Lone Tree Council and TRW

Dioxin Update

January 14, 2005 # 30


Happy New Year. It's January 2005:

26 years and 5 months since Dow Chemical was identified as the primary, if not sole contributor to dioxin contamination in Midland, the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay. (August 8, 1978, communication to J. Merenda, Director, Assessment Division, OTE/OTS from F. Kover)

19 years and 2months since high dioxin levels were found in the City of Midland ( Milt Clark EPA Oct. 1985)

4 years and 3 months since high dioxin concentrations were found at Greenpoint in Saginaw Co. ( Oct. 12th 2000 e-mail exchange between Dr. L. Dykema MDCH and Ms. Sue Kaelber Matlock, MDEQ)

36 months since Lone Tree Council and MEC issued press release detailing the dioxin contamination of the entire Tittabawassee River. The finding a result of a Freedom of Information request.

1 month since the highest levels of dioxin ( 11,000 ppt) to date were identified in the Saginaw River. ( US Army Corp of Engineers)


Groups Urge Governor toward a successfull conclusion to the closed door negotiations with Dow 12-27-04

Closed negotiations between Michigan and Dow Chemical Company regarding the cleanup of dioxin were slated to conclude October 31st, but have dragged on an additional two months. The Michigan Environmental Council, the Lone Tree Council, Sierra Club, Ecology Center, Clean Water Action, Tittabawassee River Watch, Citizens Against Toxic Chemicals, and Environmental Health Watch released cleanup guidelines in anticipation that the results of the negotiations will soon come to an end soon.

In a a seven-point set of dioxin cleanup guidelines for the Midland-Saginaw Bay area, we urged the Granholm administration to successfully conclude still-secret talks with Dow Chemical Company over the fate of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw River watersheds.

The guidelines we released are reasonable and outline what we believe any acceptable cleanup plan should address. Although the cleanup guidelines are targeted at the Saginaw Bay watershed the same questions need to asked about rivers throughout the state which is the reason so many others in the environmental community are coming to the table on this issue. Precedents will be set that impact all of Michigan's waters.

The eight groups released the following guidelines that will be used to evaluate any proposed cleanup plan coming out of the Granholm-Dow negotiations:

1) Will the final goal of any cleanup result in rivers that we can swim
and fish in, that we know are safe as drinking water sources?

2) Will the public have a strong, direct role in ensuring that a
comprehensive cleanup is undertaken?

3) Will the cleanup begin immediately? Are the most contaminated areas
that affect public health and Michigan’s waters being cleaned up first?
What is the specific cleanup schedule?

4) Will the current lawful cleanup standard of 90 parts per trillion be
used? If not, what scientific basis exists for using a standard less

5) Will contaminated soils and sediments be removed using methods,
procedures and containment sites that ensure dioxin poisons will not be
reintroduced into our neighborhoods by the next major flood event?

6) Will the dioxin cleanup agreement be legally enforceable? What, if
any, impact will it have on other existing cleanup agreements between
Dow and the state? What are the consequences if Dow or the state fail to
comply with the agreement?

7) Will the cleanup agreement protect economic growth, public enjoyment
and sustainable development along the riverfront into the future? Or is
it a short-term fix that leaves pollution behind for future generations
to deal with?

A special thanks to Rita Jack of Sierra Club, James Clift of MEC and Dave Holtz of Clean Water Action for their time, attention and support of our efforts. You can visit their websites at http://michigan.sierraclub.org/ http://www.mecprotects/ and http://www.cleanwateraction.org/mi/

Dioxin seen as worst man-made toxin

By Joyce Howard Price

Dioxin, the chemical blamed in the recent poisoning and facial disfigurement of Ukrainian opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko, was described yesterday by a top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency researcher as the "most toxic man-made" substance ever produced.

"Dioxins are very persistent both in the environment and in the body. Once they get into the environment and the body, they do not go away quickly," said Linda Birnbaum, director of the EPA's experimental toxicology division and a world-renowned dioxin expert.

(another snip)

Birnbaum also said there is growing evidence that dioxin levels — even those at the high end of the normal range — might disrupt metabolism and increase the risk of cancer, diabetes and impaired cognitive development.


Best Wishes for a Happy New Year,

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council