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TRW Archives 2004 4th quarter 10/01/04 - 12/31/04

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12/31/04  Proposed ACE river dredging the cheapest, not safest method

Regarding the editorial, "Dredging plans can't run aground", Dec. 15: We are in agreement that the economic and environmental benefits of dredging the Saginaw River are huge, and we support dredging the river, but not on the cheap as proposed by the U.S. Army Corps. of engineers and Saginaw County.

This site was chosen because it was the cheapest, not the safest.

The disposal site is in the 25 year floodplain of fertile farm land in the backyard of many residents in Zilwaukee Township.  Dioxin concentrations in the Saginaw River are higher than any found in the Tittabawassee River, where people are fighting to get it out of their backyards.

This landfill site is no high-tech model.  There will be no daily cover.  It's a slurry pit with a conduit to run water back to the river on specified days, with no water treatment infrastructure planned at this time.  The Environmental Protection Agency, in letters sent to the Corps. of Engineers as recently as last month, had some strong concerns about this project.  Concerns that address the appropriateness of placing such heavily contaminated soils in this landfill, fishing habitat, structure ability to withstand flooding, bald eagle protections, and movement of contaminated sediment to Lake Huron.  None of these issues are insignificant. The corps has repeatedly declined an Environmental Impact Statement, something we should agree is relevant and significant for Lake Huron, public health, and the wildlife inhabitants of our watershed.

In June 2003, Dow Chemical was issued an operating license that holds it responsible for dioxins found in the Saginaw River and Bay; dioxins subject by Michigan law  to response activities and cleanup.

Dow is responsible for the dioxin in the Saginaw River.  Negotiations with Dow should include financial and technical expertise to place these and any future dredged and contaminated soils in a hazardous waste landfill off the floodplains.  Business owners along the river an the taxpayers should not bear the financial and long-term liabilities alone.

Those 280 jobs are important, but so are fishing, hunting, tourism,  and recreation in the largest watershed in Michigan.  Public health, natural resource protection and quality of life are paramount to attracting tourism, visitors and prospective businesses.

Lets dredge the river, but let's do it right.  Jobs and a clean environment are not mutually exclusive.

Michelle Hurd Riddick, Lone Tree Council  (Letter to the editor Saginaw News 12/29/04)

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12/27/04 
Groups Challenge Granholm On Dioxin Cleanup Goals

- Urge ‘Secret’ Dow Talks Toward Successful Finish

Community residents and state and local environmentalists today released
a seven-point set of dioxin cleanup guidelines for the Midland-Saginaw
Bay area, urging the Granholm administration to successfully conclude
still-secret talks with Dow Chemical Company over the fate of the
Tittabawassee and Saginaw River watersheds.

"This situation has gone on long enough," said Michelle Hurd Riddick, a
Midland area resident and Lone Tree Council member. "The recent
disclosure confirming highly elevated levels of dioxin contamination
along the Saginaw River must be taken by the Granholm administration and
public health officials as clear indication of the need to require Dow
to move swiftly to remove dioxin contaminated soils and sediments from
our communities. The guidelines we are releasing today outline what
community residents believe an acceptable cleanup plan should address."


Click here for the entire press release
 

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12/27/04  Where does it all go?

     

We are not sure of what exactly the satellite photo on the right depicts, but it sure looks like a plume of river sediment reaching out into the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.   Click on the images for a larger view.   The image on the left shows the flow of the Tittabawassee River from Dow Chemical in Midland Michigan to south of the City of Saginaw where it is joined by the Flint & Shiawassee Rivers to form the Saginaw River.  The combined rivers flow north through Saginaw to Bay City, into the Saginaw Bay, and evidently all the way out into Lake Huron.  The total trip from Dow to the Bay is approximately 43 miles.   Is it any wonder that dioxin has been found in the sediment of the Saginaw Bay

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12/23/04  Public not welcome to dioxin meeting with Dow, Camp, Moolenaar, Stamas

Isn't it great to see our elected officials sneaking around and cutting backroom deals with Dow?  Is this another example of the open and transparent process promised by Governor Granholm?  Makes me proud to be an American.  Actually, select individuals from the public where invited, but only those who support the Dow mantra.  This is unacceptable.   Residents of our watershed have a right to the same information if our elected public officials are participating.   Since no one will tell the public what's going on with Lt. Governor Cherry's secret negotiations with Dow, we must speculate this meeting was called to put the final touches on their plan to let Dow off the hook.  The Dow Legislators where probably given their marching orders to line up the EPA and the State Legislatures for the next attack on the health and property rights of Michigan's Citizens.   The current state of affairs has an almost uncanny resemblance to what happened in December of 2002 when the corrupt Engler/Harding administration tried to pull the same kind of stunt with Dow's CACO.   Granholm, are you listening?

