River Watch www.trwnews.net
TRW Archives 2007 2nd quarter 04/01/07 - 06/30/07
"Thomas and Tittabawassee officials said they'd like the state Department of Environmental Quality to lift the "facility" label the agency applied to many properties along the Tittabawassee, sparking outrage among some residents and lawmakers who said the designation has affected property values and wasn't based on sound science."
The article mentions the few property owners who support this move but makes no mention of the 100,000 plus citizens who oppose it the last time in 2005 which was fortunately vetoed by Governor Granholm. Click here to view all the details of that battle.
|The MDEQ mailed a 4 page newsletter to local residents in 2005 addressing it's new 'Facility' language contained in a "Revised Advisory". The revision clarifies language used in the original "Supplemental Advisory Regarding Part 201 Requirements Applicable to Property Contaminated by Dioxin" published in June of 2003.|
Click on image to the left to view a few excerpts from the MDEQ 2005 newsletter clarifying a facility.
06/27/07 EPA: Dow Chemical must clean up Tittabawassee Hot Spots Immediately
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CHICAGO (June 27, 2007) -U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today notified Dow Chemical Co. that it must immediately start cleanup of three dioxin-contaminated hot spots downstream of its Midland, Mich., facility on the Tittabawassee River.
The action is being taken using the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 and requires that Dow and EPA negotiate the final terms of three administrative consent orders for the cleanup within 15 days and start field work by August 15.
EPA has documented that dioxin contamination in soil poses risks to human health and the environment. Cleanup must take place in a significant portion of the Upper Tittabawassee River this construction season.
In late November 2006, Dow identified dioxin hot spots along the first six miles of the Tittabawassee River contaminated with levels up to 87,000 parts per trillion, far in excess of state and federal requirements. The areas of concern are subject to flooding and erosion that could spread the contamination.
Dow's corrective action work under its 2003 Michigan Resource Conservation and Recovery Act license has taken too long, prompting EPA to require the following actions.
Dow has five days to respond to EPA's notice letter.
The Dow facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant located in Midland, Mich. Dioxins and furans were byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, fugitive emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination. Contamination of the Saginaw Bay Watershed extends over 50 miles into Saginaw Bay.
# # #
CONTACT: Karen Thompson, +1-312-353-8547,
firstname.lastname@example.org, of U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency
Web site: http://www.epa.gov/
06/22/07 Township eyes funds to increase residents dioxin exposure
A recent article in the Saginaw News indicates at least one Saginaw Township official is excited about the possibility of creating additional avenues of dioxin exposure for the areas residents. "Saginaw Township Supervisor Tim Braun envisions a network of pedestrian paths ... Hopefully we can come up with a project that would benefit all the communities along the Tittabawassee River ...".
Freeland officials followed the Dow money trail back in 2005 when they accepted funds for improvements in the Freeland Festival Park. When the river is below flood stage, the results are beautiful ....
However, almost every year seasonal flooding saturates the entire park with new deposits of dioxin contaminated river sediment coating the surfaces of almost every structure in the park. The levels and location of the dioxin contamination change with every flood, park soil sampling in 2005 revealed levels of 8,900 ppt which is 2.5 times the levels sampled in 2003.
The Dow plan included a wall to keep residents from roaming the riverbank and a dock to allow access to the river. The stone walls effectively keep toddlers off the banks; however you can visit the park on almost any given day and see kids (and adults) who have used the decks and walkways as access points to climb down onto the river banks to fish. Freeland officials recognized the potential dangers of the river back when the walls where installed: "It looks nice -- we're trying to be natural -- but we're also trying to say, 'Hey, don't walk down here,' " said Brian Kischnick, manager of Tittabawassee Township." Curious statement as Freeland elected to REMOVE warning signs at the same time all the other parks posted updated versions. 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.
