Lone Tree Council and TRW

Dioxin Update #130

June 22, 2008





Slurry Pit on River Informational Meeting



A public meeting regarding the Operational Management Plan (OMP) for the Upper Saginaw River Dredged Materials Disposal Facility is planned for June 24, 2008. The OMP is on www.Dredgeitright.org site. The meeting will be held at Curtis Hall SVSU campus starting at 7pm.


Hope you can attend. As a taxpayer in Saginaw County you are liable for this site. In the OMP, Saginaw County has agreed to hold and save free the Army Corp of Engineers from any damages arising from the construction, operation and management and any betterments of the slurry pit. Of course the county has the right to pursue legal action against the Corp for negligence arising from the failure to provide betterments, or for sub-par construction but that would be after impact or harm to the environment or residents has occurred. And  what are Saginaw County’s liabilities and responsibilities to the people who live between the “pit” and the river? What recourse do taxpayers have?  Perhaps Mr. Koski will join MDEQ and Corp and answer those questions at Tuesday's meeting.


Last week several of us met with the Lieutenant Governor who intervened in the slurry pit debate between the DEQ and the Corp. Mr. Cherry stated, as has DEQ management, that the Corp of Engineers claimed “ sovereign immunity”, i.e. we are above the laws of the state of Michigan. Naturally with that proclamation this administration through it hands up in the air and decided they would not fight for statutes, laws, precedent, Michigan’s largest watershed, taxpayers or the residents living closest to this site. The Corp of Engineers will have their way.


On January 28th Jim Koski pulled his application for groundwater permits required under Part 22. The next day Jim Koski, notified MDEQ that Dow Chemical pulled funding for the slurry wall. There never was federal money to do this project correctly. The Corp would never admit it relied on Dow for funding and neither will Jim Koski…. Groundwater monitoring is costly and the price tag for the slurry wall was around 1.3 million.  You can bet Saginaw County didn't have the money either and they too relied on Dow.  Without Dow the strategy had to change. So the Corp submitted a study, paid for by Dow, which said a slurry wall was not needed. Was this a twinge of conscious on Dow’s part for pulling their money or was this Dow setting up the prototype for disposal along the Tittabawassee River? Will James, Saginaw, Thomas or Tittabawassee Twp be the recipient of a slurry pit too? Page 6 of the Framework agreement says Dow can construct a facility like the one on the Saginaw River for their cleanup along the Tittabawassee River.


MDEQ looking for funding for more ground water monitors


MDEQ with their already strapped budget is scrapping and scrounging for funding to augment the pathetic 14 monitors for the 281-acre slurry pit. But isn't it the Corp’s responsibility to fund the monitoring which demonstrates their “ containment” model” is viable? Maybe they just don't want to look too hard… again, what is Saginaw County’s liability?


Why is the resource being put at risk and the taxpayers funding additional monitors and taking on liability for the private sector? These are valid questions. 



401 Certificates


We applauded Director Chester for his willingness to withdraw the Clean Water Act certificate from the Corp if they did not put in the slurry wall. We will never know the political maneuvering that went on but you can bet the decision was political. MDEQ was prepared to defend the water’s of this state until the Lieutenant Governor stepped in. The Corp knew that threatening to walk off with funding for the project, the administration would cave. Does not speak well to the commitment to defend the water resources of this state. The LG didn't even try to broker an agreement. Instead, technical staff was overridden and this administration caved to the Corp’s threat of taking their toys home and their proclamation of sovereign immunity.


As stated in a previous update:


Our rivers, Bay and resources have suffered from decades of myopic, politically motivated, ill thought out planning. Recovering the phenomenal resources of this watershed begins with thoughtful planning.



Once again Saginaw County, MDEQ and the Governor’s office demonstrated their myopic vision. More very soon on this pathetic precedent for the Great Lakes and Michigan’s largest watershed.



 Check out these quotes from the Corp and Saginaw County to the  Federal Court  


“Under federal law, the MDEQ is charged with ensuring discharges meet federal Clean Water Act and Michigan Water Quality Standards


                                       US Army Corp of Engineers to federal brief  2/12/2007



 ….it has undertaken further steps to prevent any discharge to the groundwater by agreeing to incorporate requested “betterments” such as slurry walls and along the perimeter of the facility into the DMDF’s design. These betterments will extend below the groundwater table and create and impenetrable barrier that further ensures no groundwater will migrate to adjacent properties.


                                         Saginaw County ( about the Corp) in their federal brief  2/12/2007




We agree MDEQ is charged with ensuring water quality standards are met. Did the Corp just say this to placate the judge in a court case they didn’t want to lose? Perhaps, they would  say anything to move an under funded project along? Is the charge to MDEQ so easily vacated for political purposes? Are the resource protections in place by statue so easily sacrificed?


Even Saginaw County told the federal court there would be a slurry wall. What no one was saying was that all these betterments to create ( if only in the county and corp’s mind) a state of the art facility was totally dependent on Dow Chemical funding. But no one, including our elected officials wanted to talk about that bogeyman.  





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.