From the Midland Daily News:

"Midland Tomorrow, the local economic development corporation, invited Dow Chemical Co. representatives, local lawmakers, elected officials, Chamber of commerce representatives and the Midland city manager to talk about recent developments relating to the situation, including a review of progress on the University of Michigan-conducted study on human dioxin exposure.
In attendance at the City Hall meeting were Congressman Dave Camp, State Sen. Tony Stamas and State Rep. John Moolenaar. The meeting was not open to the public. "


Click here for the entire article

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12/22/04  Source of Saginaw River Dioxin

Recent Saginaw River Fingerprint December 04                                 Phase 2 Fingerprint Freeland Festival Park June 03

 

The dioxin congener "Finger print" graph on the left is from draft data of recent Saginaw River sediment dioxin testing by the Army Corp of Engineers. The one on the right is from MDEQ Phase 2 sampling of Freeland Festival park soil which is at least 22 miles upstream of the Saginaw River sampling site.  Click on the graphs for an enhanced view.  Notice any similarities?  Dow states they may not be the source.  Hmmmmm?

bullet ACE Saginaw River sediment dioxin testing draft data and additional graphs
bulletTittabawassee Flood Plain dioxin fingerprints, Phases 1 and 2 overview
bulletMDEQ Flood Plain Dioxin testing Phase 2 Final Report 2003 (huge pdf file, includes all charts and data)
bulletMDEQ Baseline Chemical Characterization of Saginaw Bay Watershed Sediments 2002 (huge pdf)

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12/20/04  How long has it been?

bullet178 days since Lt Governor Cherry shut down communication with public and went behind closed doors to "negotiate" with   Dow.
bullet208 days since last MDEQ CAP meeting
bullet75 day's waiting for Michigan Supreme Court ruling on medical monitoring
bullet638 day's since Class Action Lawsuit against Dow filed
bullet1054 days since public informed of Tittabawassee Flood Plain dioxin contamination

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12/17/04  EPA says dioxin the "most toxic man-made" substance ever produced

The Washington Times reports a reputable EPA researcher, Dr. Linda Birnbaum, thinks "there is growing evidence that dioxin levels — even those at the high end of the normal range — might disrupt metabolism and increase the risk of cancer, diabetes and impaired cognitive development."  These comments where made in during an interview about Mr. Yushchenko's recent dioxin poisoning.  "[Mr. Yushchenko] was clearly given a very high dose ... if it goes away, it won't be quickly," she said. Dr. Birnbaum is a member of the U of M Scientific Advisory Panel which is investigating dioxin exposure in Mid Michigan.  Click here to view the entire article.

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12/09/04  43 miles to go - and then some ...

An article in the Saginaw News states work has begun on stabilizing the east bank of the Tittabawassee River in Imerman Park.   Imerman, like almost every other property adjacent to the river, is flooded frequently.  During these floods,  the dioxin contaminated soil is redistributed.  Stabilizing the banks might be a good idea if they shored up all 44 miles of banks (22 on each side).  However, stabilizing approximately 1 mile of a bank in Imerman will do little to protect those who actually live in the mess 24x7.  Will all the river residents downstream of Dow receive a  grant to stabilize river banks and install walkways with railings so they can use their property again?

Click here for a large number of photographs of Imerman Park   in the Spring of 2004 after 1 of the 4 floods  that induated properties for the entire stretch of  river downstream of Dow.  The dioxin contaminated white sand you see all over the park and backyards (not just on the banks) was spread over almost every property located in the flood plain.  But this is a start.  Once Dow finishes  the parks river bank,  they can repeat the process for the remaining 43 miles, followed by dredging the river,  hauling the spoils  back to Midland (barges?), and   starting the whole process over again on he Saginaw River (see next 2 articles).   Think Dow will step up to the task at hand????

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12/08/04  EPA says much if not all dioxin in Saginaw River sediment originated in Midland

Excerpt from EPA memo to ACOE on proposed Saginaw River Dredged Material Disposal Facility:

"The Saginaw River is a significant source of dioxin to the Great Lakes. The sediments within the watershed, as well as floodplain soils, are highly contaminated with dioxins and furans. Much, if not all, of this contamination is thought to have originated in Midland, Michigan. Throughout much of the twentieth century, hydraulic forces within the watershed have dispersed these contaminants downstream throughout the Tittabawassee and Saginaw River Watershed. Currently dioxin and furan contaminated sediments can be found extending into Lake Huron. The sediment transport mechanisms which have resulted in the current distribution of the contamination continue unabated. U.S. EPA believes that maintaining navigational depths on the river will help to mitigate the migration of contaminant sediments downstream and into Saginaw Bay. Dredging will result in the removal of some contaminated sediments, which serve as continuing sources of dioxin to the watershed.   Also, dredged areas may act as a sediment sinks, which may impede the migration of contaminated sediments downstream."

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12/07/04  Saginaw River sediment dioxin levels found higher than 11,000 TEQ

Recent MDEQ testing of the Saginaw River detected sediment dioxin contamination at levels exceeding 11,000 TEQ.   This is over 1000 times the States RDCC of 90 ppt and over 100 times the ATSDR action level for dioxin contamination.  The results are not surprising when you consider the the flow of the watershed from Dow's Chemicals plant in Midland > Tittabawassee River > Saginaw River > Saginaw Bay > Lake Huron.  Dow will be quick to jump in and say the dioxin is not theirs.  We say prove it!  Click here to view Lone Tree Council Press Release containing dioxin test results of recent sampling.