Additional river sediment testing in 2007 found levels as high as 100,000 ppt. Where will Mr. Braun's future pedestrian paths be located and how can he insure the nearby banks and soil are not contaminated? If they are "clean" this year, what about next year? Will his proposal include proper fencing to keep kids from climbing down on to the river banks? Currently, the river banks are difficult to reach in most areas, until Dow cleans the river and it's floodplain soils, do not encourage further exposure.
The "settlement" funds mentioned in the article are part of the Dow/MDEQ Framework whose goals include "Creating a defined process for moving forward to address remaining concerns regarding these areas and the Saginaw River and Bay by ensuring that ecological and human risk reduction and restoration projects can be implemented that provide environmental protection and meaningful local environmental and public benefits, including enhancement of ongoing regional economic development efforts." If the process includes Dow buying public officials with pet projects via the Chamber of Commerce puppets, our concerns about the framework agreement are as valid as ever:
"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."
Unfortunately, all the talk of "pedestrian walkways" is just smoke and mirrors to reel local officials into the net. Could the real intent of the Chamber of Commerce be to mount another attack on the Dow "Facility" regulation? We think so, click here for all the gory details of their last attempt which fortunately was vetoed by Governor Granholm in late 2005..
We all want our river back, lets do it the right way. Dow Clean It Up!
06/15/07 Dow's Michigan plan to be applied in Thailand?
Is Dow concerned because they may not be able to
persuade Thailand to capitulate to the same level as Michigan?
06/09/07 Blah ba blah ba blah
The Dow puppet masters and their U of M traveling road show made another appearance in town this week promoting their "Trust us, we're the experts" campaign. The sparsely attended event audience was composed of about 30 people consisting of Dow/U of M staff , a few local newspaper reporters, and a handful of Dow supporters. Noticeably absent where the estimated 2000 other property owners who live along the Tittabawassee River who recognized this event for what it was, a snake oil pitch. The theme consisted of rehashing and manipulating statistics to down play the extensive contamination of the properties and bodies of floodplain residents. The $15,000,000 provided by Dow to the U of M for this "study" evidently came with a condition that the troops return periodically to convince themselves and the media that contrary to the beliefs in the rest of the world, dioxin contamination is something we should just accept.
The Media has latched on to the Dow mantra that residents only have a "small"
increase of dioxin in their bodies above those of a "control" group in another
part of the state (and it's levels are higher than those found in many areas in
the rest of the nation). What they fail to mention is that reputable
scientist have established that
current levels of dioxin
in the environment are associated with body burdens in the general population
which are at or near the point where effects may be occuring.
The key phrase here is "general population", i.e. the average citizen
living in non-contaminated areas. Tittabawassee flood plain
residents live in
HIGHLY CONTAMINATED areas.
A case in point. The primary statistic being repeated by the press is the median value associated with the one person of the 945 who participated that had a dioxin level 28% higher than the "control" group in Jackson. The median is the one value which happens to be in the exact middle of all the results. In other words, 50% of those tested had levels HIGHER than 28% statistic mentioned by the press. That's 465 people with levels higher than the 28% increase reported. Dow and the U of M are intentionally creating an atmosphere of complacency.
I would be very concerned if I where Joe "median" or any of the other 465 citizens with an increase of "only 28%" or more of the most deadly toxin know to man. Especially when Dr. Birnbaum of the EPA says they are observing adverse health effects on humans at "background" levels.
The data used to generate the U of M statistics are not available to the public. Dow understands this and recognizes that statistics are a wonderful tool which can be used to present or skew data in ways that boggle the mind. You will never see them provide the raw data (which can easily be done to preserve the privacy of individuals) to other researchers for non-biased analysis.
David Linhardt, a Chemical Engineer formerly employed by Dow, performed an analysis of the U of M reports and found:
The recent U/M Dioxin Exposure Study did not fully explain the significance of elevated dioxin blood serum levels found in Michigan residents. In addition, the U/M did not discuss many of the significant findings presented in the supplied data tables.
