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TRW Archives 2005 2nd quarter 04/01/05 - 06/30/05

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6/29/05   Michigan House of "Shame" passes  Polluter Free Ride Ticket (bill 4617)

Only 29 Michigan state representatives voted today against a Dow Chemical Company-backed bill to conceal awareness of widespread dioxin contamination in the Saginaw River watershed.

Approved 77-29, the bill would require the state specifically to test any one of the thousands of property units in a large area like the downstream stretches of the Saginaw River before declaring it contaminated. The goal is to prevent DEQ from publicizing the truth about such gross contamination by tying it up in prohibitively expensive testing. This would also prevent prospective land buyers from knowing when they purchase contaminated parcels.

The 77 votes are a veto-proof margin, should the Governor choose to deep-six the bill.
The 29 "good" votes were cast by:

Stephen Adamini of Marquette, Glenn Anderson of Westland, Kathy Angerer of Dundee, Doug Bennett of Muskegon, Steven Bieda of Warren, Pam Byrnes of Dexter, Dianne Byrum of Onondaga, Brenda Clack of Flint, Paul Condino of Southfield, Marie Donigan of Royal Oak, Matt Gillard of Alpena, Lee Gonzales of Flint, Hoon-Yung Hopgood of Taylor, Herb Kehrl of Monroe, Chris Kolb of Ann Arbor, Kathleen Law of Gibralter, Lamar Lemmons Jr. of Detroit, Alexander Lipsey of Kalamazoo, Gary McDowell of Rudyard, Andy Meisner of Ferndale, Fred Miller of Mount Clemens, Clarence Phillips of Pontiac, Gino Polidori of Dearborn, Alma Wheeler Smith of Ypsilanti, Steve Tobocman of Detroit, Mary Waters of Detroit, Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, Carl Williams of Saginaw and Paula Zelenko of Burton.

Four representatives didn't vote:
Republican Jack Brandenburg of Harrison Township and Democrats Marsha Cheeks, Morris Hood III and Lamar Lemmons III, all of Detroit.

The rest have cast their lot with polluters.

---Even if the bill should pass in the Senate,  Michigan real-estate disclosure form requires the the seller to answer the following question:  "Are you aware of any substances, materials, or products that may be an
environmental hazard such as, but not limited to, asbestos, radon gas, formaldehyde, lead-based paint, fuel
or chemical storage tanks and
contaminated soil on the property?"  Be very careful how you answer this question.

--All of the jokers voting to pass this bill where aware of the following and made the decision to vote against the citizens of Michigan anyways: 

bulletThe bills would increase the cost of cleanup for both the state and other parties
bulletThe bills would slow progress in cleaning up contaminated sites
bulletThe bills would prevent many properties from being eligible for state and local financial incentives that support redevelopment.
bulletThe bills would prevent the state from undertaking investigation and cleanup actions on a “homestead” regardless of whether the homestead property owner wanted that work to be done.
bulletThe bills would prevent prospective purchasers and lessees of contaminated property from getting important information about the contamination through disclosure provisions of Part 201.
bullet“Due Care” obligations would no longer include compliance with land or resource use restrictions that were imposed on a property as part of a cleanup.
bulletUnless samples had been taken on a particular property to confirm contamination, or the owner of that property agreed to it being part of a facility in the absence of sampling, a liable party would not have an obligation to address contamination on that property.
bulletSome of the new language added to Section 20120a(2) by the bills is unnecessary. Other new language added to this section may not achieve the apparent objective.
bulletState budgetary implications
bulletImplications to Local Units of Government

For details, click here.


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6/24/05   Dredging can have a huge, positive impact on local economy

The presentation by James Hahnenberg, EPA Project Manager for the Fox River PCB cleanup, did an excellent job covering  viable river dredging techniques during his June 22 talk at Delta College. 

One item of interest dealt with the economic benefits to local communities when a river is dredged to remove toxic wastes.  Communities which have gone through the process have experienced over $800,000,000 due to factors such as:

bulletCleanup-related jobs (short term and LONG TERM)
bulletCleanup-related businesses (existing and new companies)
bulletIncrease in property values
bulletIncrease in tax basis for local & state government
bulletHealth benefits
bulletRecreation improvements and tourism
bulletRedevelopment of contaminated land and water.
bulletLower navigation dredging costs and/or increased commercial use.

A few examples (excerpts from EPA presentation and handouts at 6/22/05 meeting).  Click on the project title in the table below for more information.  The last column is the of sum of items mentioned and is not necessarily the total impact on a community.

Cleanup Project Short-Term Jobs Permanent Jobs Property Value Increase Annual State Taxes Total short & long-term Impact
Ft. Devens, MA 235/$6 million 2500/$70 million $2 million $7 million $85 million
Industria-Plex, MA 700/$22 million 4300/$142 million $4.6 million $14 million $183 million
Raymark Ind, CT 1200/$32.5 million 800/13.2 million $4.2 million $1 million $60 million
Old Works, MT 42/$1.2 million 20/$0.5 million $0.4 million $0.1 million $2.3 million
Denver Radium, CO 145/$3.7 million $113/$1.9 million $67 million $0.1 million $72.7 million
Chisman Creek, VA 90/$2.1 million -- $0.6 million Park Fees $2.7 million
Waukegan Harbor, IL -- -- $211 million -- 830 million

Click here for an excellent paper prepared by The Northeast-Midwest Institute & The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration.  This 252 page report goes into the details of how such economic benefits are calculated (many of the project site links in the table above also describe calculations methods).

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6/21/05   EPA expert to speak at Delta on river cleanup solutions June 22

A Midland native, James Hahnenberg, Project Manager
 for the EPA’s Fox River and Green Bay PCB cleanup, will
come to the Delta College Lecture Theater on June 22,
6:30 p.m. with a presentation "Viable Solutions for Our Rivers."

bulletSpeaker Series poster, please print and post
bullet Lone Tree Council / TRW Update
bullet06/14/050Midland Daily News article on presentation
bulletFor more information about the Fox River PCB co ntamination
and their cleanup efforts, visit the web site www.foxriverwatch.com

 

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6/20/05   Plaintiffs file motion in Michigan Supreme Court

Plaintiffs request that the Michigan Supreme Court lift the stay of discovery and of the class certification proceedings for the proposed property-owner class.  Details on Court Activity Page, click here.

