River Watch www.trwnews.net
9/29/04 Local radio ads for the Campaign for a Clean Watershed start today
A local radio station, WNEM 1250 AM will begin playing the CCW/Lone Tree Council radio ad today. It's playing when you open this page. For details about the Campaign for a Clean Watershed and information on how to join, visit our CCW page.
Detroit Free Press
Many public officials representing residents with dioxin-contamination property in Midland and Saginaw counties have ties to Dow Chemical Co ... "Obviously, these connections are troubling" ... "I don't think campaign contributions necessarily buy votes, but they certainly buy access" ...
Click here for the summary
For more editorials like these, see our Editorial page
June 24 -- High level talks between Lt. Gov. John Cherry, Chester and Dow begin. The parties only vaguely commented on the meeting topics, saying they included deciding what cleanup is most critical, and how to best balance Saginaw Valley health and economic needs.
Sept. 1 -- John Moolenaar tells the Midland Daily News that a meeting among the concerned parties is planned for Sept. 15 at which he expects a plan of action to be presented.
Sept. 16 -- The state Department of Environmental Quality emerges from negotiations with Dow Chemical Co. not with an agreement about how to proceed with dioxin cleanup, but with a date.
DEQ spokeswoman Patricia Spitzley said the parties plan to reach agreement by Sunday, Oct. 31
Add another entry to the timeline.
October 6, 2004 9:30 A.M. Michigan Supreme Court docket 125205 for oral arguments concerning Medical Monitoring. Location: Michigan Hall of Justice, Lansing MI. Judge Richard A. Griffin
The Saginaw County Board has accepted a bid from Dow Chemical for pay $250,000 a year for 10 years to rename the Saginaw County Event Center the Dow Event Center. Area news media awakened to a call to attend a special meeting this morning to announce the agreement.
Take the money and run, the downtown area of Saginaw can use it.
Timing is everthing in the world of PR, especially since yesterday the State of MIchigan had to issue a Wild Game Consumption Advisory for only the 2nd time in it's history due to Dow's dioxin contamination of our watershed.
James Graham, James Township Commissioner, stated our concerns best: "public leaders must still hold the company accountable for any link between it and the dioxin contamination of Tittabawasse and Saginaw rivers."
Some interesting observations by Michelle Hurd-Riddick of the Lone Tree Council:
"The County Event Center is owned by the taxpayers of the county not just the city. The cost is roughly 16 dollars per year to the individual taxpayer. It is operated under an Authority with oversight from the County Board of Commissioners. MSG is the a private company responsible for the day to day operations of the Center as well as the agent for attracting entertainment
Three years ago, MSG was told to find a corporate sponser. Dow was the highest bidder. This should not come as a suprise. Dow will endeavor to be a presence in this community, much like Midland.
There are serious questions about timing. Why now? For Dow this is about manipulating the "court of public opinion". Dow, unlike the public, is not afraid to be vocal and visible. Dow knows what it wants and what's at stake.
Worth noting the comments of Commissioner Graham and Sangster. 12 of the 15 commissioners were present the vote was 11-1 with Connie Smith voting no. "
"The Michigan Department of Community Health will announce today an advisory against eating wild turkey meat or deer liver and urge consumers to limit consumption of venison and squirrel harvested in or near at least 22 miles of the floodplain along the Tittabawassee River. Although dozens of advisories exist for fish tainted with toxic chemicals, it is only the second time the state has issued such a warning for terrestrial animals." Detroit Press Press
Other excerpts from the Detroit Free Press:
A copy of the official advisory should be available sometime today.
CITIZENS AND GROUPS MOUNT
The Lack of Progress on Midland Dioxin
Yard signs and tee shirts available
CAMPAIGN FOR A CLEAN WATERSHED. www.cleanwatershed.blog-city.comPress Release Imerman Park
Citizens and local environmental groups have had it. Summer has come and gone and the states worst site of contamination has once again not been addressed. Local environmental groups and concerned citizens have decided to launch public campaigns that will: 1. Increase awareness of the contamination 2. Expose Dow Chemical disregard for public health 3. Confront the failure of the State to respond in a timely manner to this contamination. The groups are asking citizens of this watershed to lend their voices to the campaign and their hearts to this great Saginaw Bay Watershed. ....