The Upper Saginaw River requires dredging to maintain it's commercial shipping channel.   The ACOE is suggesting 281 acres of prime farmland located in the flood plain and adjacent to a residential neighborhood in Zilwaulkee Township be the location of a Dredged Materials Disposal Facility (DMDF).  For more information on the proposed plan go to the MDEQ Water web site page, click here.   Public comment on the process is open until December 20, 2004.  Please let the MDEQ know how you feel about this situation by sending them to Gerald Saalfeld, Water Bureau, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, POB 30273, Lansing, Michigan, 48909.

In our opinion and in light of these recent test results, the ACOE and the MDEQ must stop the DMDF approval process now and perform an Environmental Impact Study before any further action is taken.  Alternative locations should be found for the DMDF.   We suggest Dow property in Midland County become the final resting place for the spoils.  Dow and the City of Midland do not consider dioxin a health hazard and the population has been conditioned by Dow PR to accept close proximity to hazardous substances as a normal way of life.  The perfect match!  As the crow fly's, Midland is a short rail hop from the Saginaw river.  Just dredge the river, load the rail cars in a temporary processing area by the river, and haul it back to Midland.   Just make sure Dow allocates enough land to hold the spoils for a future dredging of the Tittabawassee River.

Note: A local TV channel reported that the proposed DMDF was for Tittabawassee River dredging material.  This is incorrect.  As stated in yesterdays Lone Tree Council Press Release on the matter, the current DMDF proposal is for the SAGINAW RIVER.   The Tittabawassee was not mentioned. 

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12/06/04  Freedom of Information Act reveals extremely high levels of dioxin in Saginaw River

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 6, 2004

UPPER SAGINAW RIVER DIOXIN SAMPLING RESULTS RAISE TROUBLING QUESTIONS

High Numbers Prompt Groups to Ask County and Corps to Rethink Dredging Project

Through the Freedom of Information Act, Lone Tree Council and Citizens Against Toxic Substances (CATS) has learned sediment sampling for dioxin in the Upper Saginaw River, conducted by the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACOE), far exceeds any samples identified along the Tittabawassee River. A total of 50 samples revealed concentrations as high as 11, 812 ppt (TEQ) in the Saginaw River.

Click here for the entire Lone Tree Council Press release

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12/06/04  Consider the source

Monday, December 06, 2004

Editor, The Saginaw News:

In response to Dr. Michael Carson's letter Nov. 30 on dioxin and cancers, I say, consider who he works for.

Contrary to what Dr. Carson states, a report issued by the Michigan Department of Community Health in 2002 revealed that "exposed" Dow workers experienced "slight excesses" of prostate, stomach, lymphatic, blood and other types of cancers when compared to "unexposed" workers.

Furthermore, the more workers were exposed, the more likely they were to die from stomach and prostate cancers. The report also noted that, when Midland's two ZIP codes were analyzed separately, "higher-than-expected numbers of all cancers combined" were found in the ZIP code where Dow's chemical plant is located when compared to the entire state of Michigan for the years 1994 through 1998, according to an April 5, 2002, Detroit Metro Times article.

I feel Dr. Carson is taking Saginaw County Department of Public Health Medical Director Dr. Neill Varner's words out of context.

Varner merely said that we must not conclude that all cancers in people living in the floodplain are caused by dioxins. It is irresponsible for anyone to conclude that some local cancers could not be attributed to local dioxin exposures.

Remember Dow vehemently denying that the dioxin in the floodplain was its two years ago, and stating it was safe to eat wild game from the area, only to have the state issue a wild game advisory? Dow's PR machine is in full gear.

Don't believe everything you read. Consider the source.

Kathy Henry
Freeland

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12/02/04  Bhopal - 20 year anniversary

This week marks the twentieths anniversary of the Bhopal incident.  Paul Damore, a resident of the of the Tittabawassee Flood plain, has started a petition drive at Grand Valley State University "asking the school to ban any donations from Dow until it takes responsibility for contamination in Bhopal and along the Tittabawassee River".   Click here for the entire story.  

Other media coverage of Bhopal:

bulletBhopal's poisonous legacy
bullet5 minutes past midnight
bulletFear of catastrophic chemical leaks remains
bulletTale of two cities: Bohpal and Saginaw

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11/29/04  EPA Dioxin Reassessment Report delay

A White House science official in a surprise move announced plans to release a report on dioxin in an apparent attempt to show administration progress on monitoring and controlling for the highly controversial pollutant. But the move has already drawn protests from environmentalists who say development of the report will likely further delay release of EPA’s dioxin risk review, which has been 13 years in the making. ...

But an environmentalist at the meeting dismisses the value of the new report in assessing public health risks from dioxin. "This [progress report] is largely a public relations exercise that mirrors the industry line about declining industrial emissions" even though EPA’s own findings show that current body burdens may pose public health risks that require more immediate action, the source says. ...

The environmentalist says EPA’s inability to release its dioxin risk review, which has undergone numerous scientific peer reviews, has prevented a host of state and local governments from taking action on contamination that continues to pose threats to their residents. "Local governments lack the resources to carry out this kind of risk assessment and are waiting for this to be completed before they can start cleanups. But now it looks like it will be at least another two years before it is finalized," the source says. ...

Click here for the entire story.   The original report was released in draft form in 1991.  Since then, repeated reviews and delays introduced by the chemical industry have prevented release of the final report.  Click here for a detailed discussion of this process: Behind Closed Doors.

