For Immediate Release
June 22, 2004
Contact: Michelle Hurd Riddick 989-798-5535
In a meeting yesterday with Governor Jennifer Granholm, Lieutenant Governor John Cherry and Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Chester, residents of the dioxin-contaminated floodplain in mid-Michigan urged the Governor to protect public health and in particular, the region's children, from dioxin contamination. Residents are concerned about recent attempts by Dow Chemical and several Midland area legislators with ties to the chemical giant to delay and in some cases prevent cleanup of their neighborhoods and homes.
"My husband developed a series of illnesses while we were living in our home in the river. We are now concerned that the dioxin contamination we have been living in for 30 years contributed to his unexplained multiple health problems. Two of our otherwise healthy daughters have battled infertility. Our combined health problems are the same as evidenced in studies on dioxin," said Barb Steinmetz, a long-time river resident. "While we thought we were enjoying our uniquely beautiful location on the river, we have come to the realization that over the years, we have been slowly poisoned by subtle, insidious dioxin exposure."
"I told the Governor that I was worried about the health of my young children, and concerned that we can no longer use our yard without worrying that we are putting them at risk," said Marcia Woodman, river resident and mother of three.
Residents called recent legislative attempts to weaken the state's dioxin cleanup standard an outrage, and urged the Governor to be guided by the mountain of scientific evidence that details dioxin's hazards. Michigan's standard is similar to other states that have dioxin cleanup standards. They are based on well-established scientific methods to protect public health.
"The developing baby is most at risk from dioxin's toxicity. Even tiny amounts can threaten a baby's development. Weakening our standard will just put more children at risk. Public health must come first in any cleanup. That is the state law, and that is the ethical and right thing to do," said Michelle Hurd Riddick, of the Lone Tree Council.
"Cleanup decisions must be out in the open, and with full public participation," said Diane Hebert, a Midland resident who wants the right to have her property tested, and cleaned up if necessary. "Midland area legislators don't represent me and my interests, even though I live in Midland. I am absolutely outraged that they are working to eliminate my right to get my yard cleaned up."
Residents also criticized legislative attempts to punish the DEQ for doing their job, and following state law. The house recently passed a budget that cuts the Director's salary by 15% and institutes across the board cuts of 8% in the DEQ budget.
Residents also objected to the plan to use taxpayer dollars that are meant for cleanup to fund a study that Dow is already conducting on dioxin. "Dioxin has been studied for more than ten years by dozens of scientists writing hundreds of papers. This is yet another delay tactic to confuse people and make them think that there are major questions about dioxin's toxicity," said Michelle Hurd Riddick.
Dioxin is a known human carcinogen, and has been linked to a variety of health effects including endometriosis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, decreased testosterone, immunotoxicity, altered sex ratio, delayed breast development, developmental insults including altered thyroid status and neurobehavioral impacts, auto-immune disorders, birth defects, and many other health problems. There is more evidence on dioxin's hazards than almost any other pollutant ever studied. While some areas of uncertainty remain, there is widespread scientific consensus that dioxin is toxic in tiny amounts, and that any additional exposure to dioxin increases our risks.
"This is just like the Hudson River cleanup in New York. The industry fought for years, and continued to claim that PCB's weren't toxic, and that people weren't exposed. But in the end, PCB's are still toxic, and the company was forced to cleanup," said Tracey Easthope, MPH of the Ecology Center.
"There is a massive amount of misinformation circulating about the dioxin cleanup efforts. Dow has done a good job of completely confusing people about the issues. But the facts remain - Dow contaminated the whole region, and that contamination continues to sweep through the watershed, contaminating our backyards and fisheries and wildlife, and poisoning people who are exposed. Its time, after all these years, to finally clean up," said Gary Henry, river resident.
Source: MEC, Lone Tree Council, TRW
For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawasse 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.