The groups first ad will appear Sunday in the Saginaw News and will appeal to citizens to volunteer, host a yard sign, sign a public ad, donate -- all efforts designed to pressure Dow and the state to move to address the serious health and property issues posed by its dioxin contamination. ....
The citizens are calling on the state to enforce the MNREPA and cease the closed door negotiations with Dow Chemical. "All stakeholders benefit from the light of day shining on this process", said Terry Miller, Chair of the Lone Tree Council. Dow Chemical is not the only stakeholder on this issue. From day one the venues for public participation have been highly controlled and manipulated. " ....
Do us a favor and print, clip and post an small image of our Yard Sign in your car, on bulletin boards (only those that allow public postings please), etc.. The yard signs and tee's make great political ralley banners. Thanks for your help!
River residents sent a letter to Governor
Granholm seeking an end to the last 3
months of "Engler" like closed
door, behind the scene negotiations with Dow. Prior to the City of Midland meeting on May 26, the
Granholm administration seemed to be following through on it's promise of creating an open
and transparent process in dealing with the Dow Chemical dioxin contamination of the
A recent MIRS (090104 or 090204?) news bite:
In other news, Cherry said he hopes to make an announcement in the coming weeks on an agreement among Dow Chemical, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), environmentalists and the residents of Midland County about dioxin cleanup around the Tittabawassee River. ...
"The picture is far from complete,"
Cherry said. "I would rather have a comprehensive picture about the scope of the
problem than get people excited about dioxin levels in one little spot."
Supposedly Dow, Cherry, and the Moolenaar gang will release the results of their secrete negotiations on September 15, 2004. In our opinion, they are just waiting for the Dow PR department to put the final spin on it and makes the proper contributions to the Camp, Moolenaar, Stamas, and Sikkema PAC.
An Amicus ("Friends of the Court") Brief was filed in Michigan's Supreme Court 9/1/04 supporting the Dow lawsuit plaintiffs efforts to proceed with the Medical Monitoring aspects of the case. Those contributing are:
Click here to view more about the supporting organizations
Click here to view the brief (PDF)
Thanks to those who assisted in the development of the brief and to the Law Offices of Robert B. June, P.C. for drafting the Amicus
The Michigan Supreme Court brief filed by Dow last month in opposition to Medical
Monitoring is for a lack of better term: "twisted". The plaintiff brief
filed 9/1/04 in the Michigan Supreme Court takes to task all of Dow's gibberish and
defines medical monitoring in very simple terms so that even Dow lawyers can understand
Click here to view Plaintiff Brief (pdf)
An Amicus Brief (Friend of the Court) document was filed for the plaintiffs as well, details will be published later. Thanks to those who assisted in the development of the brief and lend their support to the plaintiff's cause:
THE ECOLOGY CENTER, AMERICAN PUBLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION, ENDOMETRIOSIS ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION OF MICHIGAN, GENESEE COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY, PHYSICIANS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH NETWORK, LONE TREE COUNCIL, PUBLIC INTEREST RESEARCH GROUP IN MICHIGAN, SIERRA CLUB,and THE CENTER FOR CIVIL JUSTICE
And a special thanks to the Law Offices of Robert B. June, P.C. for drafting the Amicus and the plaintiff lawyers for crafting the brief: Stueve Siegle Hanson Woody, Spencer Fane Britt & Brown, Trogan & Trogan.
If you happen to be one of the few chosen to participate, please do so. Our concern is not so much with the science as it is with the misrepresentation & statistical manipulation of the data by Dow such as it did with it's Wild Game Study and past exposure studies of it's own employees. Much of the supporting documentation for the study is still unavailable to the public. Even with a $10 million dollar budget, the website for the study, www.umdioxin.org is incomplete as 8/31/04. The residents at the meeting did not have a chance to pose all their questions as the Q&A session was cut short by the Chamber of Commerce UM CAP chair person. Another UM Cap member assured residents in the Dow Lawsuit that they can participate if selected. Until more information is provided by the U of M, you can view background information about the study on our "Studies" page.