- When compared on a year 2005 to year 2005 basis, Michigan median serum levels are 70% higher than the national levels. This elevation is much greater than the 10% increase reported by the U/M. When compared on a mean, 95th percentile and maximum level basis, Michigan serum levels are from 52% to 125% higher than US levels.
- Dioxin serum levels in the Midland Dow Plume are lower than other Michigan areas. The U/M has kept the specific locations that were sampled confidential. However, based on data from previous soil sampling programs, more than 70% of the locations sampled in Midland by the U/M may have been two miles or more from the Dow incineration complex. Only 2 out of a total of 31 samples may have been taken in heavily contaminated neighborhoods. Although Midland serum levels are low compared to other Michigan study zones, average serum levels in Midland are still nearly 150% higher than the corresponding 2005 US level.
- The U/M found very high dioxin blood serum levels even in background areas believed to be regions of low dioxin contamination. Every Michigan area studied by the U/M was found to have dioxin serum levels significantly higher than 2005 US national levels. The study confirmed that dioxin contamination in Michigan is more wide-spread than previously believed and not just confined to the Midland/Saginaw area.
A comprehensive analysis of the U/M study, including information not discussed in the U/M report, can be found on a new website www.MI-Dioxins.com The website will only carry information related to the U/M dioxin blood serum report.
The Executive Summary of the analysis has been provided as an attachment to this email. If you believe that the analysis has value, please forward information on the analysis and the website to persons concerned about the levels of dioxins being found in the human body.
The media coverage of our situation have definitely taken a pro Dow stance, kind of hard to deny the whims of a 50 billion dollar corporation that lives in your backyard. Review the recent newspaper headlines and then scroll back in time, the headlines tell it all. According to one of the recent articles, the Dow PR campaign is affecting a few residents math skills as some now believe the 2+2=0.
05/29/07 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update
05/14/07 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update
Great News from Dow Share Holders
Unprecedented Dow Shareholder Vote Urges Transparency on Cleanup|
Click here to view the entire update
Three resolutions presented at Dow Chemicals Annual Share Holder meeting "raise serious concerns about the companies ability to manage risks, reputational damage that could harm expansion plans, and failures to disclose material liabilities to investors. Two of the resolutions relate to contamination that Dow has failed to remediate dioxin contamination in mid-Michigan and abandoned waste in Bhopal, India; the third resolution seeks to address the asthma epidemic and links to pesticides made by Dow."
Three resolutions demand reporting on alleged harms to human
health and the environment in Dow's hometown and around the globe
(CSRwire) MIDLAND, MI- May 9, 2007- Shareholders of Dow Chemical (NYSE: DOW) representing $305 million will challenge CEO Andrew Liveris and top management at its annual stockholders meeting on Thursday, May 10, 2007, to address concerns about the companies destructive impact on human health and the environment.
Stockholders will vote on three resolutions which raise serious concerns about the companies ability to manage risks, reputational damage that could harm expansion plans, and failures to disclose material liabilities to investors. Two of the resolutions relate to contamination that Dow has failed to remediate dioxin contamination in mid-Michigan and abandoned waste in Bhopal, India; the third resolution seeks to address the asthma epidemic and links to pesticides made by Dow.
The National Academy of Science recently re-affirmed that there is no safe threshold for the cancer-causing effects of dioxin. Evidence has accumulated that dioxin causes additionally dangerous health problems even at low levels, including developmental problems in children, immunologic problems in children and adults, reproductive problems, and diabetes. A study funded by Dow confirmed increased levels of dioxin in the blood of residents living in the contaminated floodplain downstream from Dow's Midland plant, with median blood levels 28% higher than a comparison group. Yet according to a June 14, 2006 EPA document, "Dow's time frame for the implementation of final remedies is not reasonable or acceptable," and "[studies] are intended to delay the remediation process." Meanwhile, a class-action lawsuit by individuals representing 2,000 residents living along the Tittabawassee River and flood plain alleges that dioxin from the Midland plant threatens their health and lowers property values. The lawsuit seeks damages up to $100 million.
