ms. Carrington's criticism of "activists" with "loud voices" calling for "draconian" measures to deal with cleanup. Truth is Dow has always been able to stand up, devoid of emotion, and distort the truth in a very calm and believable fashion. Like the historian Howard Zinn said, " A lie can be calmly told, a truth can be charged with emotion." It bothersome that Dow never sites examples when they level accusations. And so what if people are emotional. Are people upset because they cannot use their yards as intended, the fish and wildlife are contaminated, the watershed has the highest level of dioxin in the state? Upset is an emotion. Pretty arrogant on Dow's part to point fingers at the people whose yards and watershed they contaminated.

Those loud voices referenced by Ms. Carrington? IT'S CALLED PARTICIPATORY GOVERNMENT--DEMOCRACY -- IT'S A RIGHT GIVEN TO THE PEOPLE UNDER THE CONSTITUTION. Dow is accountable to every person living in this watershed. Any efforts by Dow to define how loud or at what capacity any citizen or group can participate is undemocratic and heavy handed. Efforts by Dow to render certain people irrelevant is standard corporate fare. Having hired some powerful Lansing insiders to run interference for them, Dow will endeavor through, influence, job threats, campaign contributions and lobbying to have a voice more powerful than any volume everyday citizens could muster. So let's find that steady, persistent level voice and drown them out.

Ms. Carrington also commented, according Betty Damore, that dioxin posed no specific risk to children. I would ask you to visit TRW's website and review Dr. White's presentation on dioxin and Dr. Linda Birnbaums. Again, Sue Carrington is calmly misrepresenting, distorting and fabricating. Just because she gets paid to do it, doesn't justify doing it! Terry Johnson, another Dow spokesperson, said that the 5,000+ppt found 15" down in someone's backyard was not of concern. Is it that hard to understand? One or two good shovels full and you're there. Where was that 5,000ppt when the owners children were being raised, playing and digging in the yard? Like Upton Sinclair said, "It is difficult to get a man [or woman) to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it."

DOW- UM Exposure Study

Comments to Dr. David Garabrant regarding the UM Exposure study were submitted by the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor and Lone Tree Council. The Ecology Center, as you will recall, along with MEC and Diane Hebert, were the petitioners to ATSDR in May 2001 asking for an evaluation of the dioxin contamination.

Tracey Easthope, Ecology Center, and Michelle Hurd Riddick attended the Feb. 19th teleconference with Dow, ATSDR, MDEQ, MDCH and the local health departments. Needless to say attendees were surprised that nothing more detailed than a sketchy power point presentation was available. At the end of the meeting MDCH and MDEQ requested a copy of the proposed study and it was denied. Those in attendance were told to comment on the Power Point ( fancy slide show). MDCH stated that this was not acceptable. No one from Dow or UM stepped forward to offer more than the Power Point, ATSDR suggested commenting on the Power Point and that's where it was left. If a proposal didn't exist, Dow and UM failed to say so and if one did exist, an explanation for their refusal to share it should have been offered. It begs far too many questions. Comments can be read on the TRW website and are based on the Power Point. It seems very odd that DOW would expect the scientific staff at MDCH and DEQ to comment on something as flimsy as a Power Point.

The implications of this UM study have huge ramifications for all concerned and deserves a full public and scientific vetting before it moves forward. Dow is planning a huge sampling population in both counties, their tightly controlled meetings with a handful of citizens hardly constitutes an open process or an adequate debate on the merits of the study or the purpose of the study. MDCH submitted comments calling to open up the process and allow the public scrutiny that Dow wants to avoid. Our comments call for the same.


Yes, hell did freeze over! Lone Tree Council agreed with the Scope of Work put forth by Dow, to authorize the WIN, the Watershed Initiate Network, to take charge of creating the dioxin information for the community centers. Final say on content will rest with DEQ. The creation of signage, the community centers are a definite step in the right direction. We wish Mike Kelly, WIN director, the best of luck.

One disturbing issue for some members of the DEQ CAP is Dow's refusal to participate at even a minimal level. Dow comes, they take notes, "capture" questions and assume no meaningful role. When asked to send someone from Dow who had some authority to speak for the company, we were told to submit our questions to DEQ, who could then relay them and "if" someone was available to come and answer questions they would. People from Dow attending the meeting are never in a position to respond. For a company who in past and present proposals call for "community" and "stakeholder" gatherings, one would think Dow would want to engage and interact more with the CAP. But like everything else, unless Dow designs it and controls it................

We were informed that Dow's presentation last week to the CAP on the Community Centers, came with "conditions"; no other questions by the CAP could be put to Dow on any matter other than their presentation. We hope in the future that DEQ does not shelter Dow by permitting "conditions" on their participation. Problem is Dow has never answered any question in a timely fashion and is selective about whose questions they want to answer. Dow says they want to work with all the stakeholders. News Flash! The CAP is the most relevant body of stakeholders, the meetings are public. It seems odd that with so many stakeholders in one room that Dow chose to:

Not have Dr. Garabrant present to the CAP

Not share the Power Point on the $180,000.00 Dow/UM exposure study

Not share information on Dow's upcoming workshop on River and Flood Plain Sediments (http://www.sediments.org/benchmarking.pdf)

DEQ, Not DOW, handed out the information on Dow's Sediment workshop at the last CAP meeting. The registration deadline was earlier in the week. When asked if we (CAP members) could still register, Dow stood silent! No offer from Dow was forthcoming to assist people who might want to attend Dow's conference!


Freedom of Information Act information obtained by Lone Tree Council reveals the following:

Dow has retained some well connected big hitters from Lansing, Bill Rustem Public Sector, Jack Bailes former DNR enforcement officer to help them communicate with the DEQ.
City fathers in Midland are digging in their heals on additional soil sampling in Midland. Looks like they have hired an attorney to assist them.
Dow and the City of Midland both have refused to participate in the EPA SITE Program. (Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation) an innovative, cost effective test for rapid soil interpretation of dioxin/furans.

Refusal to participate in the EPA SITE Program begs a great many questions. You can draw your own conclusions. It just seems that an inexpensive accurate means to identify and characterize dioxin contamination would be a win-win for everybody. Director's Advisory Committee

Lone Tree Council's very own Terry Miller was recently appointed to the DEQ Director's Environmental Advisory Committee which will meet once a month with Director Chester and DEQ staff. This is very much a tribute to the fine, credible "activist" that Terry is! We should all be grateful for his leadership over the past 25 years and very proud to call him a friend.

Hope to see you Monday at the TRW/Lone Tree Meeting. Happy ST. Patty's Day to all.

As always, do not hesitate to contact me, Kathy Henry or Terry Miller if you have questions, concerns or issues. Please feel free to forward this e-mail. If you know anyone who wants to be on the list have them e-mail me. If you want off this list, send me an e-mail with remove in the subjest box.

Regards to all,

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council



For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawasse River Watch web site www.trwnews.net for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga. . The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.