See the Dow data from a whole new perspective. This information was gleaned from the 321 page Dow Final report which intentionally presents the results in a manner that most people would never understand. Included are reviews of the Dow WG data by the EPA's Dr. J. Milton Clark and GES's Dr. Hector Galbraith. To date, the MDEQ and MDCH have been ominously silent about the results, what's going on in Lansing?
A recent news story in the Midland Daily News stated an "appraisal submitted in The Dow Chemical Co.'s property tax appeal against the City of Midland indicates dioxin contamination at its corporate headquarters has a negative impact on its property value."
Dow, welcome to the club! Regardless of how you attempt to spin these facts, the evidence is clear. Your own appraisers state what we have been saying for years: the property damage to the owners of dioxin contaminated flood plain property is real.
In the article, Dow goes on to say that home sales and property values in the affected areas are not impacted by Dow's dioxin contamination. The fact that we disagree should not surprise anyone, that's why a lawsuit was filed. Unfortunately, Dow is doing everything in it's power to avoid the truth and it's day in court.
There are many aspects to understanding the real estate value of chemically tainted property. The fact that houses sell for a while after the announcement of the contamination is true, what happens later is the crux ot the matter. This phenomenon is well researched and documented in other contamination cases.
Click here to read an excellent paper on the subject "Appraisal of Contaminated Property in the United States" published in October 2003 by Mundy Associates, a well respected expert in Economic, Market & Valuation Analysis. The paper cites many other references to support it's position. Subjects include:
BOSTON, August 10, 2004 Shareholders of Dow Chemical have formally asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate misleading statements by management concerning the companys potential environmental and personal injury liabilities. In a letter sent August 10, 2004 to the SEC, Attorney Sanford Lewis, representing the shareholders, requests scrutiny of "a number of inadequacies and irregularities in disclosures and public statements" that are "highly relevant to the financial interests of investors."
Why is there no mention of the fact that Dioxin and other
Persistent Organic Pollutants are so toxic that there is an international convention, the
Stockholm convention (see http://www.pops.int/ )
under which numerous countries including Australia have agreed to eliminate where possible
sources of POP's including Dioxin. People in the US have far higher dioxin body burden and
dioxin intake than Australia and New Zealand, but even Australia has signed up for
Stockholm, finalized 12 technical reports on Dioxin (see http://www.deh.gov.au/industry/chemicals/dioxins/index.html
Time for DEQ, MDCH, local health departments and every elected official to get serious about this issue. Look at the facts. According to 3 rounds of DEQ soils sampling we have high dioxin concentration pervasive and deep the entire length of the T-river. We have concentrations in people's backyards from 200 to 5,000ppt. Imerman, Freeland Festival, West Michigan Parks and Green Point all have levels from 150 to 7,000ppt. We have contaminated fish, which present an "unacceptable risk to human health," we have contaminated duck and chicken eggs and we have deer and turkey which far exceed levels permitted by the federal government. We are three years into this contamination in the floodplain and 20 years plus into the contamination in Midland. We've had two episodes of flooding this year which deposited additional contaminated sediments onto the floodplain. This river will continue to flood and deposit dioxin in our yards, public parks and communities.