"As shareholders, we are concerned that the continued delays in Dow's remediation of dioxin exposures near their flagship Midland facilities could lead to increased long-term liabilities Dow's reluctance to address such a publicly documented contamination problem, especially in its own backyard, raises red flags about how the company deals with environmental and human health concerns more broadly," said Valerie Heinonen of the Sisters of Mercy Detroit, who filed the resolution on Midland contamination. "We are concerned that they are investing more in public relations than in efforts to provide real solutions."
Investors have expressed similar concerns about Dow's response to Bhopal. On the night of December 2, 1984, 27 tons of poisonous gas including methyl isocyanate leaked from a Union Carbide (UC) pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, taking the lives of more than 7,000 people within days, and resulting in an additional 15,000 deaths in the years since. Pollution continues to contaminate drinking water, and combined with long term effects of the disaster, has led to serious health problems for more than 100,000 people. Because UC is a fully-owned subsidiary, Dow has become the focus of survivors' efforts for justice, and multiple liability cases connected to Bhopal are pending.
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., who filed the resolution on Bhopal along with Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), said, "First and foremost, we must consider our fiduciary obligation, and that includes ensuring that the companies we invest in are responsible corporate citizens not only in the communities where they operate today, but wherever their business decisions have impacted human lives. In Bhopal, India, Dow has inherited a legacy connected to Union Carbide, and we believe that addressing any outstanding liabilities that exist is absolutely necessary if Dow is to ensure expansion in the critical Indian market."
Dow's concerns about expansion in India were confirmed recently in a letter between Dow CEO Liveris and the Indian Ambassador Ronen Sen, uncovered by Bhopal advocates through the Right to Information Act. "This letter is strong evidence that Dow believes pending legal liabilities for the legacy of Bhopal present a barrier to investing in India, but the company has not disclosed this to its shareholders," said Sanford Lewis, an attorney who has represented Dow shareholders.
Added Neil Sardana, an AIUSA activist who is attending the shareholder meeting, "The fact is, while people are dying, Dow has shunted their responsibilities and looked to others to clean up their mess. The suffering in Bhopal is compounded by Dow's refusal to disclose the chemical makeup of toxins that are poisoning people, making it impossible for them to receive adequate medical treatment."
Trillium Asset Management, which filed the resolution on asthma, has a similar complaint and is requesting a report analyzing the impact of Dow products linked to asthma, including end-use pesticides, pesticide active ingredients and other chemicals. The list of Dow pesticide products with ingredients linked to respiratory problems is long and Dow is the basic manufacturer of many active ingredients, including 2,4-D and chlorpyrifos. The Centers for Disease Controls most recent National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals found 93% of the U.S. population has chlorpyrifos metabolites in their bodies, and children ages 6-11 have exposure at four times the level EPA considers acceptable for long-term exposure. Additionally, more than 25% of the U.S. population has 2,4-D in their bodies, with children having the highest concentrations. In the opinion of the shareholder proponents, CDC's data will aid the correlation of exposure to disease, and increase the likelihood of liability suits against Dow.
Proponents of these three resolutions believe that their concerns are interconnected, and that for Dow to become a truly ethical company as described in its annual corporate citizenship report it must address the full range of social and environmental issues. This also includes issues that were not represented on today's ballot, such as legacy issues connected to Agent Orange in Vietnam and Nemagon use in Central America. Outside the shareholder meeting, activists representing a wide range of environmental and human health concerns will be protesting the apparent hypocrisy of Dow's new "Human Element" ad campaign, demanding of Dow, "Where is the human element?"
The shareholders who filed the resolutions represent over 6.6 million shares including the New York City Pension Funds, New York State Common Retirement Fund (NYSCRF), Trillium Asset Management, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA), Dominican Sisters: Grand Rapids, Sisters of Holy Cross and Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit Charitable Trust.