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11/28/04  Trespass against us

A new book out this year is  a must read for anyone trying to understand Dow's pollution of the Tittabawassee.   As the book points out in considerable detail (Chapter 19 details the Tittabawassee dioxin contamination), other communities from around the world are fighting the same battle.  We  are not alone.  Dow accepts its pollution of local communities as a normal business practice and understands that few can do anything about it because of their deep pockets and political reach.

bulletTrespass against us - Dow Chemical & the toxic century, Jack Doyle, 2004, ISBN 1-56751-268-2.  The book is available locally at Barnes and Noble as well as on-line at Amazon.com, etc.
bulletDoyle was asked if he was urging humanity -- those who have been polluted by Dow chemicals -- to forgive Dow for its trespass against us.

"Not at all," Doyle said. "By using the 'trespass against us' phrase, I am trying to make visible the invisible -- trying to show that there are boundary lines being violated daily by toxic substances. Corporations are making a profit on the invasion of my personal space, my biology. They are not controlling the full costs of their operation, and we are picking up the tab for their externalities in form of disease, illness, lower immunity, altered reproduction, birth defects, cancer. That's not right. That's a mortal trespass, an unforgivable transgression that must be stopped. We are certainly not calling on consumers to ask that companies be forgiven -- quite the opposite. They need to be prosecuted. Companies like Dow are getting away with biological trespass daily."

bulletReview from Common Courage Press: The Dow Chemical Company has been trespassing on private property for decades and getting away with it. The trespass in this case is harmful and it is toxic. For the transgressors at issue are man-made synthetic chemicals, more then 100,000 of which have been "invented" and let loose in the world since the 1930s. Yet many of these chemicals are toxic to life and have been doing harm for years, insinuating themselves into blood, body tissue, sperm and egg. "Body burdens" of toxic chemicals are now being measured in humans and wildlife all over the globe. The result is not a pretty picture: cancers, birth defects, poisoned workers, and polluted communities. The guilty parties in these transgressions, however, have not been brought to account, and they have not been stopped. To this day, "toxic trespass" continues, and it is poisoning all of us.

Trespass Against Us is a story of how one company's chemical products and byproducts have damaged, and continue to damage, public health and the environment. Known in the 1960s for producing the lethal Vietnam War defoliant, Agent Orange, and more recently for acquiring Union Carbide's still-unresolved Bhopal legacy, Dow Chemical today is a company at the manufacturing headwaters of many of the world's most problematic chemicals, including pesticides, plastics and solvents. Dow's organochlorines have unleashed dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, among the most lethal substances on the planet. Dow pollutants and known carcinogens also continue to spew from its factories, waste dumps, and incinerators worldwide. .

Trespass Against Us is a story of "invent-first-and-ask-questions-later" chemistry; of toxic and hazardous materials pushed into commerce before being fully tested; and of future generations burdened with toxic chemicals that will persist in the environment for decades. Dow's story is also about corporate power: of a company accustomed to getting its way and not above manipulating science, pushing aside safety, or spending millions in the courts and Congress to achieve its ends. Yet Trespass Against Us is also a hopeful story; an account of everyday moms and dads, Vietnam veterans and villagers, chemical workers and communities fighting back; of people standing up to power and seeking a better way. What they are saying is clear and unequivocal: no trespassing-no more invasive toxic chemicals.

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11/21/04  Precaution be damned

Look around you at the false choices or absurd premises proffered by Dow and government which conflict with public health protection. Precaution be damned!

bulletSuggesting "normal levels" of dioxin we should tolerate in our child's blood or in our homes while at the same time admitting no knowledge of a threshold level
bulletSuggesting that it's OK to live in a yard contaminated with dioxin just so long as you modify your behavior and those of your children
bulletTo do nothing in light of overwhelming scientific evidence of dioxins toxicity because we must negotiate with the polluter on what they will agree to
bulletSubmit to the polluter's hijacking of the clean up process and democracy if we want resolution to the problem
bulletTo initiate no significant public health interventions because industry says we need more studies/data
bulletChoosing to do nothing because they are paralyzed by politics/negotiations at all levels
bulletJobs or the environment

The public must reject these radically false choices, premises and notions. Just because we do not know the scientific certainty surrounding every last detail of Dow's dioxin contamination is no reason to do nothing!

Michelle Hurd Riddick,  Lone Tree Council

" … Just knowing enough is not of itself sufficient: acting wisely, and in good time, is also necessary."
-- European Environment Agency report, 2002

The above is an excerpt from the latest Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update, see next entry for the entire text.

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11/21/04 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

Last TRW meeting of the year on  Monday 11/22 6:30 pm Thomas Township Library

In this issue:

bulletYard Signs and the Campaign for a Clean Watershed
bulletDow Chemical's worker study, the devil is always in the details
bulletThe Precautionary Principle an once of prevention
bulletDow's Philantrophy in Saginaw County
bulletMichigan State University Data
bulletFrom Sue Roller Cameron in Zilwaukee Twp-Dioxin, the tie that  binds communities

Click here to view.  Past issues can be found on the TRW Info page.

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11/18/04 "Think about it", real experiences from real people living on the flood plain

To the Editor, the Saginaw News (appeared in print only, not published on-line by Saginaw News)
November 11, 2004

Recently I attended the funeral for my Freeland friend, Ron Wilkins who lost his battle with prostrate cancer.  Wilkins hiked, canoed, hunted, and ate the game taken from along the dioxin-laden Tittabawassee River flood plain.