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6/19/05   New research: Toxic hormone disruptors effects can be inherited

"New research shows that the environment is more important to health than anyone had imagined. Recent information indicates that toxic effects on health can be inherited by children and grandchildren even when there are no genetic mutations involved. These inherited changes are caused by subtle chemical influences, and this new field of scientific inquiry is called "epigenetics."" RACHEL'S ENVIRONMENT & HEALTH NEWS #819, June 9, 2005.

bulletClick here for the Rachel entire article or visit their website  http://www.rachel.org.
bulletClick here for 9 articles about epigenetics from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times,  New Scientist, Washington State University News Service, Forbes, Times Magazine, and the Seattle Post - Intelligencer.
bulletExcerpt from Skinner Study:
"The transient exposure of a pregnant female at the time of embryonic sex determination to an environmental toxin (endocrine disruptor) can induce an epigenetic transgenerational disease phenotype in all subsequent generations. This has a significant impact on our understanding of factors that influence human disease and the basic concepts of evolutionary biology." Matthew D. Anway, Andrea S. Cupp, Mehmet Uzumcu, and Michael K. Skinner, Science 3 June 2005; 308: 1466-1469 [DOI: 10.1126/science.1108190
bulletClick here for a copy of the studies abstract or visit their website http://www.skinner.wsu.edu.
bulletVisit our "Is dioxin dangerous" page for more information, click here

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6/14/05
  MDEQ/Dow announce 'CAP' meeting

The MDEQ announced a one time resumption of the Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP) on June 28, 2005.  Evidently the focus will be on how to communicate with all the stakeholders. AGAIN!

According to the Dow/MDEQ documents below, they are proposing the CAP be replaced with the Community Advisory Committee (CAC).  We have been discussing how to communicate since the first CAP meeting in July 2003.  Dow, the MDEQ, any many other's from the community where involved in the original CAP meetings.  The meetings, which had been making substantial progress in providing information to the community, where suspended in May of 2004 by Governor Granholm to work out a behind closed doors deal with Dow.  The CAP meetings where regularly announced on TV, radio, and in the newspapers.  Visit this sites Newspaper/Media page and the CAP page for a through coverage of the meetings and their announcements.  Evidently a  handful of local citizens say they never knew about CAP.  We suggest flying the Goodyear blimp over Freeland with announcements to get their attention this time around. 

Dow has been successful in adding another 2+ years to the cleanup by bringing us back to square one.  Why?  They have no intention of allowing this process to proceed in anyway that requires Dow to be accountable for it's acts.  If they really care about the future of our community, these meetings will progress quickly to the to the real substance of the matter, cleaning up the river! 

bullet Dow/MDEQ proposed ongoing community involvement process
bullet Dow/MDEQ summary of insights from the convening meetings

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6/04/05   Dioxin levels 99x State RDCC found in Freeland Festival Park

Secret Dow sampling reports reveals:

bullet100% of the 16 samples from the Tittabawassee floodplain down stream of the Dow plant have dioxin levels exceeding the States 90 ppt RDCC (Residential Direct Contact Criteria)
bullet75% of the 16 samples from the Tittabawassee floodplain down stream of the Dow plant have dioxin levels exceeding the ATSDR 1000 ppt  TEQ Action level
bulletA Freeland Festival Park sample of 8920 ppt TEQ is almost 2.5 time higher than previous samples taken in 2003.  It's 99 times higher than the States 90 ppt TEQ RDCC and 8.9 times higher than the ATSDR action level.  This park now has the dubious honor of having the highest level of soil dioxin (that have been released to the public) found in the flood plain since the problem was exposed in 2002.
bullet3,867 ppt at Tittabawassee Twp Park
bulletFour samples taken at Imerman Park ranged from 2,157 ppt to 4,230 ppt.
bulletClick here to view all the details posted on our "How Much" page.
bullet Click here to view MDEQ letter to Dow requesting information after catching them in the act of secret sampling, a direct violation of Dow's Hazardous Waste Management License.
bulletComment from Michelle Hurd Riddick of the Lone Tree Council: These results are consistent with Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 of sampling done by DEQ over the past three years. The conclusion has not changed. Dioxin is pervasive at high levels the entire length of the river. Dioxin will continue to move and be redistributed along this dynamic mobile river system. As it moves it will continue to be deposited and re-deposited in peoples' yards, homes, public parks and communities. Dioxin will continue to find its way into wildlife, fish and peoples' bodies. It will continue to migrate to the Saginaw River and to Lake Huron.

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6/03/05   Lone Tree/TRW Dioxin Update

Excerpts from this issue

bulletDow dioxin tests upset state
bullet Access Dow secret testing results on the MDEQ web site, click here
bulletBill No. 4617 "Homeowner Fairness Act"
bullet In a previous MDN article Rep. Moolenaar stated that residents along the river would be given the chance to speak ahead of " special interest groups". Indeed he made sure the supporters of HB 4617 were allowed to speak including the "special interest" voice of the Home Builders Association and Midland Tomorrow. Yet Betty Damore, a floodplain resident was not permitted to speak in opposition to this legislation. As a rule the committee chair alternates between those supporting and those opposing a piece of legislation before the committee. Not this time.
bullet Letter from flood plain residents to be read by Betty Damore, committee refused to hear.
bullet Comments from Paul Damore, flood plain resident who was denied opportunity to speak.
bullet Comments from Terry Miller, Lone Tree Council, who was denied opportunity to speak
bulletSoil advisory & Fish/Game Consumption advisory signs on the way
bulletGet your "Dow Clean Up Your Dioxin" signs

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5/25/05  MDEQ releases analysis of HB 4617 - a must read for everyone in Michigan

bulletThe bills would increase the cost of cleanup for both the state and other parties
bulletThe bills would slow progress in cleaning up contaminated sites
bulletThe bills would prevent many properties from being eligible for state and local financial incentives that support redevelopment.
bulletThe bills would prevent the state from undertaking investigation and cleanup actions on a “homestead” regardless of whether the homestead property owner wanted that work to be done.
bulletThe bills would prevent prospective purchasers and lessees of contaminated property from getting important information about the contamination through disclosure provisions of Part 201.
bullet“Due Care” obligations would no longer include compliance with land or resource use restrictions that were imposed on a property as part of a cleanup.
bulletUnless samples had been taken on a particular property to confirm contamination, or the owner of that property agreed to it being part of a facility in the absence of sampling, a liable party would not have an obligation to address contamination on that property.
bulletSome of the new language added to Section 20120a(2) by the bills is unnecessary. Other new language added to this section may not achieve the apparent objective.
bulletState budgetary implications
bulletImplications to Local Units of Government

Click here to view the entire document which includes justifications and examples for all of the above.

