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TRW Archives 2008 1st quarter 01/01/08 - 03/31/08
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03/22/08 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

bulletHenry et al v Dow
bulletPetition to the Saginaw County Board of Health
bulletData: What's in and what's coming up
bulletSunshine week in March but not for Midland or the DMDF
bulletDetroit Free Press on our sweet water seas

Click here for all the Dioxin Updates

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03/14/08 Court denies Dow's Motion for Reconsideration

The Michigan Court of Appeals has denied Dow Chemical's request for reconsideration in granting class action status for residents living in the Tittabawassee River floodplain for property damage due to their dioxin contamination.  This was in response Dows Motion for Reconsideration filed February 14, 2008 regarding the Michigan State Appeals Court January 2008 decision to grant Class Action Certification to the Tittabawassee floodplain residents case against Dow Chemical.

Click here to review all the detail of the case since it was filed in March of 2003

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03/14/08 Center for Disease Control publicizes it's concerns for Tittabawassee River residents health

As reported back in February 2008 by Sheila Kaplan and the Nation Institute Investigative Fund, "the nation's top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially "alarming information" as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates." 

The CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) has now made the information public on it's website, http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/grtlakes/2007.html,.  Below are a few excerpts From Chapter 4 "Lake Huron" beginning at page 185 which pertain to the Dow Chemical contamination of the Tittabawassee River and it's impact on human health.

185 4.1.1.13 Tittabawassee River

The Dow Chemical Company plant in the city of Midland, Midland County, MI was the subject of an ATSDR health consultation that was triggered by community concerns regarding high levels of PCDDs in soil in the city of Midland and in fish in the nearby Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland. An additional concern arose when sampling of the Tittabawassee floodplain near the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers revealed high levels of dioxin contamination. The soil contamination issue was considered in the ATSDR health consultation on the Dow Chemical Co. site, presented in Section 4.1.1.12, which provides a description of the plant location and releases to the environment. The issue of contamination of the floodplain of the Tittabawassee River is considered in a separate 2002 ATSDR health consultation, summarized below. The Tittabawassee floodplain area that is potentially of concern extends from the City of Midland in Midland County to the City of Saginaw in Saginaw County. The sampling sites were within Saginaw County.

Category of Public Health Hazard: This site was categorized as an Indeterminate Public Health Hazard (Category 3) because of the potential threat to human health from exposure to PCDDs and PCDFs and the lack of monitoring data for the residential area. Initial findings of a University of Michigan study, as reported by EPA (2006), are suggestive of an exposure-related elevated blood levels for dioxin in residents consuming fish from the area and in those participating in the area’s recreational activities (see Public Health Outcome data).

Contaminants of Concern in Completed Exposure Pathways: Elevated dioxin TEQs (as high as 7,261 ppt, includes PCDDs and PCDFs) were found in soil samples from a floodplain area near the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers in Saginaw County, analyzed as part of a wetland mitigation project, and in other floodplain areas (golf course, wildlife refuge) upstream from the mitigation site. These levels were considered to be high enough to pose an urgent public health hazard if people were routinely exposed to soil at these locations, but ATSDR concluded that the level of exposure on these properties is not known, and was concerned regarding the lack of sampling on nearby residential properties. The only known source of dioxin contamination was the Dow Chemical Company plant upstream at Midland. ATSDR concluded that the contamination likely resulted from deposition of contaminated river sediments in the Tittabawassee River floodplain. As discussed in Section 4.1.1.12, fish in the Tittabawassee River below the city of Midland have elevated levels of PCDDs and PCBs. Based on the floodplain soil data together with the fish data, ATSDR concluded that dioxin contamination may be widespread throughout the Tittabawassee River watershed below Midland, but data were lacking on possible exposures. EPA reported (2006) that fish contamination by PCDDs and PCDFs, which have resulted in fish consumption advisories, represented a potential completed exposure pathway for residents of the area. EPA also reported that subsequent sampling found dioxin TEQs as high as 41,000 ppt within the first six miles downstream of the Dow plant. In addition, an initial investigation for other contaminants besides PCDDs and PCDFs is expected to be completed by 2007.