Now the sad news is that another Freeland fried, Dr. Herbert J. Buchalter, has also died of cancer.  Doc "B" and his family have lived and engaged in recreational activities along the flood plain near the Midland-Saginaw County line for 37 years.

Only weeks ago he still struggled to his office in Midland to serve this under-insured and uninsured patients.  He was one of a few general practitioners in Midland who readily accepted and cared for this population.   The Buchalter household cooked with and drank only purified, filtered bottled water.

For the doubters continuing to live in harm's way, and choosing to remain oblivious to the poisonous environment that we are living in, all one can wish and hope is that your personal immune systems are strong enough to continue warding off the potential deadly effects of the dioxin exposure.

Every citizen has the inherent right to pursue a healthy life , and must insist that his or her elected officials enforce the laws that obligate corporations to operate in a safe and non-polluting manner.

Businesses must be required to follow rules and regulations that are meant to protect the citizenry from the corporate mad dash to profitability.  Noncompliance must lead to cancellation or denial of operating permits unit facilities are brought into compliance.

Stop and consider for a moment if the image and profits of a repeatedly self-serving corporation are more important than our lives and the health of all our children.  While your are at it, think about Ron Wilkins and Herb Buchalter - and hope and pray that your family's turn is not next.

Howard Steinmetz
Saginaw Township

TRW NOTE: Visit our Editorial page for other comments by the people who live here.

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11/15/04 Dr. Birnbaum, EPA dioxin expert  Freeland presentation canceled

The Department of Environmental Quality regrets to inform you that the Community Advisory Panel meeting scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on November 17 in Freeland has been canceled. Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum, the scheduled speaker at the event, is unfortunately in the hospital and will be unable to travel to Michigan in time for the meeting. Dr. Birnbaum, Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Experimental Toxicology Division in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, was to have provided information relating to dioxins and their health effects.

The meeting will be rescheduled at a later date. Please contact DEQ Press Secretary Patricia Spitzley at 517-241-7397 for more information.

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11/13/04 Better chemistry through lawsuits

Excerpts from an interesting article from The Environmental Law Institute concerning Dow's dioxin contamination of the Tittabawassee:

"There are two points about Dow’s dioxin. First, the exposure and contamination of humans to dioxin is the physical injury. The cancer or deformed baby is only the manifestation of the injury.   Dow is claiming that the exposed residents have to wait for the manifestation. Then when the manifestation occurs they will claim that the plaintiffs can’t prove that the specific disease was caused by dioxin.

The second point about Dow’s harm is that it is an injury to the state of Michigan,  not just a few private parties. The Tittabawassee river basin is contaminated. The land, the water, the people, the fish and wildlife are poisoned. Michigan is the trustee for the turkeys that hunters are warned against eating, for the waters that are no longer fishable, and for the public health of the human residents that has been compromised. Michigan should be bringing a state action against Dow and stand up to this unchecked power of a corporation to pollute, destroy an ecosystem, damage and  diminish the property and health of the humans and wildlife living within the state. Michigan should be bringing suit on behalf of those who have been exposed and the taxpayers who will ultimately have to pay the bill  — to restore the balance of power. "

Source: Carolyn Raffensperger,MA, JD,  Executive Director of the Science and Environmental Health Network in Ames, Iowa. She can be reached at raffenspergerc@cs.com.

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11/10/04 Dow releases it's own version of dioxin exposure study

"For one thing, the report notes that "exposed" Dow workers experienced "slight excesses" of prostate, stomach, lymphatic, blood and other types of cancers when compared to "unexposed" workers. Furthermore, the more workers were exposed, the more likely they were to die from stomach and prostate cancers.

The report also noted that, when Midland's two ZIP codes were analyzed separately, "higher-than-expected numbers of all cancers combined" were found in the ZIP code where Dow's chemical plant is located when compared to the entire state of Michigan for the years 1994 through 1998. "

The above is NOT yesterday's Dow Chemical Press Statement  about it's internal, non-peer reviewed, sound science worker study.   It's actually an excerpt from a 2002 newspaper article summarizing State and Federal health officials review of a  similar declaration by Dow that all is well in Midland back in 2001.  Please read this article, "The Shadow of Dow" 1st, then read the Dow press releases on our Newspaper page.  Note that the press releases where timed late in the day so as to not allow reporters a chance print a "fair and balanced" story before their deadlines.  What you will read is pure Dow spin. 

"Background" levels are NOT "normal" or "safe" levels.   Why does the "control" group have dioxin blood levels greater than 90% of background levels in other areas of the country?   Why does Midland have one of the highest incidents of diabetes in the country?   Why where certain prior studies data omitted?   Stay tuned, much more to come...

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11/09/04 Dr. Birnbaum, EPA dioxin expert to give presentation in Freeland

Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

The Department of Environmental Quality announces a Community Advisory Panel meeting that will be open to the general public on November 17 in Freeland.   Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum, Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Experimental Toxicology Division in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, will be the featured speaker. Her presentation will be on dioxins and their health effects.   Click here for more about Dr. Birnbaum.