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5/24/05  Residents not allowed to speak at HB 4617 Facility "hearing"

The majority of residents showing up at today's hearing in Lansing were not allowed to speak. With the exception of the MDEQ,  Dow supporters were allowed by the committee to monopolized the entire 90 minute session.  

The following is a copy of the letter our representative intended to read to the committee (copies emailed to all):

Committee members:
Leon Drolet (R), Committee Chair, 33rd District
Jacob Hoogendyk (R), Majority Vice-Chair, 61st District
Robert Gosselin (R), 41st District
John Garfield (R), 45th District
Fulton Sheen (R), 88th District
Steve Tobocman (D), Minority Vice-Chair, 12th District
Alexander Lipsey (D), 60th District
LaMar Lemmons III (D), 3rd District

---

Michigan House Government Operations Committee
May 24th 2005

Dear Chairman Drolet and members of the committee:

I am here today on behalf of many of my neighbors living in the contaminated floodplain of the Tittabawassee River in Saginaw County.

We oppose HB 4617 and the removal of the “facility designation” label for residential properties contaminated with toxic compounds.

In our situation, our yards and homes are contaminated with dioxin, often referred to as "the most toxic substance ever known". It has been proven that Dow Chemical in Midland is the responsible party for this extensive contamination. Levels of dioxin of up to 7200 parts per trillion have been found in the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River, where safe residential contact by the state has been set at 90 ppt. It is our contention that this legislation is being done for the benefit of Dow Chemical and residents in Midland, who care little or nothing about the contamination of the down river communities.

The facility designation in this instance, defines a geographic area which under Dow’s license is subject to interim response, remedial investigation and cleanup. We believe HB 4617 is designed to make it difficult for the State of Michigan to: 1. enforce Dow Chemical's license 2. Access property 3. Protect public health and resources 4. Delay cleanup.

In addition, it buys into ever increasing efforts to blur and confuse the issue thereby creating additional delays.

While we understand the impact of facility designation on property values, it is our belief that the real impact comes from the presence of Dow’s dioxin contaminating our property, parks and communities. We are much more concerned about the dioxin on our property and in our community then we are about being labeled a facility. This is compounded by the failure, year after year, of the state to deal with this issue in a timely manner. This issue has become more about politics than about science and public health protection.

We do not oppose the use of facility designation because this label will ultimately be instrumental in restoring our yards to a safe environment. Soil sampling by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has demonstrated consistent and pervasive high levels of dioxin the entire length of the Tittabawassee River and floodplain. The dynamic movement of this river and its frequent flooding constantly deposits contaminated sediments from the river, its banks and people’s yards to new locations. Therefore, is it really necessary that every single property be tested to confirm that it is contaminated? The DEQ has collected data from three rounds of sampling, and though more is needed, we are confident in their ( DEQ) assessment that frequently flooded areas of the floodplain are contaminated and warrant being a facility subject to corrective action in accordance with the laws of Michigan and Dow’s license.

The floodplain we call home is so contaminated that the Michigan Department of Community Health, MDEQ, MDNR , Michigan Department of Agriculture and most recently the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issued a consumption advisory for wild game along the Tittabawassee River and floodplain. This is only the second such advisory in the state’s history. Dow’s dioxin is hurting our property values, economic development, tourism and ability to raise our families in a safe environment. You need to know indoor sampling has found dioxin in excess of 90ppt in the house dust of our family rooms and living spaces.

The facility designation is appropriate because it would require Dow Chemical to take actions along the entire river to mitigate exposure to their dioxin and to eventually give us back the unrestricted use of our property and our homes.

Dioxin moves freely along this dynamic river system. Without the facility status for this area, contaminated soils will be transported and re-distributed over and over along the river. After last years flooding event depositional sampling showed areas contaminated anywhere from 500 to 2,000ppt; some in the parks some samples were in parking lots. This legislation does nothing to assist in getting a handle on cleanup let alone interim response activities.

HB 4617 is an attempt to give Dow Chemical what they could not achieve in the 2002 consent order where they would have no responsibility for their contamination down river. You need to know that Dow signed their corrective action license in June of 2003. Dow did not contest the license or the use of the “facility” designation and neither did Mr. Moolenaar. Why now? Why two years later?

Representative Moolenaar has a history of doing Dow’s bidding. Last year, commensurate with their license Dow was to begin soil sampling for dioxin in Midland. Something Dow did not want to do, nor did the City Fathers of Midland. A huge town hall meeting attacking the DEQ was orchestrated by economic groups in Midland. Representative Moolenaar accused the DEQ of being out of control but we believe the DEQ is doing its job and enforcing the law. Last year in an attempt to stop the testing in Midland, Mr. Moolenaar threatened to eliminate the hazardous waste division of the DEQ, gut their budget, stop all dioxin testing in the state and raise the standard from 90 ppt to 1,000ppt. Worth noting is that there are no residential areas in Midland that are known to exceed 1000ppt. HB 4617 is “designer” legislation intended to make the dioxin contamination go away with the sweep of a pen. This legislative detoxification is an injustice to every living thing in the watershed and disrespectful to the hard working homeowners whose lives have been turned upside down by Dow Chemical.

How did Dow Chemicals' contamination of a watershed get twisted into being the fault of the DEQ for enforcing laws already in existence to protect the environment and hold the responsibility party accountable?