05/08/07 Court of appeals hears dioxin arguments,
Excerpts from May 8, 2007 Midland Daily News article: Court of Appeals hears dioxin arguments
|The case, which could grow to include as many as 2,000 property owners, is on desks of Michigan Court of Appeals judges, who heard arguments Monday (5/7/07) on whether Saginaw County's Circuit Court erred when it granted the suit class action status more than a year and a half ago.|
|Attorneys speculate it could be another three to six months before the lawsuit against The Dow Chemical Co. over dioxin contamination moves forward or back.|
|Litigants want Dow to pay them the value of their property, saying it has been made worthless by Dow's historical deposits of the toxin linked to cancer, diabetes and a multitude of other health issues.|
|Dow said that because not all properties have been tested, and because location on the 100-year flood plain doesn't guarantee contamination, some people who would be included in the class if it is certified don't have a valid complaint.|
|That group of possible class litigants is different from lead plaintiffs Kathy and Gary Henry, Kurtenbach said, because the class litigants are suing based on the possibility they have contamination, or will have contamination, on their property in the future. The Henrys, on the other hand, have had their property tested and have been made aware that elevated levels of dioxin exist on their land. "They don't have to rely on a "threat" claim, they've actually got a contamination claim," Kurtenbach (Dow lawyer) said.|
|Theresa Woody (Plaintiff attorney) said , "the fact that the state of
Michigan via its Department of Environmental Quality has warned every
property owner in the 100-year flood plain of elevated levels, has issued
safety warnings about soil contact and inhalation and has put out wildlife
and fish advisories is proof enough that each person has been affected by
the dioxin problem".|
|Woody said Dow is trying to change Michigan law, "Right now what they're saying, is: Make them prove they can win before they get class action (status)," she said. "They are trying to graft onto the law a requirement of physical intrusion. That's not the law in the state of Michigan."|
|The trio of judges hearing the case scarcely commented during the
hearing: Kirsten F. Kelly, Patrick Meter, Karen Fort Hood.
05/06/07 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update
|Saginaw Earth Day stories on the Lone Tree Council|
|Lone Tree Council Memberships|
|Henry et al vs. Dow Chemical|
|Lone Tree Council vs. Army Corp of Engineers|
|Good news from the DEQ Dow Quarterly Meeting|
Click here to view the entire update
|The MDEQ announced at it's quarterly Midland/Saginaw/Bay City (Tri-Cities) Dioxin Community Meeting that two "hot spots" will be cleaned up this summer. Both areas are located just downstream of the Dow Midland Headquarters with reported levels ranging from 30,000 to 60,000 ppt TEQ dioxin.|
|A third spot with levels as high as 87,000 ppt TEQ Dioxin was mentioned, however cleanup may not begin until 2008.|
|Interesting, a 4th spot with a
ppt TEQ was not mentioned.|
|Hydraulic Dredging was specified as the clean
|The two sites account for 3,600 feet of the river sediment which is 3% of the 22 miles (116,00 feet) of contamination.|
|While cleanup goes after a small portion of the dioxin source, it does
not directly address the estimated 16,000 acres of
contaminated properties in the rivers flood plain.|
|The most interesting development this week was the
announcement by the MDEQ
Deputy Director that Michigan's economic problems could slow down
efforts to clean up the three hot spots along the Tittabawassee River due to
cuts in his staff if the State reduces or eliminates his budget.|
05/03/07 Tri-Cities Dioxin Community Meeting
04/22/07 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update
Let a Lake
Touch you this Earth day|
Brett Cherry reviews the dredge site for Review|
|From Midland County's former Planning Director|
|Our list is growing|
Click here to view the entire update
04/1807 Dredge Materials Disposal Facility Update
04/16/07 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update
|Upcoming court dates|
|Status of other litigation|
Click here to view the entire update
04/15/07 New dioxin related health studies
Dioxin contributing to drop in male births?
Where are all the missing boys?
It is a question posed by a new study that has found the proportion of boys born over the past three decades has unexpectedly dropped in both the United States and Japan. In all, more than a quarter of a million boys are missing, compared to what would have been expected had the sex ratio existing in 1970 remained unchanged.
