Dioxin Update

Lone Tree Council and TRW

April 15, 2007 # 89

www.trwnews.net

 

 

 

Upcoming Court Dates

 

May 7th at 10 am the Michigan Court of Appeals (Detroit) will hear oral arguments in Henry et al vs Dow Chemical.  Judge Borrello’s decision in October 2005 to certify the class action bringing all the plaintiffs together in one suit against Dow Chemical for contaminating their properties along the Tittabawassee River brought an immediate appeal (no surprise) from Dow Chemical.  It’s been a long journey for the residents along the river……….. A five-year journey to date dragged out by Dow’s deep pockets and army of lawyers.

 

April 27th 2pm in US District Court for Eastern Michigan (Bay City) Lone Tree vs US Army Corp of Engineers for failure to do a thorough environmental assessment of the Saginaw River dredging project and disposal of the contaminated sediments along the Saginaw River. 

 

 Status of Other Litigation

 

No Date : Ingham County Circuit Court - National Wildlife Federation and Lone Tree Council vs Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. Filed because MDEQ is failing to ensure water quality standards for the discharge of mercury, PCB’s and dioxin back into the river from the dredge disposal site.

 

Dismissed: Saginaw County (Jim Koski) against Pat Bradt, ZilwaukeeTwp. Dismissed after DEQ and Army Corp of Engineer declined to testify in depositions against Mrs. Bradt, Zilwaukee Twp clerk.  To the best of our knowledge this was the first time Saginaw County ever filed suit against a municipality within the county. For shame!  Mrs. Bradt attempted to attend a dredge meeting-taking place in Zilwaukee Twp when Mr. Koski turned her away. He then sued her for trespassing.

 

No Date: Zilwaukee Twp contested case before the Administrative Law Judge at the DEQ. This case is over the issuance of the floodplain permit to Saginaw County by MDEQ. A serious issue for sure……..if this dredge disposal site floods, the first to take the  hit will be the residents adjacent to the dredge pit.

 

Dropped: Frankenlust Twp dropped their suit against Saginaw County with regard to the portion of the DMDF being sited in their township because of expense and the refusal of the almighty Corp of Engineers to be deposed under oath about this publicly financed project.

 

 

Koski- Sygo Depositions

 

In the last Dioxin Update we shared a news story about Saginaw County attorney’s efforts to keep hidden the depositions  of Jim Koksi and Jim Sygo ( MDEQ) in Frankenlust’s case against Saginaw County, which was heard in Circuit Court in Bay County. To Judge Sheeran’s credit he said no way could these depositions be secreted away. 

 

These depositions are now posted on the Dredge It Right web site. www.dredgeitright.org  I encourage you to read, in particular, Mr, Koski’s deposition for a better understanding of  the machinations of this dredge site and how little Saginaw County’s Koski  knows about this project. Why Saginaw County’s attorney wished to keep these depositions from the public will become obvious as you read.  

 

 

If you've ever wondered if Dow will use the dredge site? Some highlights from Mr. Koski’s deposition. His response in bold print:

 

Mr. Koski admitting the county owns the site

 

Page 13: line 1   " The county owns it"

 

Mr. Koski responding to whether this facility is being built to have the ability to accept materials other than navigational dredge sediments.

 

Page 13: line 10   " I don't know.  I have ---I have no--- the discussions of the design and the safeguards in this facility is outside of my scope”

 

Page 13:  line 14-15 " Although as an owner we have interest, we have-- We have no say so --so basically"

 

 

Mr. Koski’s response about his attendance at the meetings on the design of the facility.

 

Page 14 :  line 1-9  "Some, only some. Those meeting are something---- a lot of times you meet by ---the scientists and the engineers are meeting via telephone conversations and I'm not part of that. I’m most of the time. If there's an issue that comes up that they need a stalemate I have been parts of some meetings that had to deal with--- mainly it's to see what process we're going through and whose responsibility is it to move along "

 

 

Mr. Koski being asked if the DMDF will receive sediments from any other source besides the navigational channel. 