Demographics: Twelve homes are located adjacent to the river less than half a mile upstream from the mitigation site where very high TEQs were detected. Numerous other residential properties are located within the floodplain upstream of the wetland mitigation site. 186 Do Not Cite or Quote

Public Health Outcome Data: EPA reported (2006) that, in 2006, the University of Michigan conducted a dioxin exposure study which was funded by Dow. EPA further reported some of the key initial findings of the study as:

bulletResidents living in regions expected to have dioxin contamination (Midland/Saginaw) have higher concentrations of dioxins in their blood than do residents in a control area without dioxin contamination.
bulletResidents in areas with higher levels of dioxins in soil have a higher TEQ (total dioxin-like activity) in their blood.
bulletPopulations consuming fish from the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay waterways have higher concentrations of dioxins in their blood than people who do not eat fish from these waterways.
bulletPopulations participating in recreational activities in the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay have higher concentrations of dioxins in their blood than persons who do not participate.

Conclusions: This site is contaminated with the IJC critical pollutants PCDDs and PCDFs, probably from releases from the Dow Chemical Company plant upstream at Midland, Midland County. The dioxin contamination, as reported by EPA (2006), is widespread throughout the Tittabawassee River watershed below Midland, but initial data were lacking on possible exposures. More recently (2006), EPA reported the availability of analytical sampling data combined with information on human activities in the watershed areas which indicate that statistically significant exposures to dioxin could be occurring, especially within populations who consume significant quantities of locally harvested fish and/or wild game. In addition, a wild game study for the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland was conducted by Dow in 2004. State of Michigan health assessors have reviewed the wild game data and found that levels of dioxins in the wild game harvested in the floodplain for the study were up to 7 times higher than samples taken upstream of Midland in deer muscle meat, 118 times higher in deer liver, 66 times higher in turkey, and 40 times higher in squirrel. The assessors concluded that eating contaminated deer, turkey, or squirrel containing dioxin, at the levels found in the Dow wild game study, could result in adverse health effects.

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03/04/08 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update
Below are just a few snippets from the Update, read it all for the full details, see link below:

bulletDow asking appeals court to reconsider
bulletDEQ writes it for Dow and rights it for community
bullet After months of waiting for a revised Scope of Work from Dow, DEQ did an Approval with Modifications of Revised Dow Remedial Investigation Scope of Work for the Saginaw River and Floodplain and Saginaw Bay (2/1/08). DEQ has the authority under RCRA ( Dow Chemical agreed to that authority) to modify these plans so as to not further cause  delays because of Dow's failure to submit acceptable work to the state.
bulletThe smaller more gentle environmental footprint lost on Rep Horn
bullet It's unfortunate but Rep Horn apparently has not read the local papers which reported widely that a much smaller footprint along the river was being planned for areas of removal. Local radio also reported it. Last Friday’s My View Column found the good representative ranting about many items related to the cleanup but he  made some erroneous statements that need to be corrected. OK-  I too love a good rant and I can rant with the best of them but the truth cannot get buried in the process. Using fear, counting on property owners to be alarmed, Rep Horn goes on to warn river residents:
bulletHorn:  " More than three hundred majestic 100 year old oak trees were ripped from the ground, root and limb....."
bulletTruth:  Only 3 oaks were removed, click here to see inventory of what was removed and replaced.
bulletHorn: "Your trees are next on the EPA chopping block"
bulletTruth: It’s just not true. Recall this past summer there was a township official and a resident, on site JK with Dow, wearing their hard hats, totally outraged by the tree removal and damage to the environment. Call me cynical-------but like I said at the time, I think the whole thing was staged and calculated by Dow Chemical to outrage the public and put fear in people about what would happen to their property if remediation and cleanup progresses.  It’s unfortunate that Ken Horn feels the need to perpetuate this fear. It’s not conducive to community involvement or constructive resolution. 
bulletHorn: " our river banks were carted away and replaced with sterile soil, likely to be washed away as silt next spring"
bulletTruth: That site was already an eroding bank washing contaminated sediment down the river. The restoration provided stabilization and minimizes future erosion by giving  the river room to spread/expand up the bank to help reduce its energy during high water events like the spring flooding that's right around the corner.
bullet For years this watershed has suffered from knee jerk planning, failed policies, shortsighted political decisions and failure to see the systemic impact on the entire watershed of ill planned projects. DEQ doesn't think we need such a large footprint in the remediation process. EPA agrees.  Hopefully Dow will see the benefit of a smaller footprint too.
bullet The Center for Public Integrity on the Area of Concerns in the Great Lakes
bullet For more than seven months, the nation’s top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially “alarming information” as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates.
bulletCoal fired plants