The meeting will be held at the Freeland High School Auditorium, at 8250 Webster Road, Freeland, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m on November 17th

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11/08/04 EPA Dioxin reassessment report updated and sent to NAS.

The USEPA has updated the dioxin reassessment report and sent its most recent draft to the National Academy of Sciences for their review.  This draft is dated December 2003 and was sent to the NAS in October 2004.  The entire report has been updated including the sources section (Part I), the health effects section (Part II) and the risk characterization (Part III).  The complete updated draft report can be found at:   http://www.epa.gov/ncea/pdfs/dioxin/nas-review/  

The original report was released in draft form in 1991.  Since then, repeated reviews and delays introduced by the chemical industry have prevented release of the final report.  Click here for a detailed discussion of this process: Behind Closed Doors

This latest NAS review delay was put into place in October 2003.  The current administration is in the process of replacing key scientist with those having ties to the chemical industry. Once the deck is properly stacked in the EPA and NAS,  you can expect the results of the review.   

On a side note, Mr. Cherry (see below) is receiving the full treatment by Dow based upon their 15+ years of experience developing methods to manipulate Federal governments dioxin policy.   Recent events (i.e. the lack of them) indicate he has started to slide down the slippery slope.

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11/05/04 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

In refernce to Lt. Governor Cherry press release of 11/4/04:

Behind the formal framework of these "negotiation" is a serious breakdown in the civic process and public health protection. We can all agree there are times when private meetings are needed to address concerns of various interested groups or stakeholders. A cooling down period in June may have been needed but it is unacceptable for this closed process out of the public and media's view to continue into its fifth month.

Dow Chemical is not the only stakeholder in this process. People living in Dow's dioxin everyday of their lives deserve to be part of this process. Taxpayers supporting public parks and the citizens as the rightful owners of these natural resources are being denied, until after the fact, a place at the table. It is important how our government chooses to conduct our business. Divisive issues like the contamination of watershed belong in the public arena because they are about public health, resources and democracy.

The interim response activities (IRA's) , defined by law and required by Dow's license are intended to protect public health. Lansing needs to issue those IRAs or answer why they are not being released. The public health protections addressed by the IRAs have no business resting in limbo while these negotiations with the polluter go on and on and on and on.........

More later,

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

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11/04/04 Michigan / Dow cleanup talks stalled

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Heidi Hansen

November 4, 2004 517-335-6397

Statement from Lt. Governor John D. Cherry

on Progress of Talks with Dow Chemical Co.

LANSING – Lieutenant Governor John D. Cherry today released the following statement regarding the ongoing talks between the Granholm Administration and Dow Chemical Company to address the dioxin contamination in the Midland, Saginaw, and Tittabawassee River region:

"We continue to have productive talks with Dow, and have made progress toward an agreement, which is much more important than a deadline. We will continue to hold talks as long as progress is being made toward an outcome that all parties concur addresses the dioxin contamination. There will be no new deadline set as we move forward with our talks. We fully intend to keep the public informed of progress in these discussions, and any potential agreements reached through the discussions will be available for public review and comment before being finalized."

This is unacceptable.  Progress???  What the heck is Cherry talking about?   Absolutely nothing has been reported to the public from these secret meetings in over 5 months.  The MDEQ and MDCH staff has been muzzled once again.  Something sinister is at work here and it smells strongly of Dow.

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11/04/04 Midland dioxin in the 1980's, EPA and CDC studies and recommendations

Diane Hebert, a health care worker and grandmother, has spent over 25 years raising public awareness about the hazards of dioxin contamination and battling pollution issues, many of which are linked to the Dow Chemical Company.  In 2003 she received the Petoskey Prize for Environmental Leadership.

Below is an item of interest that Diane recently shared concerning EPA and CDC investigations of dioxin in Midland Michigan back in 1980's.  Evidently Dow & Midland where aware of the appropriate safe soil dioxin levels and possible adverse effects on it's citizens health.  It's now 20 years later, has Dow or Midland done anything to inform or protect it's citizens?  The excerpts are formatted as  received, contact Diane for more information.

Excerpts:

bulletIf EPA's exposure-risk assessment model is employed, a soil level of about 1 ppt 2,3,7,8-TCDD could give an upper limit 95% lifetime cancer risk of cancer of 10-5, using the most conservative exposure assumptions.  Using the least conservative exposure assumptions, a soil level of 100 ppt could also result in a cancer risk of 10-5 with the EPA model.
bulletRates of connective and soft tissue cancer among Midland women, have been statistically higher for over two decades. No other Michigan county and only 13 counties in the nation have had statistically significant rates for two successive decades, 1950-1979, where there have been two or more cases recorded per decade. Connective and soft tissue cancers have been associated with exposure to 2,3,7,8-TCDD. While exposure to 2,3,7,8-TCDD is yet to be determined in these cases, animal studies show that females exposed to 2,3,7,8-TCDD are more sensitive than males.
bulletEPA's Health Review division in 1979 conducted preliminary analysis of Midland birth defect data and believed that sufficient evidence existed to warrant a case control study of these birth defects in cooperation with the Michigan Department of Health and CDC, but the study was not initiated.
bulletCDC's analysis of DOW CHEMICAL'S REPRODUCTIVE STUDY of wives of Midland workers exposed to PCDD's REVEALED A RATE OF ORAL FACIAL CLEFTS TWICE THAT EXPECTED.
bulletThe use of the 1 ppb 2,3,7,8-TCDD safe/unsafe action level SHOULD BE ABANDONDED AND SUBSTITUTED WITH A GIVEN DEGREE OF CONTAMINATION AND EXPOSURE AS IS DONE WITH OTHER HAZARDOUS SUBSTANCES.