 

Page 16: line 5 “ I can’t say that. I can’t say that”

 

The question was again pursued about the dredge site being limited to navigational sediments. Mr. Koski responds it’s not he county’s intention to allow other materials but:

 

 

Page 16: line 22-24:  “ And if anything else…..because I don’t have control of that site I can’t say what happens in the future”

 

 

                                                                                                                                                    

Folks this is only a smattering of the deposition but it’s illustrative as hell! Saginaw County committed us to liability for a dredge site that we have no control over: A site whose design plan , integral to the long-term integrity of disposal site, is at best a passing interest for Mr. Koski the county’s point man on this project.  I hope each and every county commissioner reads his deposition. 

 

The design will decide how this site will be managed and operated in the future in the best interest of the public. We still are waiting to see the latest Operational Management Plan because it too is fundamental and central to the taxpayer’s liability, the safety of local residents and protection of natural resources.  We first asked to the newest plan in October of 2006. The only reason the public has not seen the recent draft of the Operational Management Plan is because DEQ has decided we cannot see it even though we've seen others. Taxpayer funded and no public meetings in over two years, no design plan and no OMP ......... 

 

 

 

The six-step help program for Mr. Koski  courtesy of Dow Chemical

 

If you read Mr. Koski’s deposition starting on or around page 37 you too may be fascinated by his explanation for Dow’s representative attending the meetings on the DMDF.  Mr. Koski states he was relying on Dow to tell him:

 

1.      What the state could legally ask for

2.      Assist him in making jurisdictional decisions between DEQ & the Corp

3.      Tell him what constituted “safe and unsafe” levels of dioxin

4.       Help him define parameters

5.       To offer counsel

6.       Provide him with technical expertise

 

 The County Board of Commissioners has never taken a position?

 

Starting on page 53 of his deposition when asked the county’s position on the DMDF being used for sediments other than those from the navigational channel, Mr, Koski said, (page 55 line 5)  “ They have never taken a position as far as I know”.

 

 Jim Koski elected official or volunteer?    

 

Mr. Koski’s response when asked about his offices position on the DMDF being used by other parties (page 56 line 2) “ My office has no—I am not doing this—officially the Public Works Commissioner, that doesn’t fall under the privy of an elected official. I volunteered to do this on behalf of the county as an employee. Don’t ask me why now, but that’s what I did. And it’s because they— I could see because of how technical it was there was nobody else available to take on this task.”

 

These comments  beg way too many questions! It boggles the mind. The Public Works Commissioner is not an elected official?  A volunteer? So the taxpayers are not paying him? He’s doing this as a volunteer member of Vision 20/20. …please read this.

 

Frankly if I were the county attorney I would want to keep this depositions from the public too.

 

 

We are living not only in Michigan’s largest watershed but one of its most contaminated. We need leaders with vision and a handle on the big picture.  How we move forward to restore this watershed is important. Construction and permitting (or the failure of) for this dredge project will set a precedent for future cleanups/ dredge projects in our watershed and within the Great Lakes of Michigan. You can bet your bottom dollar, that if and when Dow needs to site a facility along the Tittabawassee River, they will be more than ready to legally demand they be held to a standard no more stringent than the slurry pit being sited along side the Saginaw River.

 

For years shortsighted decisions have been made and we have suffered the loss of phenomenal water resources because of those decisions.  Early on in this project many citizens asked DEQ and the Corp to coordinate the citing, dredging and cleanup of our rivers with the navigational restoration.  Lone Tree asked for all stakeholders to be brought to the table to come up with the best plan for watershed. EPA Region V and some DEQ staff asked for coordination…it didn’t happen.  The response was this was a navigational dredge and had nothing to do with Dow’s cleanup………..but perhaps down the road it could.

 

Two years later, after the public has been pushed aside, litigation initiated, we have memos and documents that show Dow taking part in meetings, DEQ inquiring about the site being used for cleanup, Dow funding betterments for the dredge site, Dow admitting their interest in the site. Folks this didn’t just happen. It was orchestrated in Lansing in the dark without meaningful public input.

 

More in the next update, which will be coming soon………………

 

Best Regards,

 

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.