The facility label is not an unfair label to property owners. If anything, this committee should be holding hearings on how Dow should be cleaning up their contamination, not on how to try and legislate the problem away. Our entire river community is contaminated with Dow’s dioxin, we have all kinds of restrictions on the use of our property, not because of the facility designation but because it’s contaminated. The presences of dioxin on our property constitute a “takings” by Dow. We cannot use our properties as we choose or intended at the time of purchase.

In closing it is our contention that:

This bill jeopardizes public health by encouraging the sale of contaminated property to unknowing buyers. This is not ethical or moral

This bill prevents the MDEQ from protecting public health by prohibiting access to properties

This bill violates the Michigan Constitution Article IV sec. 52 that requires you, the legislature to protect the natural resources of “ this state from pollution impairment and destruction”

The only way to protect property rights in Michigan is to require the responsible party to cleanup contamination.

There should be no special rules for dioxin as defined in this bill. ( page 18 line 25 and page 24 line 19)

This legislation will increase the cost of the testing. Blur the lines of cleanup and further delay resolution of this dioxin contamination of Michigan’s largest watershed.

The use of an exposure investigation (page 19 lines 1) further treats dioxin differently. We do not rely on exposure investigations to protect children from mercury, lead or arsenic. Why would you do this for dioxin?

This “ designer legislation” with all its trappings lays the blame for devalued property on the phrase” facility designation” when the real culprit is dioxin.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. We would also like to extend an invitation to any of you to come visit our yards and our homes.

Gary Henry
Kathy Henry
John Taylor
Gloria Taylor
Amy Taylor
Jim Brasseur
Joy Brasseur
Marcia Woodman
Vito Damore
Betty Damore
Paul Damore
Richard Stimpson
Marti Stimpson
Greg Whitney
Mary Whitney
Shaun Whitney
Howard Steinmetz
Barb Steinmetz
Bill Hard
Jan Hard
Roz Berlin
Carol Chisholm
Russell Kubik
Laura Burtt
Kim Ortman
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5/22/05 MDEQ/Dow framework focus group meeting notes released

First, our view on the whole framework process (click here to view the entire response):

One of the redundant and less than clear activities that came out of the closed door meetings between Dow and DEQ are the series of "Focus Group" meetings being held by the regulator and the polluter around the Tri-city area. These focus groups are being convened purportedly to "discuss how we can best inform and involve the broader community in the future", and to entertain questions about the Framework. To that end, Dow and DEQ, created an invitation list, shared their lists with each other and decided who from the public would be invited to these "Focus Groups".  ...

In March of 2003 DEQ held "focus groups" in an attempt to identify the stakeholders in the Dow Chemical dioxin contamination of our watershed. It was part of what the DEQ called the Tri-county Coordination Plan.

In response to this plan DEQ created the DEQ Community Advisory. This DEQ CAP was made up of a diverse group of people: Dow, Lone Tree council, citizens, DEQ, elected officials, representatives of township, city, state and county governments , media, local health departments, conservation groups, county and twp parks, business, Chamber of Commerce, farmers....... We met from July 2003 until May 2004 in an advisory capacity to DEQ before we were suspended by the Governor while the state met behind closed doors with Dow to formulate policy more palatable to Dow. ...

Three years since this contamination was discovered and the agenda is searching for stakeholders and messaging. How sorry is that?

MDEQ/Dow Framework Focus Group Notes:

bullet Tittabawassee Dioxin Community 03/17/05
bullet Midland Dioxin Community 04/06/05
bullet TV 5 attempts to film meeting and is booted out by Dow thugs
bullet Saginaw Dioxin Community Notes 04/07/05
bullet TV 5 & others film meeting, non-stake holders allowed to comment
bullet Shaheen offers to buy tainted properties 04/07/05
bullet Property owners still waiting for Shaheen to make good on offer 5/12/05
bullet Bay City Dioxin Community Notes 04/14/05
bullet The MDEQ/Dow Framework agreement

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5/20/05 TRW meeting will not be held in May

There will be no TRW meeting in the month of May, the Thomas Township Library will be hosting it's annual book sale and the room is not available.  Next meeting June 27.

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5/18/05 Suit filed to force proper dredge plan for Saginaw River

Last week The National Wildlife Federation ( www.nwf.org) and Lone Tree Council filed a contested case before an administrative law judge in Lansing challenging the DEQ issuance of a water discharge permit for the dredge disposal facility in Zilwaukee Twp. These dredged sediments from the Saginaw River are highly contaminated with Dow's dioxin as well as mercury and PCB's. It is our position that the permit issued (401) by DEQ is in violation of the CWA because it will permit unlimited discharge of highly contaminated water off of this site back into the Saginaw River and Bay of Lake Huron. Lone Tree Council and NWF support the navigational dredging of the Saginaw River but it is imperative for long term environmental and economic benefit that it be done correctly.
Regards,
Michelle Hurd Riddick

 

Discharge Permit for Dredging Facility Violates
Clean Water Act, Organizations Assert in Lawsuit


National Wildlife Federation, Lone Tree Council Challenge Permit Allowing
For the Discharge of Toxic Dioxin, Mercury and PCBs into Saginaw River

ANN ARBOR, MI (May 18)–Conservation organizations asked an administrative law judge to nullify a permit that would allow toxic pollutants including dioxin, mercury and PCBs to be discharged into the Saginaw River.

The National Wildlife Federation and Lone Tree Council are challenging as illegal under the Clean Water Act a permit issued by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that authorizes the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discharge toxic pollutants from a dredged material disposal facility into the Saginaw River at concentrations higher than allowed for the Great Lakes.

“The state of Michigan failed to require limits on toxic pollutants as mandated by law to protect the quality and safety of Great Lakes water,” said Neil Kagan, senior counsel for National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes office. “Under the permit approved by the state, the contamination of the Saginaw River will be perpetuated, and this is not acceptable.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers applied for the permit as part of its effort to dredge the Saginaw River to accommodate commercial navigation. The Corps intends to build a dredged material disposal facility in Zilwaukee Township, Saginaw County. The facility will discharge effluent containing toxic pollutants into the Saginaw River.

