Lone Tree Council and TRW

Dioxin Update

February 17, 2006 # 62



The good the bad and the ugly


Filling in some of the gaps, DEQ released additional data on dioxin concentrations in soils and sediments along the rivers. The good news is the floodplain soils of the Saginaw River are no where near as contaminated as they are along the flood plain of Tittabawassee River. The frequently flooded areas on the Tittabawassee River are highly contaminated. Thatís the bad news.  The ugly news is that the sediments in the Saginaw River are highly contaminated, in particular in the stretch of river from Wickes Park thru the downtown area. Most ugly? Some of the highest concentrations were found at the surface making it available to fish and demonstrating these dioxins are moving down the river.


Please go to the TRW web site for further more detailed information.



Attractive Nuisance


There has been  a great deal of concern voiced from MDEQ, US Fish and Wildlife and US EPA over the presence of standing water in the Zilwaukee/ Frankenlust Twps slurry pit where the dredged spoils from the Saginaw River will be dumped. At issue is the exposure of bird populations to the standing water because of the failure to place these dioxin laden sediments in cells with daily cover. Birds flock to water. These agencies are correct to want to mitigate this ď attractive nuisanceĒ because it is a hazard and  will expose wildlife to high levels of dioxin.


But what about the fishing docks being built by Dow Chemical ? Arenít they an attractive nuisance for kids? At the recent DEQ Dow meeting, Ruth Averill from Tittabawassee Twp stood up and showed pictures of childrenís shoe prints in the contaminated sediments and soils at Freeland Festival Park. The new docks, courtesy of Dow, were flooded over the past weeks, depositing sediments on the very docks were kids come to fish. Arenít these docks and fishing peers an attractive nuisance for people? Itís incongruous that the state and communities would post fish and soil advisories while permitting Dow to build docks to bring people closer to the contaminated soils and contaminated fish.



In response to Ruth Averillís inquiry, MDEQ stated Dow was responsible to remedy the situations under terms of agreement in the negotiated Framework with Dow. Not sure what that means other than Dow hoses down the decks each and every time soils and sediments are deposited.  In the meantime Dow continues to deny the toxicity of their dioxin.




Dow says dioxin only causes Chloracne


One of the lower moments at the Feb 9th DEQ Dow meeting was a young lady who has lived a lifetime on the Tittabawassee River, coming to the podium and asking about the health risks associated with dioxin. The question was turfed to Dr. Collins from Dow who assured this young woman that  there was no problem with dioxin. DEQ lamely stood up and said, in the interest of balance and fairness the state disagrees with Dr. Collinsí position. End of comment. Terry Miller, Lone Tree Council chairman, then stood up and did the stateís job and articulated the adverse health effects associated with dioxin as he quoted from a number of credible scientists and sources. It cannot be repeated too many times. Only in mid-Michigan are we still debating the toxicity of dioxin.


New Jersey,  dioxin  and the Passaic River ( We can dream)  


December 2005- The NJ Department of Environmental Protection ( DEP) filed suit against Occidental Chemical to began the cleanup and dredging of the Passaic River which is contaminated with very high levels of dioxin. Levels that exceed 1million ppt in some areas. What is most startling is that they want the river cleaned up to 17 ppt maximum level. The NJ DEP in their press release stated: 


 "The owners of this chemical plant poisoned the Passaic River and Newark Bay with dioxin that put the health of the public at serious risk," said Attorney General Harvey. "Our suit and directive demand payment for the cleanup of this dangerous contamination and compensation for the severe damage done to these major waterways."



Rivers, streams, parks are part of the green  infrastructure that define our communities. Not unlike the gray infrastructure of roads and buildings rivers also  need to be repaired from time to time and they need to be invested in. Why? Because it makes good economic sense and because clean healthy rivers attract people and add to the quality of life in our communities.




Dow Work Plans


How does Dow Chemical, who believes that there is no threat from dioxin, submit adequate work plans to investigate and cleanup dioxin if they donít really believe itís a problem? They probably won't.


The purpose of the February 9th DEQ Dow meeting was for Dow and their dozens of consultants to explain their work plans to investigate the extent of the contamination. These RIWPs  ( Remedial Investigation Work Plans) are important because they are intended to tell us how extensive the contamination is in the river, soils, sediments and wildlife. This data will then permit efforts toward cleanup to begin and for resource damages to be assessed. Dow will be responsible for the cleanup and for the loss of resources in the damage assessment.


In Dow's Power Point presented at the public meeting Dow asked the inane question: Is it (the contamination) getting into the environment? Hard to believe that five years later Dow is asking if dioxin is getting into the environment. Let's see, soils, sediment, deer, turkey, birds, eggs, butterflies, squirrels, people, homes, yards, parks, fish...........Yes, it's in getting into the environment. Frankly only Dow Chemical would have the audacity to ask such foolish questions.


If history repeats itself Dow will once again, with their army of consultants, PhD's, regulatory lawyers submit plans that will be deficient and create additional delays, tax resources at the state level and cost the taxpayers money.


The state and US EPA will be submitting comments on these important work plans. Lone Tree Council has asked Mr. Sygo of MDEQ to convene a TIM (Technical Information Meeting) for the public to discuss the stateís issues with and implementation of  the Dow Work Plans.


It should come as no surprise that cursory review of the plans show Dow is attempting to do three things:



You can view these documents at:



Lone Tree Council will be submitting comments. The deadline is March 15th.





Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council