In addition, Dow has a legal obligation under Part 111 and Part 201 of Michigan law to address their contamination. Dow has a federal license which identifies the City of Midland and the T-River Floodplain as offsite release which Dow is responsible to address. What does Dow do:
1. Threaten the state with jobs
Of course, elected officials don't respond to the science or the law; they respond to whomever yells the loudest, and Dow and Midland have a huge voice.................. .Dow is not above the law and Dow is not and should not be the entity to define the toxicity or science on dioxin. The next time you hear Dow say that your largest source of dioxin comes from the food you eat ( that's correct for most people) ask Dow how it got in the food supply. In order to protect the food supply, you have to prevent dioxin from being released, and clean it up when it contaminates watersheds, farmland and communities. As we have seen, the dioxin in soils DOES translate to dioxin in wildlife, eggs and fish. We are never going to get dioxin in the diet reduced until we address dioxin in the environment. (Click here for entire update)
A recent EPA memo (7/30/04) to the MDEQ indicates the results of the Dow Wild Game study in the Tittabawassee River Flood plain are much more serious than the Dow Press release indicates. The EPA goes on to state that they may need "to become engaged in the dioxin contamination problem and to re-enforce existing risks to public health and wildlife". A summary of the memo was published today in the Midland Daily News. Highlights of the memo:
Click here to read the EPA memo.
What is Medical Monitoring?
On 7/29/04, Dow Chemical filed a brief in Michigan's Supreme Court requesting the Medical Monitoring aspect of the suit be dropped. The plaintiffs now have 35 days to file their brief in response to Dow's.
Teresa Woody, lead Council for the Plaintiff's, disagrees with Dow and believes the Flood Plain residents claims is fair. "Where they (Dow) have been (the) cause of the problem, they ought to take responsibility for the medical problems and concerns that these people have". "Most of the progressive states understand that medical monitoring allows (the court) to give the appropriate amount of medical care to people who are exposed to toxic substances". Saginaw News 07/29/04
Average of 68 sites in Lower and Upper
Michigan: 6.3 TEQ
LP-25 Battle Creek 34.7 TEQ
LP-34 Karlin 33.8 TEQ
UP-4 Seney Wildlife Refuge 35.0 TEQ
LP-15 Cadillac 0.6 TEQ
UP-9 Iron Mountain 0.7 TEQ
UP-14 Ontonagon 0.5 TEQ
Click here for to see dioxin measurments from all 68 sites in Michigan
Click here for Nov 1999 MDEQ map of Michigan dioxin sample locations and results (large pdf file)
Tittabawassee Flood Plain MDEQ Phase 1 sampling: Average 998 ppt, highest 7,261 TEQ
Click here to view details
"New Zeelands Ministry for the Environment has collected information on the sources and environmental levels of dioxin-like compounds in New Zealand, and on population exposures to these chemicals, including data on dietary intakes and concentrations in serum. These, and other data collected by the Ministry of Health on PCDD/F body burdens of New Zealanders, have been used in this health risk appraisal. This report also presents a concise review of our current understanding of the health risks associated with exposure to dioxin-like compounds, and reviews various health guidelines that have been established by other jurisdictions
In the light of ever-increasing scientific information concerning the toxicity of dioxin-like compounds, and data on body burdens present in the New Zealand population, we make the following recommendations:
To view the details of the report, vist our Studies page, click here
Differing dioxin standards have differing purposes
My View Column by Dr. Ted Schettler and Dr. Peter Orris
We have followed the recent controversy surrounding dioxin contamination of Midland and the Tittabawassee River flood plain with concern and a sense of déjà vu. In the early 1990s, after contaminating Maine rivers and wildlife with dioxin for years, pulp and paper companies adopted tactics similar to those that Dow Chemical Co. is using today. Then they argued that there was no evidence of harm and that dioxin was not as toxic as previously thought. Today Dow argues that there is no evidence of harm and that the state threshold criterion for soil dioxin, 90 ppt, is too low. Those arguments deserve a response, but not before acknowledging that Dow has, regrettably, contaminated its home community and an extensive downstream watershed with hazardous amounts of dioxina potent toxic chemical that causes cancer, neurodevelopmental disorders, and problems in the immune, reproductive, and endocrine systems at extremely low levels of exposure.