“We support the dredging of the Saginaw River for commercial navigation,” said Michelle Hurd Riddick of the Lone Tree Council. “However, we remain very concerned about the tradeoffs in terms of public health, resource protection and environmental impacts associated with this site. The Saginaw Bay Watershed has already been identified as one of the most-polluted in the region. We need policies that restore this vital system, not exacerbate its condition.”
For Immediate Release: May 18, 2005

Contact: Neil Kagan, National Wildlife Federation – (734) 769-3351 x38
Michelle Hurd Riddick, Lone Tree Council – (989) 799-3313
Jordan Lubetkin, National Wildlife Federation – (734) 904-1589
 

 

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5/16/05 Granhlom approves funds to create river dredge spoils quagmire

Granholm Press Release on Saginaw River Dredge Project

Saginaw News coverage

Lone Tree Council response

While Lone Tree Council is in full support of the dredging of the Saginaw
River we remain very concerned about the tradeoffs in terms of public health,
resource protection and environmental impacts associated with this site and
the actually dredging.

We should applaud economic development but his site is one more very
negative impact on an already burdened eco-system. The Saginaw Bay Watershed has
been an AOC ( Area of Concern) for decades in part because of the lack of vision
and long term planning on the part of policy makers and elected officials.
It has been suggested by a handful in the regulatory community, that as
proposed, this dredge spoils site will be a superfund site in years to come due
to the high levels of Dow's dioxin in the sediments of the dredged portion of
the Saginaw River.

This site and the actual dredging are being done low tech and on the cheap
(the latter admitted to by the USACOE) while the responsible party, Dow
Chemical is allowed to skate. In fact I would submit that given the amount of land
slated for eminent domain takings , that Dow will also be using this site
in the future as a repository for dioxin laden soils along the Tittabawassee
River. The actually dredging and movement of ships has tremendous potential to
disperse sediments further down river to Lake Huron. EPA, National Wildlife
Federation and USFWS have all leveled a number of concerns that seemed to
fall on deaf ears.

This site remains an unlined dioxin laden slurry pit in the floodplain of
the Saginaw River whose permit process has always been second place to
political expediency. Three cheers for jobs----- but the party will be short lived
when the environmental impacts and further degradation of natural resources
becomes a reality.

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council

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5/10/05 Final MDCH Dow Wild Game Study report released & endorsed by ATSDR

Click here to view the entire report (pdf).  Note: DLC is acronym for "Dioxin Like Compounds"

Conclusions
Consumption of DLCs found in the liver of white tailed deer and in turkey meat, with and
without the skin, harvested from the flood plain area of the Tittabawassee River downstream of
Midland presents a public health hazard. Eating these wild game meats would result in an
estimated intake of DLCs that exceeds health benchmarks established by the ATSDR, the WHO,
and EPA. Estimated cancer risks associated with eating these contaminated wild game were
greater than 1 additional cancer in 10,000 exposed people.

Consumption of DLCs found in the muscle meat of deer and squirrel harvested from the flood
plain area of the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland presents a potential public health
hazard to women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15. A public health hazard
may be present if women and children consume large amounts of these wild game meats.
The levels of DLCs in game samples taken downstream of Midland were higher than the same
game species harvested upstream of Midland. All the species tested in the Dow wild game study
are herbivorous, so they are unlikely being exposed to DLCs through the food chain. Deer,10
turkey, and squirrel may be ingesting contaminated soil and sediments during feeding or
grooming activities.

Recommendations
• No one should eat the liver of while tail deer or turkey meat taken from the flood plain of the
Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland.
• Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should limit their consumption
of deer and squirrel muscle meat to one meal per week.
• Given the levels of DLCs found in deer liver, no one should eat organ meats from other game
species taken from this area.
• Hunters and their families should choose lean wild game meats. DLCs accumulate in fatty
tissues and trimming excess fat before cooking will lessen exposure.
• Additional studies of other wild game species in the Tittabawassee River flood plain (e.g.,
goose, duck) and other potentially affected areas downstream of the Tittabawassee should be
considered.

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5/08/05 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

Many conflicts between Dow Hazardous Waste Facility License and Dow/DEQ Framework, click here

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5/06/05 ATSDR agrees with State Wild Game Advisory

An article in today's Midland Daily News indicates the ATSDR agrees with the State of Michigan's Tittabawassee Flood Plain Wild Game Consumption advisory.  The advisory is only the 2nd one issued in the states history.

"Consumption of  deer meat and squirrel meat from contaminated areas should be limited, and that deer liver and turkey not be eaten at all". 

"Muscle meat should be limited, particularly by women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15. "

The article eludes to a mysterious posting dated April 29 on the states web site that has since been removed.  

For details of the original study conducted in 2003 click here.

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5/06/05 The Egg Report: Local egg dioxin contamination among the worst in the world

Contamination of chicken eggs from 17 countries by dioxins, PCBs and hexachlorobenzene

A new study released in April 2005 provides evidence of dioxin's  bioavailability.  The eggs from a residents Tittabawassee River free range chickens are included in the data, the local information starts on page 36 of the report.  Click here to view (large pdf file).

Our interpretation of the data indicate that the dioxin levels in eggs from the Tittabawassee floodplain exceed most of those from the 16 other countries sampled.  Compare results from other countries starting on page 21 to those of the Tittabawassee on page 37.   Eggs from free range chickens in a local residents yard are being compared to areas such as the one pictured below in Russia. 

"Chicken eggs were chosen for the study because they are a common food item and their fat content makes them appropriate for monitoring fat-soluble chemical pollutants such as U-POPs. Eggs are also a powerful symbol of new life. The study focused on backyard and free-range hens because they eat worms, insects, and other small organisms making their eggs a useful bio-indicator of food and environmental contamination." ....

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5/06/05 New websites of interest

    MDN-Rejected -"M. D. N. - Rejected" is being published to give a voice to those that wish to speak "... without fear or favor ..."  Readers are encouraged to submit comments and guest editorials.  Two editorial criteria – accurate information and  unlikely to be published by the Midland Daily News.  The site also contains corrections to a local's residents misinformation campaign.  The publisher is also the web master of  www.dioxinspin.com site.

     My Home Town - Dows pollution: Dioxin poisoning of the Tittabawassee River

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5/05/05 Chester and Harding duke it out;  Talk is cheap.