The study also says the world's most skewed sex ratio is in Canada, in a native community surrounded by petrochemical plants in Sarnia, Ont., where the number of boys born has plunged since the mid-1990s at a rate never seen. ... [more]
Study finds dioxin increases liver tumors and lung metaplasia
Epidemiological studies indicated that people exposed to dioxins were prone to the development of lung diseases including lung cancer. Animal studies demonstrated that 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) increased liver tumors and promoted lung metaplasia in females. ... [more]
04/12/07 It's Time to Put the Saginaw Valley in Ecological Order
In view of Governor Granholm’s silence in providing the leadership and resources in cooperation with the counties of Midland, Saginaw and Bay for developing an environmental enhancement plan of action for the Saginaw Valley, I felt it necessary to summarize the findings of the "International Environmental Study: Environmental Enhancement of the Niagara River." I also commented on the environmental enhancement study in my previous essay, "It’s Time to Plan Ahead". (TRW note, see 3/12/07 entry below)
The "International Environmental Study" emphasized the implications and impact of the Niagara River system on the larger regional environmental framework in terms of tourist oriented land use concentrations, transportation, environmental health, landfill and waste management, natural areas, governmental management and coordination practices, air and water pollution generators and vacant developable land adjacent to the river.
The planning approach used to develop the Niagara River corridor plan is applicable to the development of a regional environmental enhancement plan of action for the Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River corridors and Saginaw Bay. The future of the Saginaw Valley clearly depends on the utilization and management of its water and land resources in a planned, ecological order.
The Niagara River and its shores represent a single system, as do the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and Saginaw Bay. Changes in one part of shore may restrict or preclude meaningful use or preservation of other parts. The goal-related findings and conclusions pertaining to the "Niagara River Environmental Plan" included the following:
|Abatement of Pollution|
|Preservation of Natural Areas|
|Enhancement of Scenic Beauty|
|Expansion of River Oriented Recreational Opportunities|
|Scope and Quality of Residential, Commercial and Industrial Development|
|Improvement of Access to the River|
|Improvement of Appreciation of Historical Heritage|
The "International Environmental Study" technical report included the following components:
|Recommendations (Priorities, Selected Plans, Programs)|
|Goals and Objectives|
|The Current Environmental Situation Along the Niagara River|
|Future Development Proposals|
|Alternative Plans (Short-range and Long-range)|
|Range of Solutions for Managing the Environmental Aspects of the Niagara River|
|Procedure for Evaluating Alternative Plans|
Although aimed at preserving natural areas and enhancing the scenic beauty of the Niagara River area, neither the short-term nor the long-range programs were directed at returning the area to its primitive scenic state. The programs recognized commerce and industry as prime contributors to the area and as essential features of the Niagara River environment. They also aimed at a change that would more effectively accommodate these and other productive functions in a scenic, recreation-oriented environment.
It’s time to put the Saginaw Valley in ecological order.
Richard A. Maltby, AICP
TRW Note: Mr. Maltby is a retired professional urban and environmental resource
planner and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planers (AICP)
and the American Planning Association. He has 38 years of experience in
Michigan, Illinois, and New York; the most recent as the Midland county planning
director from 1983-1998. He currently resides in the Midland area and was
a Freeland resident form 1942-1957.
04/01/07 Tittabawassee River Residents Concerns
Delta college students produced a video in 2004 covering Dows dioxin contamination of the Tittabawassee River and flood plain. Included are segments of a TRW Meeting in which residents express concerns about the dioxin contamination of their homes and properties as well as ways to avoid contamination from the flood plan. Terry Miller of the Lone Tree Council is featured and includes his commentary on the source of the contamination and Dow's attempt to avoid responsibility for it. Posted on YouTube in November 2006. Click here to view.
|See newspaper articles for information dating back to January 2002. Click here|
|For additional archived information, click here|