Lone Tree Council
P.O. 1251, Bay City, Michigan 48706
(Fighting for environmental justice since 1978)
SEPTEMBER 19, 2006 Terry Miller (989) 686-6386
Pat Bradt ( 989) 753-6036
Dow Chemical Company plans to send dioxin from a toxic contamination site to a planned dredged materials storage facility alongside the Saginaw River that is not designed as a toxic waste disposal, according to Environmental Protection Agency documents made public through the Freedom of Information Act.
The documents show the Army Corps of Engineers has, discussed the plan with Dow without public scrutiny or input. The dredge facility, under construction in Zilwaukee and Frankenlust townships, is designed to store less contaminated sediments removed for navigational purposes. It is NOT designed to contain the highly dioxin-contaminated materials that Dow eventually must be removed from the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.
“Toxic sludge should be disposed of in a licensed hazardous waste facility,” said Lone Tree Council Chairman Terry Miller. “Transferring it from the river bottom to the floodplain wouldn’t be a cleanup at all, but simply a rearranging of toxic sediment in a different part of the watershed. The idea that Dow is considering this, and that government regulators aren’t rejecting it out of hand, is outrageous.”
The documents were from the files of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region V headquarter in Chicago, and obtained by the Lone Tree Council after a FOIA request.
They verify that Dow has negotiated with the Army Corps over plans to use the facility for toxic disposal and that the EPA has serious reservations about the dredge facility itself.
An April 2006 memo states: “Negotiations are
occurring between the Army Corp of Engineers and Dow concerning the potential
use of by Dow of a planned ACOE dredged material disposal facility. Dow is
seeking the option of potentially disposing of contaminated sediments from the
Saginaw River in the DMDF as part of the future potential dredging by Dow.”
(Gerry Phillips, Corrective Action Program Manager, US. EPA)
Lone Tree volunteer Michelle Hurd Riddick, who obtained the documentation from EPA’s Chicago headquarters, made clear the significance of the group’s discovery.
“The lack of transparency and candor with the public and impacted communities is appalling,” said Hurd Riddick. “This unlined slurry pit sitting in the floodplain of the Saginaw River is not appropriate for the Corps’ contaminated river dredgings, let alone considering it for Dow’s cleanup. The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners agreed to allow the taxpayers to accept liability for a navigational dredge disposal site – not a hazardous waste dump. Commissioners were sold a bill of goods. Why are Saginaw taxpayers being asked to accept perpetual legal and financial responsibility for Dow’s contamination?”
Saginaw County is the local sponsor of the project, and the Saginaw County Commission, as part of its sponsorship, is required to accept financial responsibility for any problems associated with the site.
“The Corps should be working for us,” said Zilwaukee Township clerk, Pat Bradt, not Dow. They should not be making backroom deals. As it is, our property values are being lost, our quality of life destroyed, and now it looks like they want to shove a toxic dump site down our throats – can it get any worse!
This summer, Lone Tree Council filed suit in federal court arguing that the Corps should have conducted the more comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement required for federal projects that will have a significant environmental impact. Lone Tree requested an injunction to stop the project until the proper analysis was done. Although a Detroit federal judge denied the injunction, the case is continuing on the merits of requiring an EIS.
The controversial project was a response to the problem of silt build-up in the Upper Saginaw River that was slowing ship passage in the channel. Support for dredging remains strong in the community and Lone Tree Council has urged its use in a Dow cleanup – provided that dioxin-contaminated sediment is placed in a licensed hazardous waste landfill or treatment facility. The haste in selection of the present location, however, has been controversial. Officials of Zilwaukee and Frankenlust townships opposed what they saw as heavy-handed tactics by the Corps and Saginaw County to build the dump in violation of local zoning restrictions in a floodplain near residences. Environmentalists argued the location was next to a state game preserve in a major wildfowl flyway, and without water treatment.
The Corps has since agreed to emergency dredging of a critical turnaround basin with dredge spoils being placed in the Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) at the mouth of the Saginaw River. However, construction at the Zilwaukee/Frankenlust site has been underway through most of the summer. The Corps’ intent is to begin dredging the Upper Saginaw River and placing those spoils in the new site as early as next summer, although the Corps has not made that clear.
Environmentalists have mounted a radio campaign that began September 18th with the goal of encouraging Saginaw County residents to contact their County Commissioners to reverse their support for the facility, and to relieve taxpayers of any liability.
April 6 2006 EPA Dow Hot Issue Document
September 27th 2005 Executive Committee Saginaw County Board of Commissioners assigning ownership of the DMDF to the taxpayers of Saginaw County
September 20th 2005 Letter from County Legal Council to the Board advising about the county’s liability for the DMDF
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.