Click here for all the details

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03/02/08 Saginaw County Board of Health discusses dioxin contamination - public invited

After receiving suggestions by TRW and the Lone Tree Council, Dr. Neil Varner, Medical Director of the Saginaw County Department of Public Health (SCDPH), has taken steps toward fostering better community awareness about the local dioxin contamination.

Dr. Varner told TRW that the MDCH gave a presentation to about 50 of SCDPH nursing staff on Friday, 2/29/08, discussing the local dioxin contamination.  The talk gave an overview of risk assessment and health effects, referencing three studies that had been done ( two from U of M; one from MDCH).  They also discussed the local fish advisories and recommended getting the message out to their health department clients to clean up after visiting the banks of the local waterways, to leave the toxic debris in place and to avoid consuming contaminated fish, stressing the catfish and carp and white bass as prime agents of toxicity to humans.

A second MDCH presentation will be given to the members of the SCDPH Board of Health at this months regularly scheduled meeting ( 4:30 Wednesday, March 5th ) ... As always, the public is invited to this open meeting. NO other agenda items are planned in order for the board members to devote their full attention to the talk.  The meetings are held at 4:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Bennie T. Woodard, Jr. Public Health Center, located at 1600 North Michigan Avenue, Saginaw, MI

The department is also developing preliminary plans to do more community outreach sessions similar to those held a few summers ago by the Michigan Department of Community Health, targeting people who fish and eat their catch.

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03/02/08 Human health effects of dioxins and furans

Regarding Ann Doyle’s, Saginaw County Commissioner District 13,  letter, "Adjust dioxin studies, clean up," published by The Saginaw News February 25, 2008, I would suggest that she and other interested readers of her letter consult the following references for information concerning the human health effects of dioxins and furans:

bullet"Health Assessment Document for Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins." 1985. Office of Health and Environmental Assessment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
bullet"Exposure and Human Health Reassessment of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-Dioxin (TCDD) and Related Compounds." 1994. Office of Research and Development, and National Center for Environmental Assessment. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
bullet"Overall Evaluation of Carcinogenicity to Humans." 2002. IARC Monographs, Volumes 1-82. International Agency for Research on Cancer
bullet"Health Risks from Dioxin and Related Compounds: Evaluation of the EPA Reassessment." 2006. National Research Council
bullet"Dioxins and their effects on human health." 2007. Fact Sheet No. 225. World Health Organization

Sincerely,

Richard A. Maltby

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02/26/08 Dow taking MDEQ to court over Lake Huron


According to a WJRT TV 12 news story, the Dow Chemical Company has filed a lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality because they added Lake Huron as part of Dow's cleanup responsibility.

The MDEQ says the agency's maps indicate this will not take testing into Lake Huron waters, and denies the DEQ changed the company's operating license.

The article goes on to state which is probably the real reason Dow filed the suit:

    "But the legal action could slow down further investigation of contamination of the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay."

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02/21/08 Dow appeals the Appeals Court decision

On February 14, 2008 Dow filed a motion for reconsideration with the Michigan State Appeals Court regarding the Courts January 2008 decision to grant Class Action Certification to the Tittabawassee floodplain residents case against Dow Chemical.