Much of the recent controversy centers on Michigans 90 parts per trillion (ppt) standard vs. the Federal 1000 ppt threshold for dioxin concentrations in soil. Various commentators have compared these as apples to apples. They are not. Michigans 90 ppt soil criterion for dioxin is a level that is meant to be protective of public health in properties for unrestricted residential use. It is generally consistent with similar criteria in many other states. The Federal 1000 ppt threshold serves a very different purpose. It is a level at which there is significant concern about health effects. In fact, the lead Federal agency for public health research and education, the Centers for Disease Control, advises that soil levels exceeding 50 ppt should be a cause of concern, necessitating a more thorough analysis.
Further, State and Federal criteria restrict their focus to cancer as the outcome of concern, though we now know that other health effects occur at lower levels of exposure and may affect the entire population. In fact, due to the array of low-level effects, scientists today are uncertain about the threshold amount of dioxin that may begin to cause or contribute to illness in people. Moreover, dioxin-related health effects are often "hidden" in the general burden of disease and disability in the community. Trying to identify them as "caused by dioxin" is a fruitless task.
The important issues here should not be obscured by inappropriate comparisons of Federal and state criteria. These numbers, which serve two different purposes, are merely aids to understanding the magnitude of contamination and its likelihood of causing human health effects. Dow does the community a disservice by attempting to minimize the significance of their toxic contamination of the community by adjusting the ruler against which it is measured. That sleight of hand does nothing to protect public health.
It may be disruptive for owners if their property is labeled a "facility" when soil levels of dioxin exceed 90 ppt, but no one should be deceived into thinking that the problem goes away by changing some numbers. The world already knows that Midland and the downstream watershed are contaminated with Dows dioxin. As this story unfolds, residents should be very careful to protect their own health and economic interests, and not forego remedies that will likely be welcome, including, but not limited to, access to clean up.
Ted Schettler MD, MPH
Ted Schettler MD, MPH
Peter Orris MD, MPH
The EPA's world renowned dioxin expert, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, will not be giving a presentation in the Saginaw area in July as previously promised. The reason for the cancellation is not clear, we are hearing rumors ranging from a "scheduling conflict" to "State officials agreed to postpone meeting at Dow's request", pick the version you like best. The MDEQ is now talking with her about other dates, possibly in October 2004. The reason we remain skeptical: At the Tittabawassee Township board meeting on 7/13, a Mr. Heinzelman stated something to the effect "you will not be seeing her anytime soon" in response to TRW's statement that board & residents should hold off on their dioxin resolution (see 7/13 below) until they hear Dr. Birnbaum presentation on July 27. Mr. Heinzelman is the lead in a local group of Dow supporters trying to alleviate Dow's responsibility for the dioxin contamination. We suspect they they have a direct conduit to Dow PR group as they are constantly reciting Dow spin and attacking anyone with a differing opinion. A member of the Tittabawassee Township adhoc-dioxin committee was totally unaware of this development. Where did Mr.Heinzelman get this information? Why would Dow have an interest in this? Is this the begining of the demise of an "open and transparent process" promised by the Dow and the State of Michigan? Until the meeting is rescheduled, you can listen to a 70 minute presentation (in 3 minute sound bytes) Dr. Birnbaum made in Ann Arbor accompanied with her PowerPoint presentation, click here.
Tittabawassee Township passed their dioxin resolution tonight that reads as follows:
6 of the 7 board members were present with a unanimous vote. The board is a
political entity and said they had no choice but to produce some type of resolution as
they are elected to represent the community. The original draft submitted by a group of
Dow supporters was full of the typical Dow propaganda including raising the states RDCC
from 90 ppt to 1000 ppt. Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed and the Townships adhoc
dioxin committee did a great job in removing most of the crazy stuff. All of the actions
referring to science are already in motion. Recent science being considered by the
EPA, ATSDR, WHO, etc indicate the 90 ppt is based on sound scientific principles and that
if the number is ever revised, it will be down, not up.
The "resolution" is just a piece of paper at this point, however, Dow
supporters in other communities will now be tempted to produce a similar document.
It will be interesting to see what the Dow funded legislators do with it.
We suspect they will spin the resolution by not mentioning any of the above and/or
omit the language which gives a person to right to remain a Dow facility so that Dow
remains responsible for the contamination. Stay tuned....
