Lone Tree Council and TRW
May 4th 2006 #67
Pat Bradt (989) 753-6036
Mike Shriberg (734) 662-9797
The Lone Tree Council and co-plaintiff Environment Michigan filed papers yesterday in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan citing the need to protect this region’s long term economic and environmental future. The United States Army Corps of Engineers plans to dredge the Saginaw River and construct a 281 acre, 3.1 million cubic yard facility that will contain dioxin-contaminated sediments. This major federal project has been illegally pushed through the public review process without the completion of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) as required by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA. The proposed site, next to the Saginaw River, sits in the floodplain just a few hundred feet from a residential neighborhood and next to a wildlife game reserve. The site is not a licensed landfill, yet will accept highly toxic, dioxin-contaminated dredge spoils for a minimum of 20 years.
Requesting the federal judge to order this project to undergo a full EIS as required by law, Lone Tree Council’s attorney, Robert B. June, filed suit in Bay City’s federal court today asking for a Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction to delay construction of a proposed Dredged Materials Disposal Facility (DMDF) on the upper Saginaw River until proper review of the site has been completed.
The Lone Tree Council, a 28-year old local environmental group that got its start fighting a nuclear power plant in Midland is ready again to go to the ropes. “Unfortunately, years of pollution, short- sightedness and poor planning have taken their toll on the Saginaw River and Bay. Doing an EIS will require the proponents of this project to do what they should have done from the beginning - to review all of the available options. We believe there are far better options for disposal in licensed existing landfills that will provide an immediate and far more protective solution," said Lone Tree Chairman, Terry Miller.
“The Corps has skipped over procedural steps in a way that would horrify local planning commissions and we fear this short term, hurry-up-and-do-it-at-all-costs agenda is not viable for our communities or river corridor,” according to Zilwaukee township resident Pat Bradt. “Alternatives have not been explored. We need a good solution to protect the long-term economic interests of this community. “Let’s face it, this DMDF is an unlined slurry pit adjacent to the river and we can do better.”
“This case is important because it’s about the public’s right-to-know about a major, polluting activity,” said Environment Michigan Director Mike Shriberg. “Residents should be fully informed and allowed to intervene before toxic sediment is dumped in backyards and waterways. The Corps should not be allowed to trump the rights of local citizens and our environment.”
The groups contend that the Corps’ decisions were based on an alleged urgency to dredge, limited sampling of river sediment for dioxins, and the need to secure a site quickly “We are just asking for the same thing the law requires of every similar project – a careful analysis of the likely environmental impacts. Any time we take highly contaminated material from one location and put it in another location we really ought to take a good, hard look at how it will affect our environment. It’s the right thing to do.” said plaintiff’s attorney, Robert B. June.
“Every Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) and Dredged Materials Disposal Facility (DMDF) in Michigan has completed an EIS,” said Lone Tree Council spokeswoman Michelle Hurd Riddick. “Why shouldn’t this one? It is being built in a floodplain that was, in fact, flooded in 1986, in farmed wetlands, next to a State Game Area. It has no approved construction plans, no approved management and operation plans and no federal water discharge permit. The dioxins in the Saginaw River are the same ones which in the Tittabawassee River triggered all kinds of public health and environmental interventions by regulatory agencies.”
The proposed Dredged Materials Disposal Facility, which straddles Zilwaukee and Frankenlust Townships, has encountered fierce opposition from township trustees.
Recently, the two townships went to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) complaining that Saginaw County Public Works Commissioner, Jim Koski, improperly signed a document requesting the property be legally taken out of the floodplain. Mr. Koski signed his name where the townships were to sign. The townships have also asked FEMA to evaluate the Corps’ dike construction integrity and require that the project undergo a federal review process before construction begins.
With the assistance of the National Environmental Law Center’s Stephanie Matheny as co-counsel for this NEPA case, Lone Tree Council (LTC) and Environment Michigan remain optimistic that for the first time a full public vetting of the Corps’ project will take place in the public arena. NELC successfully represented LTC in a lawsuit against Dow Chemical in Midland, MI for Clean Water Act violations in the 1990’s.
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.