Lone Tree Council and TRW

Dioxin Update

February 17th , 2005 # 33



Dioxin deal still needs some meat on its bones

The Bay City Times Editorial

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

A skeleton of a plan to deal with dioxin along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers has come out of the closet.


Public must bird-dog process at every step

Detroit Free Press Editorial

January 29, 2005

Disappointment is appropriate over the agreement to clean up dioxin in Midland and in areas downstream all the way out to Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron. The settlement framework devised by the state Department of Environmental Quality and Dow Chemical Co. this month is long on studies and short on actions beyond immediate cleanup for some of the most affected residents.

But lamenting the agreement is not going to change it. That means gearing up to take advantage of one of the better parts, its commitment to public involvement from here on out.



The contamination of Michigan's largest watershed is a big deal but so is the contamination of public process

While both the Free Press and Bay City Times call on the public to get involved and scrutinize the process from this point forward it remains troubling that every editorial comment has failed to admonish the state for going behind closed doors with the polluter to conduct the business of the people over resources we own.

History does repeat itself. Whether it was the EPA in the 1980ís, the Engler administration in the 1990ís or the Granholm administration in the 21st century, regulatory agencies and politicians are always willing to grant Dow Chemical a dark corner to hide in, away from the public, the light of day and a full scientific vetting and debate over dioxin. Dow Chemical is happiest operating in the sphere of vague regulatory language like the recent agreement with DEQ; a plan that permits them to be flexible and commits them to nothing substantive.

As citizens are permitted back into the process we can only hope that it's permanent and not contingent on wether Dow or their legislators and apologists are content with how things are going. The people's place at the table is always first and foremost and it doesn't matter where any resident of this watershed lines up on the issue. An open transparent process and the chance to hear all sides of the issue from all viewpoints is imperative if we are to arrive at a sustainable solution to this contamination. Transparency in government should be sacrosanct but it was sacrificed by many and tolerated by others because secrecy benefited their economic or political agendas. Is Dow Chemical a stakeholder? Yes. But the deference and privilege given Dow demonstrates the ongoing and every increasing power of corporations over both political parties and the democratic process. The contamination of Michigan's largest watershed is a big deal but so is the contamination of public process.

After years of the public information control freaks in the Engler/Harding DEQ it was with great relief and enthusiasm that we heard Governor Granholm's inaugural address in January 2003 calling for public participation:

................ And now that the door has been opened, my friends, you must come in. All of you. Come into the halls of government.

In light of recent events I am not so sure this invitation didn't come with a few caveats. Needless to say our enthusiasm has been dampened! The shape and format of upcoming public meetings regarding this issue will be extremely telling. We can only hope it will not be the command and control of information and participation that we witnessed in 2004. Cautious optimism is in order. But we do have a responsibility to be engaged and I encourage everyone to attend public meetings held by the state. Just show up. It's your backyard and your watershed. Be heard and offer up suggestions and ideas which can move this issue along. The Saginaw Bay Watershed is our home and the quality of its natural resources are paramount to our economic and physical well being.

God did not put dioxin in our bodies

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency the average level of dioxin found in the general U.S. population is at or near the level that can be linked to adverse health effects observed in both animals and people. The EPA interprets this to mean that there is little or no "margin of exposure," meaning that we are nearly "full" and that any additional exposure of dioxin can result in adverse health effects. Dioxin is not a normal constituent of the human body and we should not accept that there are normal levels of this contaminant in our bodies or those of our children. Please remember this when dioxin blood samples come back and Dow Chemical tries to tell you these are normal, average or within guidelines. Pregnant woman, children and the developing fetus are the most vulnerable............don't accept Dow's dioxin as a normal part of their lives or bodies.

Dioxin Updates

If you choose not to receive this update in the future just reply to sender (michdave@aol.com) with message remove me in the subject box. Several new folks have joined the list from Bay City, Midland and Arenac County. As always go to the Tittabawassee River Watch website for current news, commentary and information. www.trwnews.net


Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

" The material is exceptionally toxic: it has tremendous potential for producing chloracne and systemic injury."

Dr. VK Rowe, Dow Chemical, in a June 24th 1965 letter to a Dow manager in Canada outlining the dangers of dioxin and the implications for Dow.