Steenland, K., Bertazzi, P., Baccarelli, A., Kogevinas, M., 2004. Dioxin revisited: developments since the 1997 IARC classification of dioxin as a human carcinogen. Environ. Health Perspect. In Press. doi:10.1289/ehp.7219 (available at http://dx.doi.org)
In 1997 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified 2,3,7,8-TCDD
(tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin, the most potent dioxin congener, hereafter referred to as simply TCDD) as a Group 1 carcinogen based on limited evidence in humans, sufficient evidence in experimental animals, and extensive mechanistic information indicating that TCDD acts through a mechanism involving the Ah receptor which is present in both humans and animals. The judgment of limited evidence in humans was based primarily on an elevation of all cancers combined in four industrial cohorts. The Class 1 classification has been somewhat controversial, and has been challenged in the literature in recent years. Here we review the epidemiologic and mechanistic evidence which has emerged since 1997. New epidemiologic evidence consists primarily of positive exposure-response analyses is several of the industrial cohorts, as well as evidence of excesses from several specific cancers in the Seveso accident cohort. There are also new data regarding how the Ah receptor functions in mediating the carcinogenic response to TCDD. We conclude that the new evidence generally supports the 1997 IARC classification.
In response to the half truths, omissions, misinformation,
command and control of questions and meeting agenda at the City of Midland public
meeting on May 26, the MDEQ has produced
a 15 page report addressing 19 alleged questions posed by Midland residents. This
report provides the answers State and Federal staff and scientists where not allowed to
address at the meeting.
Contrary to Dow's and it's hired representatives, Michigan's 90 ppt dioxin RDCC standard is
based on science, no adjectives required.
It's the same science used around the world to address dioxins impact on human
health. Refer to the end of each document for references to the scientific research
supporting the standard, including studies done by Dow (Kociba, R. J. et al. 1978.)
For those who believe the science is flawed, speak up and provide specific examples and
perhaps the EPA, ATSDR, or MDEQ can clarify (this invitation is not extended to Dow or
Dennis Paustenbach, the EPA has already commented on their flawed theories, click here)
SB 1066-- MDEQ Budget - fiscal year 2004-05, the House approved a budget for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) that reinstated the Hazardous Waste Management Program, but retained reductions in staffing levels by 8%, and reduces general fund support for the department by 15%.
The bill also includes $800,000 to pay for a dioxin bio-availability study using Clean Michigan Initiative (CMI) funding (1998 bond approved by the voters for contamination cleanups).
The use of CMI money to pay for a study to benefit the Dow Chemical Company is an
inappropriate use of those funds - and breaks a promise to voters who supported the CMI
bonds. At the same time, no new sites of environmental contamination are being
addressed by the state due to budget shortfalls. Click here for additional details.
Senate - Senators McManus, Goschka, Barcia
Sen. McManus: http://www.senate.michigan.gov/ima_form.asp?name=COMMENT35&form_path=c:/webforms/rep
7/1/04 EPA Dioxin Reassesment Report status update
STATUS: July 2004 The release of the U.S. EPAs Dioxin Reassessment Report, a study on the sources and health risks of our exposure to dioxin that has been 16 years in the making, continues to be delayed for an indefinite period of time. An Interagency Working Group (IWG) reviewed the dioxin reassessment report in 2003, communicating a level of concern to EPA that triggered a request for the National Academy of Sciences to conduct another review of the science. The IWG is co-chaired by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), agencies that have an overriding interest in minimizing the economic impact of dioxin regulation on the cattle, dairy and other food industries. Inside sources have revealed to CHEJ that although the funding has not yet been given to the National Academy for its review, HHS and USDA have finally settled on their charge to the committee: to find anything that is not perfect about the draft reassessment! This fishing expedition is just one more piece of evidence that the Administrations over-riding concern is to keep this potentially explosive report sitting safely on a shelf until well after the November elections in fact, for as long after that as possible. Source: www.chej.org