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11/01/04 Dow and State talks fail to meet deadline

The Detroit Free Press reports "A Halloween deadline set by state regulators to reach agreement with Dow Chemical Co. on how to address dioxin contamination in and near Midland has passed with no pact."

"State Department of Environmental Quality officials are publicly silent about the high-level negotiations that include Lt. Gov. John Cherry and top Dow officials. A statement on the talks may be made later this week, possibly Wednesday or Thursday, said DEQ spokesman Bob McCann. "

Click here to view the entire story and hundreds of others on our Newspaper/Media Page

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10/31/04 Dow and State fail to reach action plan agreement by deadline?

Rumor has it that the State and Dow failed to reach an agreement by the Halloween deadline.  Evidently the State will make an announcement on or after November 3rd,   AFTER the electionsCamp, Moolenaar, and Stamas must be relieved.

Back in September 2004, State officials set a deadline for an action plan on how to deal with dioxin contamination downstream and downwind of Dow's Midland plants.

"We are providing an end point to the discussion phase of this project and moving toward our goal of seeing actual results," said Lt. Gov. John D. Cherry. "My hope is that the deadline provides everyone involved with an incentive to aggressively work together to reach a consensus on the appropriate course for corrective action."    DEQ spokeswoman Patricia Spitzley said the parties plan to reach agreement by Sunday, Oct. 31.

These discussions went behind closed doors for thirty days in June, it's now almost November.  Dow has a legal and statutory obligation to address this contamination,   Dow's Hazardous Waste Management Facility License which went into effect in June 2003.  Stay tuned...

Click here to view the time line associated with this process, it all started back in May of 2004.

Another rumor floating around is that Dow has completed an internal  health study of some of it's employees.   Past experience indicates Dow will hold back such information and release it when it is to their political advantage.   This week might be such an opportunity.  When you see it, look for the peer review.  For an example of what to expect, read the Dow PR release concerning it's Wild Game Study and then read how the EPA and State agencies interpretreted the results.

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10/30/04 Dow fails to produce scientific evidence of claims.

David Linhardt, a former Dow Chemical Engineer, questions a recent quote by  Dr. Robert Budzinsky, a Dow toxicologist with expertise in dioxin exposure: "There is no scientific evidence that background levels like this pose any increased risk."

"I would like to ask Dr. Budzinsky to provide some information on the basis for his assurances. I have examined the large number of mortality and health studies that Dow has posted on its Dioxin Data website and I have found no information that correlates dioxin body burden levels with human health effects. To the best of my knowledge, Dow has never determined dioxin body burden levels in the 2,200 Midland plant employees who were potentially exposed to industrial dioxins. "

Mr. Linhardt made the comments in an editorial to the Midland Daily News 10/30/04.  Click here to read the entire article.  Visit the authors website, www.dioxinspin.com , for additional details of how Dow manipulates the data from their "Sound Science" to intentionally twist and distort the truth. 

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10/29/04 Game deemed unsafe near Tittabawassee

The Lansing State Journal reports:

"Consumers have been warned not to eat game hunted in the Tittabawassee River floodplain near Midland." ...
"A U.S Environmental Protection Agency report confirmed that dioxin can cause cancer and that exposure can also cause severe reproductive and developmental problems - at levels 100 times lower than those associated with its cancer-causing effects. Dioxin is also known to damage the immune system and interfere with hormonal systems." ...
"They concluded that eating deer or turkey that contain dioxin at the levels found in a Dow Chemical Co. study could harm humans." ...
"Community Health looked at the results given to us by Dow and issued the health advisory based on a human criteria," communications officer T.J. Bucholz said. "We ultimately determined they were harmful to humans." ...
"The Steinmetzes have had many illnesses. Howard, 71, has had two cancers - non-Hodgkins lymphoma and prostate cancer, which has recently returned - along with heart problems. Barbara, 67, has had endometriosis and had two-thirds of her stomach removed as a cancer precaution." ...
"The Steinmetzes' daughter, Ivy, has suffered nine failed fertilizations and now is determined to adopt a child, according to her parents."

Click here to view the entire story and hundreds of others on our Newspaper/Media Page

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10/27/04 Federal study backs EPA approach to dioxin mixtures.

The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences released a study Oct. 20 that found the pattern of cancer responses in a test group exposed to a mixture of dioxins, PCBs and furans could be predicted based on the pattern of responses by three groups exposed to each chemical in the mixture. The researchers conclude that EPA reliance on "toxic equivalency factors" (TEFs) in evaluating mixtures of dioxin, PCBs and furans is valid. "These data support the use of the TEF approach for dioxin cancer risk assessments," according to the study. ...