The Michigan Environmental Council has published interviews of Steven Chester and Russell Harding, the current and former Directors of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality respectively.

Click here to view the article (or here if the link become broken).   On the surface, Mr. Chester's responses sound much more in line with protecting public health than the Dow/Engler stooge Harding.   However, dig a little deeper and you will the Granholm/Cherry/Chester sponsored Dow/DEQ Framework deal.   A Midland resident has a different perspective of the former and current administrations cozy relationship with Dow, click here and see it you can find the F word.

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4/19/05 Lone Tree/TRW Dioxin Update

Excerpts from this issue:

bulletDr. Linda Birnbaum's presentation April 13, 2005 at Swan Valley High School
bullet application of animal studies to humans is most appropriate, that we too are animals
serum dioxin levels are decreasing in the population and if we want them to keep coming down we need to clean them up and stop them from recycling in the environment
bullet dioxin is toxic across all species, tissues and organs
bullet it is impossible to ascertain dioxin as the cause of one individuals cancer --we need to look at population shifts in disease
bullet dioxin are a carcinogen, causes a wide variety of non-cancer effects, developing fetus and children may be most susceptible
bullet the current background levels found in all us are at or near levels where dioxin effects may occur
bullet regulations to control dioxin emissions are working
bulletResearchers conclude that EPA reliance on "toxic equivalency factors" (TEFs) in evaluating mixtures of dioxin, PCBs and furans is valid.
bullet Calling something theoretical like the use of TEF's or hypothetical like the use of the state's 90ppt standard is a baseless attempt to discredit science because you don't agree with it or you don't like the end results of its application, i.e. cleanup, decrease property values, park impairment
bulletDioxin degradation in sunlight
bullet Estimates of the half-life of TCDD on the soil surface range from 9 to 15 years, whereas the half-life in subsurface soil may range from 25 to 100 years (Paustenbach et al. 1992).
bulletDEQ / Dow Focus group meetings
bullet Under what authority does the DEQ arbitrarily use 1,000ppt for cleanup since it clearly is not found in Michigan law? State law says the standard protective of public health is 90ppt. DEQ defended the use of 90 ppt until the closed door negotiations with Dow. What happened?

Click here to view the entire newsletter

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4/19/05 EPA finds breast cancer link from dioxin
 
EPA research on three high-profile pollutants -- dioxin, atrazine and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) -- suggests a link to the trend of early puberty among U.S. girls, and one agency scientist involved in the studies says the findings may also shed light on breast cancer risk factors.

The findings could result in the compounds being given a high priority in the agency’s Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP), for which the agency is still developing a research strategy. In the studies, carried out by the Office of Research and Development (ORD), female mice subjected to prenatal exposure to each of the substances demonstrated an effect on mammary gland development, said ORD researcher Suzanne Fenton in a presentation of the findings at the Society of Toxicology’s annual meeting March 7.


Source: Superfund Report via InsideEPA.com
Date: March 28, 2005
Issue: Vol. 19, No. 7
Inside Washington Publishers


Click here to view entire article

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4/19/05 Federal Study Backs Controversial EPA Approach To Dioxin Mixtures

EPA scientists say a major new federally funded study on dioxin and
related compounds confirms the agency's risk assessment approach to
mixtures of the chemicals and provides a boost to its controversial
dioxin report just as the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is beginning a
critical review of the document.


Click her to view

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4/18/05 Newsletter for Flood Plain Priority 1 residents - NOT FROM DOW

  Visit www.dioxinspin.com or click here for the newsletter

                      

 

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4/14/05 Dr Linda Birnbaum: Science Vs Conjecture

Dr. Linda Birnbaum’s presentation last night was enlightening to many of 150-200 attendees on both sides of the issue. Overall, the presentation was very useful and we appreciate her efforts to update our community on the latest in dioxin science. However, a portion of the presentation deviated from science and moved into the realm of speculation, adding more questions than answers to an extremely complicated contamination issue.

She confirmed that epidemiological studies of numerous human populations provide the evidence of adverse human effects of dioxin. These effects have been documented in groups (cohorts) ranging from the general population to highly exposed and everywhere in between. Health effects include, but are not limited to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemaia, hormone disruption, cancer, immune suppression. endometriosis, decreased testosterone, chloracne. Prenatal exposure can lead to developmental problems with the thyroid status, immune status, neurobehavior, cognition, dentition, reproductive effects, altered sex ration and delayed breast development. In other words, the toxicity of dioxin is not in question, it’s a fact based on peer reviewed scientific studies from around the world.

For the most part, Dr. Birnbaum was extremely careful to limit her discussion to her area of expertise as a toxicologist. When asked to provide guidance in areas outside her expertise related to regulation, cleanup, and/or exposure pathways, she did what a good scientist should, cite facts or decline to comment.

However, a major discrepancy developed soon after stating “Dioxin is well absorbed by the GI tract and lungs”. When pressed to comment on whether soil levels of dioxin in our area contribute to our dioxin body burdens, Dr. Birnbaum responded by saying she was not an expert in that field but proceeded to speculate “If I had to put money on it, it’s probably unlikely that your are much more highly exposed than your neighbors who aren’t living in the flood plain.” She followed this statement with the caveat that future studies may prove her wrong.

Unfortunately for the general public, the news media & Dow supporters picked this tidbit of conjecture as the main topic of their coverage, doing the community a further disservice. Perhaps they should give the concept of “Sound Science” something more than lip service.

From the layman’s perspective, ”absorbed by the GI tract and lungs” means that if you breathe or eat it, you absorb it. Flood plain residents are breathing the dust of the contaminated soil and tracking it into our homes 24x7. Has she seen the freshly deposited soil in our yards & vegetation after every flood? Has she driven a lawnmower in the flood plain? Has she seen the dust clouds blowing around after a dry spell? Has she seen our Fish and Wild Game advisories? Why are we told to wear face dust masks when working in our yards, avoid having children play in the soils, and leave clothing worn when working in the yard outside the house? How are we to believe that our soil, flora, and fauna do not contribute to our dioxin body burden beyond that of the general population?

