DIOIXN LEVELS IN THE TITTABAWASSEE RIVER and FLOODPLAIN EXCEED 83,000 ppt
In a joint press release today and available along with the data on DEQ's website, Dow Chemical and DEQ announced the discovery of very high levels of dioxin on the banks and in the Tittabawassee River.
We were all surprised in 2001 when they discovered 7,000 ppt in the farm field near Green Point. Surprised yet again when DEQ discovered in 2002 levels of 8,000 ppt in Imerman Park. In 2004 we were shocked about Dow ( during their clandestine testing) finding 24,000 ppt in the Tittabawassee near the Saginaw Twp water treatment plant. 20005 found 16,000 ppt had migrated down to the Saginaw River just behind the Saginaw News building downtown. Today concentrations as high as 87,000 ppt in the floodplain and 83,000 ppt in the river were made public.
That there is agreement between Dow and DEQ to undertake activities to remove these high levels is a good thing. It's unfortunate that it took a number so high to find consensus. For far too long DEQ and Dow have not been able to agree on a number that would require a removal of contaminated sediments from the river.
For the first time in the history of this contamination DEQ is going to require removal of contaminated sediments but it took an alarming number of 83,000 ppt to get any action. Not acceptable!
These latest numbers are astounding and far exceed anything to date found in the Tittabawassee River or floodplain. We have repeatedly asked DEQ what's the threshold for dioxin cleanup? What number ( ppt) would require sediment removal from the river? We have yet to get an answer. Surely it isn't as high as 83,000 ppt! Last we were told, Dow Chemical and DEQ could not agree upon a number. Interesting that the regulator needs the agreement of the polluter in order to settle on a number protective of public health and natural resources. Just last year in a Florida community regulators cleaned up dioxin to a state standard of 30 ppt. In Michigan, however, everything is negotiable with Dow Chemical.........science, resources, time frames, operating license etc...
In the past few years DEQ commissioned a number of studies by Galbraith Environmental Services to ascertain ecological thresholds. Dr. Galbraith's findings for impairment? 50 ppt ( dioixin/furan) for mammalian populations and 10 ppt to 200 ppt for bird species. State ( human) residential contract criteria is 90 ppt............Arriving at cleanup number may not be politically comfortable but it is certainly scientifically defensible.
Today's DEQ/ Dow press release states future activities with regard to these high dioxin numbers will include:
"...................measures that will ensure a timely approach that will achieve the greatest protections for human health and minimizes harm to the environment and natural resources". Would have to assume that in an effort to achieve the greatest protections for the inhabitants, DEQ would need an identifiable number to clean up to or protect against exposure. What is that number?
Dow stated that the 83,000ppt is not a public health threat. ( See today's Saginaw News) Surely DEQ will not hold their breath waiting for Dow to acquiesce to defining a cleanup level. As Lone Tree Council chairman, Terry Miller, stated to MDN , DEQ needs to stiffen their spine............. Hopefully 2007 will find EPA insisting on some concrete numbers from DEQ.
As DEQ oversees Dow's next phase of mapping and sampling it is imperative that DEQ establish the number for cleanup/removal/ interim response along the Tittabawassee River.
You can find Dr. Gailbraith's studies along with today's DEQ/ Dow Press Release on the DEQ web site.
Below are links to stories in the Midland Daily News and the Saginaw News.
could begin this month
Midland Daily News
By Kathie Marchlewski
A first attempt to get some of the dioxin contamination out of the
Tittabawassee River could begin as early as this month. Triggered by
test results that show levels of the toxin at levels nearly 1,000
times the state's cleanup standard, The Dow Chemical Co. is preparing
to take action that could include digging up river sediment and
shoring up eroding riverbanks.
Dioxin at record levels
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.