One EPA official says the study "blows a big hole in industry arguments about the reliability of our approach to dioxin mixtures and adds support to what we've been saying." The study was released just weeks before the NAS holds a public meeting on Nov. 22 to examine the scope of its upcoming review. The NAS was asked to conduct the study to help resolve interagency squabbling within the administration over EPA's dioxin risk review, which has been 15 years in the making. Click here for more.

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10/25/04 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

In this issue:

bulletPEI Blood and dust samples coming back (see results in 10/18 entry below)
bulletDioxin and Immune suppression
bulletDEQ / Dow witching hour is October 31st
bulletPublic Information Centers
bulletCampaign for a clean watershed

Click here to view.  Past issues can be found on the TRW Info page.

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10/18/04 Majority flood plain residents dioxin blood levels high

Click here for the unofficial Pilot Exposure Investigation (PEI) result page.  Based on what we are seeing, some pretty obvious conclusions can be drawn.  Until the ATSDR or MDCH releases a final summary for all the results, these will have to do. Click on the graph below for a larger view.

 wpeB.jpg (39708 bytes)

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10/17/04 Flood plain residents dioxin blood levels from PEI study high

The Midland Daily News reported the results of dioxin blood levels from some of the participants of the MDCH/MDEQ Pilot Exposure Investigation.  The majority reported seem to be in the 75th percentile with an alarming number in the 90th or even the 95 percentile.  In addition, some of those with high levels are suffering from diseases associated with dioxin exposure.

A reported level in the 95th percentile means that 95% of people in the general population have less dioxin in their blood than the participants for their age group.    The percentile rankings are derived  a CDC report  Age specific dioxin TEQ reference range which measured dioxin blood levels in four different areas of the country in non-contaminated areas. 

Midland Daily News: Results back from pilot study of dioxin exposure

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10/13/04 MDEQ approves plan to communicate risks of dioxin to residents

In a press release today, the MDEQ announced "a plan to help inform area residents of the risks of dioxin contamination in Midland and the Tittabawassee floodplain has been approved by the Department of Environmental Quality." ...

"Under Dow’s operating license with the state, the Communications IRA is part of the corrective action it must take to address the dioxin contamination in the region. The DEQ made several modifications to the work plan to be consistent with the operating license, which DEQ Director Steven E. Chester said is a step in the right direction." ...

"This plan will help the citizens of Midland and other regional communities stay informed about dioxins, and learn what they can do to reduce any potential exposure to themselves and their families," said Chester. "This is a positive step forward in efforts to address the issue, and keep the community healthy." ...

"The IRA takes immediate effect and includes a timetable for implementation of its various steps. The plan and cover letter can be viewed on the DEQ’s Web site at www.michigan.gov/deqdioxin then click on "Dow Off-site Corrective Action," and scroll down to "Approved Interim Response Activities (IRA) Under SOWs.""

Click here to view the press release in it's entirety.

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10/06/04 Michigan Supreme Court hears oral arguments on Medical Monitoring

Beautiful court building, interesting questions, interesting agendas, a very nervous lawyer from Dow, and quite a crowd of plaintiff's and their supporters in the gallery.  Now we just wait for the Court decision.  July 31, 2005 is their deadline, the people can only hope they will act as quickly as possible. Media coverage:  Detroit Free Press, Saginaw News, Midland Daily News

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10/01/04 Gov. Granholm veto's Dow Moolenaars bogus $800,000 tax payer funded study

Midland Daily News reports Governor Granhom used a line item veto to remove the $800,000  Michigan Tax payer  funded   bio-availability study proposed by Representative Moolenaar in behalf of his client, Dow Chemical.  This was a questionable, if not illegal appropriation to begin with. Nothing in law says that environmental bond money approved by voters is to be used for studies of contamination when a potentially liable party can be found. Not to mention the obligation of that party to the public.   This study would have been redundant as many studies in our area have already been completed or are in process.  In fact, the results of a Dow/MSU Ecological risk study started last year was due this spring, where are the results? Thank you Governor Granholm.

Senate - Senators McManus, Goschka, Barcia
House - Representatives Pastor, Moolenaar, Brown

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 authorizing language established in the CMI legislation back in 1997 states that if a responsible party exists that taxpayers will not be burdened with the cost.

(e) That the responsibility for the cost of response activities pertaining to a release or threat of release and repairing injury, destruction, or loss to natural resources caused by a release or threat of release should not be placed upon the public except when funds cannot be collected from, or a response activity cannot be undertaken by, a person liable under this part.

(f) That liability for response activities to address environmental contamination should be imposed upon those persons who are responsible for the environmental contamination.

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. 

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10/01/04 Too early to include Bay County in secret dioxin deal

Some in Bay County want to keep their County out of a secret deal between Dow and Lt. Governor Cherry until they know the extent of the dioxin contamination in their back yard.  We could not agree more.    The open and transparent process initiated by Granholm is at a standstill, the MDEQ CAP meetings have closed down, the Dow licensed approved and agreed to by Dow in 2003 may be re-written.  Depending upon the outcome, the proposed public comment period after the details for the deal are released on October 31, 2004 may become more than either party bargained for.   Many public officials and business leaders in Saginaw County are more interested in Dow money then the property, health, and quality of life of it's citizens.  This is a watershed problem and everyone should have input BEFORE the outcome is determined.

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bulletSee newspaper articles for information dating back to January 2002.  Click here
bulletFor additional archived information, click here
 

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