Dr. Birnbaum was unaware of last years MDCH PEI study whose unofficial, preliminary results indicate a large portion of residents tested are accumulating dioxin blood levels much higher than nation averages. In fact, over 60% of the results shared with TRW exceed the 75th percentile and over 60% exceed the top end of the range for people 40-59 years old shown on Dr. Birnbaum’s slide titled “Mean and Range of TEQ’s by Age Group”. Note we are still waiting for the official PEI’s final report. If it should ever be published, these values may change, either up or down.

Dr. Birnbaum stated she is a member of the scientific advisory board for the University of Missouri bioavailabilty study being conducted by Dow. She stated past studies have shown dioxin bioavailablity from soil ranging from 1% to 100% depending upon the makeup of the soil. 100%??? And yet she speculates we do not have any additional exposure from living in the flood plain.

She also stated her concern that the bioavailability study may not be using the right types of soils to represent those found in the Tittabawassee Flood plain. Suggestion: If she is on the advisory board, why not demand the study protocol be adjusted accordingly? Her tone of voice indicated to me that she is dismissing the value of the bioavailabilty study because of it’s design, not the value of the data.

In my opinion, neither the bioavailabiltiy or the U of M Exposure Pathway studies are necessary. They are just another example of paralysis by analysis. We know dioxin is hazardous to humans, that they accumulate in the body, that they take a very long time to dissipate from the body or the soil, the clinical and subclinical effects of dixoin are being detected in the general population of non-contaminated areas, and flood plain residents live every day in close proximity with high levels of dioxin in and about our homes. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that even a little bit extra dioxin in your body is not a good thing in this situation.  The reasonable course of action: take precautions now until the source of the contamination is removed.

So what is the source of the extra dioxin that seems to be prevalent in flood plain resident’s blood? If we get 95% of our dioxin from food like everyone else as Dr. Birnbaum suggests, the remaining 5% could not account for the abnormally high levels in our blood. Where did the rest come from? How did the Tittabawassee fish and floodplain squirrels, turkeys, and deer acquire such elevated dioxin levels? Where did the chicken eggs consumed by river resident’s children acquire the 40 ppt TEQ per egg? The last time I checked, wildlife where not shopping in our local food markets.

How can she speculate that living in areas of highly contaminated soils will have an insignificant effect on our body burdens and also say the Public Health position is: 1) “Current levels in the environment are associated with body burdens in the general population which are at or near the point where effects may be occurring”? and 2) “Continue to reduce sources and Environmental levels” of dioxin.  How can she speculate that living in highly contaminated soils provides an insignificant source of dioxin when the Margin of Exposure for "clearly adverse non-cancer responses" is less than 10?

Public Health should be paramount in this issue in the Tittabawassee watershed.  Speculation and gambling belong in the Mt. Pleasant casino.

Having said all this, we would still like to thank the Lone Tree Council for bringing respected scientist such as Dr. Birnbaum to town. While we did not agree with every thing she said, the vast majority of the information was valuable and the communities understanding of the issues will only improve as they bring in additional speakers in the future.


Click here to download Dr. Birnbaum's power point presentation used at the meeting.

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4/12/05 Dr Linda Birnbaum to speak at  Swan Valley High School  April 13, 2005

Dioxin and Human Health


COMMUNITY SPEAKERS SERIES
Linda Birnbaum PhD ( EPA)
WEDNESDAY APRIL 13 6:30 pm
Swan Valley High School
8400 O'Hern
Saginaw, MI


Free of charge and open to the public
Questions? call or e-mail Michelle Hurd Riddick-Lone Tree Council
michdave@aol.com 989-799-3313

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04/10/05 Australia to adapt Michigan 90 ppt dioxin standard?

Paul Hanly Apr, 08 2005 International Dioxin News: (reader opinion on MDN 4/6/05 article )

Dioxin standard to be tightened to 90 parts per trillion for top metre of Australian residential site.

In Rhodes, a suburb of Sydney, Australia, the new remediators (Thiess Services) of a dioxin contaminated site which had an approval to have dioxin to 1000 ppt in the top metre of remediated soil have applied to the NSW Government to have the allowable dioxin in the top metre of remediated material (ignoring landscaping cover expected to be about 18" (500 mm) thick) reduced to less than 90 parts per trillion. The remediator's health risk analysis for an adjoining site found that to protect children's health the amount of dioxin in surface soils had to be less than 90 pp trillion. This is because of children's lower body weight and because many children eat dirt, a habit called pica.

Thiess is also seeking approval to replace an existing approval for a direct thermal desorber with after burner (incinerator) which had no cyclone, no rapid quench and no wet scrubbers and was originally designed for service station remediation, with one that is designed to operate at higher temperatures and has the pollution controls missing from the earlier machine.

Michigan's' standard of 90 parts per trillion is being adopted in other parts of the world based on health studies! Why would Michigan abandon it, particularly when Americans have a food chain much more contaminated by dioxin than Australia or New Zealand?

TRW Note: Mr. Hanly's website, www.rhodesnsw.org chronicles a dioxin contamination problem, among others, in the area of the Sydney 2000 Olympics site.  The website contains extensive information on the cleanup technology and politics encountered in their effort to remediate the dioxin problem.  Recent activities includes blood sampling of residents and selecting equipment to perform the cleanup.  Click on the picture to the lef to link their Incineration page.

 

 

 

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04/09/05 Buy out offer legitimate?

At the April 7th Dow/DEQ Framework meeting,  a local Entrepreneur by the name of Dr. Shaheen made an offer:

Saginaw News 04/8/05

... "I have a group of businessmen willing to buy every house along the river at double (state equalized value) plus $25,000 to $30,000, depending on condition" ...

... Shaheen refused to talk about plans for buying riverside properties after the meeting.  "I don't want to talk about that," he said. ...

Saginaw News 04/9/05

... Bruce Trogan, an attorney representing residents against Dow, doesn't anticipate Shaheen's offer having much effect on the pending lawsuit, even with its demand for compensation for lost property values.

He said Shaheen may purchase select properties along the river, but certainly not all 2,000. And even if the businessman offers to buy some homes, he said the price likely will fall below the market rate.

"I have great respect for Dr. Shaheen as a savvy investor," Trogan said. "If he does buy some property, he will buy them for less than market value."

Trogan doubts the price will persuade homeowners to withdraw from the lawsuit. He wonders if Shaheen even will make an offer after researching the property further.

"If he finishes his homework, he will discover how grossly and dangerously contaminated the properties are as well as discover the restrictions placed on the properties by the (state Department of Environmental Quality), having declared them a hazardous waste facility," Trogan said.  ...

TRW note: Perhaps Dr. Shaheen is willing to pay 2x the SEV because they obviously would be worth more if they weren't contaminated.  We suspect using 2x SEV is a low number for the properties,  our sources indicate he is using an old formula; the rule of thumb in most states now is that market value is at least 3x tax assessment value.  We also wonder who besides Dr. Shaheen are in the "group of businessmen"?

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04/06/05 Dow DEQ Framework meeting observations

The Dow / DEQ Framework stakeholder meeting held last night in Midland was attended by about half of the 30 invitees plus an equal number of the public and press in the galleries. The initial framework overview presented by DEQ director Steven Chester was identical the first meeting held in Saginaw.  However, the remaining QA and comment period brought to light some new information and differing opinions.

bulletThe Dow funded University of Missouri bioavailability study will have more weight in determining future cleanup standards than the University of Michigan Exposure Pathway.
bulletMidlander's seemed very concerned about this and seem to feel the U of M study would be equally, if not more important  Perhaps this is because they understand that the U of M study results will be indeterminate and prove nothing.
bulletAnother panel member stated he has worked with Dr. Garabrant before in past Dow studies.  Evidently Garabrant has spent quite a bit of time in Midland.
bulletVery little is know about the Dow funded $500,000 University of Missouri study, attendees strongly recommended that all the facts about this study be made public in the very near future.  Everyone expects the raw data and the methods used to interpret them be available for public review and comment as the study progresses.
bulletThe results of the bioavailability study may change the current States 90 ppt RDCC, Mr. Chester stated he did not want anyone to infer that this meant it would be raised, it's also possible it could be lowered.
bulletA panel member recommended that the term stake holder be defined as:
bulletPays property tax
bulletSeeks healthcare in the community
bulletUses the local library
bulletHis only concern and motive for such a definition seemed to be aimed at removing the 'facility' designation from Midland properties, regardless of the consequences to health and financial damages of a potential buyer of the property.  The rights and health of other Michigan residents seem of little concern to him.    Mr. Chester stated that current Michigan Real Estate disclosure laws require the seller to inform the buyer of the contamination if it is suspected, regardless of the part 201 rules definition of a facility.
bulletHe feels that local environmental groups should have very little say in the process as he feels the DEQ is controlled by them.  Mr. Chester and other panel members pointed out the flaws in his theory and defended the rights of other's not in the same socioeconomic class as the panel member.
bulletWhen Chester was asked a hypothetical question: What would you do if your Midland property was deemed a facility?, Chester responded (not exact quote): I would hold the 3rd party polluter accountable and make them clean it up as required under current law Act 451, part 201 rules.
bulletMidland City and County officials encouraged the DEQ to back out of the business of public communication and let them handle it.   Reviewing their track record so far, this would be a huge public health fiasco as the are already on record as stating dioxin is not a health issue and refuse to let anyone do further testing in Midland to determine the true extent of the contamination. Most of their information seems to be related on flawed Dow worker studies.   Midland has higher than normal incidents of diabetes and various cancers which they seem to think are unrelated.

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04/01/05 DEQ premature to accuse others besides Dow for Saginaw River/Bay dioxin

Lone Tree Council Press Release 3/31/05

DEQ Deputy Director says GM/City Data Unavailable to Support Dioxin in River

A Bay City Times story on March 27, 2005, has a local environmental group concerned that the state has muddied the water on sources of dioxin to the Saginaw River and Bay. The story, quoting Jim Sygo, deputy director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), said that Bay City’s Wastewater Treatment Plant and the General Motor’s Powertrain plant may share blame with the Dow Chemical Company for dioxin contamination in the lower Saginaw River and Bay.

Since that story, the Lone Tree Council has learned through an e-mail from Mr. Sygo that “the DEQ does not yet have data that demonstrates that the Bay City WWTP or the General Motors Corp plant in Bay City are in part responsible for the release of dioxin and/or furan to the Saginaw River.” Moreover, the process of collecting and analyzing samples to “fingerprint” their source has not been done. “That data has not been returned or analyzed yet,” wrote Mr. Sygo.

“We believe it is premature to name names other than Dow,” said Michelle Hurd Riddick from the watchdog group, Lone Tree Council. “People have read this story and concluded that Dow is no longer the responsible party for the lower Saginaw River – it has never been the practice of the DEQ to speculate without data in hand and Mr. Sygo has muddied the waters. What we do know is in June of 2003, the United States Environmental Protection Agency identified Dow Chemical as the responsible party for dioxin contamination in the Saginaw River and Bay.”

“Dow has done such an effective job deflecting responsibility for its dioxin cleanup,” said Terry Miller, Lone Tree Council chairman, “from denial, to greenwash, to behind closed door meetings with the state. For those reasons, every story must be fact-checked and challenged – this one doesn’t meet the fact test. Once again, it has allowed Dow to point a finger at someone else, as they did in 2003, blaming GM for dioxin in the Tittabawassee River.”

“At this point the DEQ is just speculating,” said Michelle Hurd Riddick. “We absolutely, positively know that Dow has contaminated the Tittabawassee and Upper Saginaw, and after four years not a bit of cleanup has taken place, we’re still talking – let’s not confuse the public, this story played right into the confusion Dow thrives on.”
-----------
TRW note:  Mr. Sygo is a carryover from the infamous Engler/Harding DEQ.  Like an old movie, his recent, irresponsible actions play like the character in a script for a deep cover mole promoting the agenda of Dow and it's former DEQ regime.  Sygo is well versed in media relations, he knew exactly what he was doing when he made the comments to the Times.   Who is he really working for?   A retraction of his statements and a public apology to GM and Bay City are in order.

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bulletSee newspaper articles for information dating back to January 2002.  Click here
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