Click here to review all the detail of the case since it was filed in March of 2003

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02/18/08 State updates fish consumption advisory for Saginaw River

An MDCH statement this week said that the findings of the public health consultation emphasize that people should closely follow the Michigan interim fish consumption advisory for the Saginaw River, which states:

bulletNo one should eat carp, catfish, or white bass;
bulletWomen of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should not eat smallmouth bass;
bulletAll other people are advised to eat no more than one meal of smallmouth bass per week;
bulletWomen of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should eat no more than one meal per month of walleye less than 22 inches in length and six meals per year of larger walleye;
bulletAll other people are advised that walleye smaller than 22 inches may be eaten in unlimited quantities, but larger walleye should be eaten no more often than once per week; and
bulletFor all other species of fish caught in the Saginaw River, women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should eat no more than one meal per month and all other people may eat these fish one meal per week.

With new data on chemical levels in Saginaw River fish expected, the fish consumption advisory will be updated this year.
 

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02/12/08 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

bulletThe Saginaw River
bullet MDCH recently released the Petitioned Health Consultation on the Saginaw River and the Fish Consumption Survey for the Saginaw Bay Watershed.
bullet

Both documents strongly identify/suggest the adverse impact on minorities consuming fish from the Saginaw River and make suggestions to further educate and involve the community in addressing what is obviously a public health hazard according to MDCH. 

bulletThe Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce
bullet While there are many issues of more significance than the Chambers latest salvo at a regulatory agency or its defense of Dow's chronic bad behavior, statements cannot go unchallenged.  Terry Miller, Lone Tree Chair did a great job responding in a My View column in the Saginaw News. There is however no Saginaw News Internet link to Terry's response. Read this update for his response.  Below are a few snippets.
bullet The Chamber is wrong and their statement a deliberate attempt to mislead.
bullet It's interesting that Mr. Eggers, President of ATK Peerless failed full disclosure and  did not divulge the significant income garnered by his company as a contract employee for Dow Chemical doing work on priority one and two properties along the river contaminated with dioxin.
bullet There are no documents on the LTC web-site from the EPA or anyone else
bullet Perhaps Mrs. Horn would then ask Dow Chemical to honor their commitment to the people of this watershed by honoring the RCRA corrective action license signed by Ms. Sue Carrington on Dow’s behalf in June of 2003. 
bullet Unlike the Chamber of Commerce, EPA and DEQ  do  not see a healthy eco-system and a healthy economy as being mutually exclusive. In progressive communities with progressive thinkers that archaic thinking is no longer acceptable.
bullet The headlines and subsequent stories are not about the "release" of information but the content in the release. It’s what is revealed in these documents that so unnerves the Chamber of Commerce because it exposes the shenanigans of Dow Chemical.  To suggest the public's access to information hinders negotiations one can only conclude the Chamber thinks the negotiations should be out of the public arena. We strongly disagree. Dow polluted this environment they don't own it.

Click here for all the details

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02/10/08 The local poor cancer risk as high as 1 in 25 from eating Saginaw River fish

At the dioxin public meeting this past Thursday held in Saginaw, a Health Consultation report was released by MDCH in a cooperative agreement with ATSDR evaluating Saginaw River dioxin exposures and health risk.

There is a population here, the poor, uneducated Saginaw East side community who regularly fish and feed their families all species of fish from the Saginaw River including catfish and carp. When asked about the fish advisories, over 1/2 of these individuals did not even know there were advisories.

MDCH consultation concluded that some Saginaw River fish eaters from this population could have an individual cancer risk as high as 1 in 25.

A Dow supporter stood up and asked if this consultation had been peer reviewed. Stunning.

Of course, this did not make the news the next day as the Shiver on the River fishing contest comes to a conclusion this weekend.

And the Saginaw Chamber of commerce is up in arms about an accidental document released by EPA to The Lone Tree Council that paints Dow in a bad light, and is calling for an investigation.

Kathy Henry, TRW

bullet Health Consultation: Evaluation of Saginaw River Dioxin Exposures and Health Risks
bulletPage 49:  "In most cases the incremental lifetime individual cancer risk (upper bound) estimates increased reaching a potential maximum risk of 1 additional cancer per 25 exposed individuals (3,900 additional cancers per 100,000 people eating 2 (227 gram) meals of carp per month).
bullet

Michigan’s level of concern is 1 additional cancer per 100,000 individuals exposed.

bullet

Fish Consumption Survey of people fishing and harvesting fish from Saginaw Bay watershed
bullet

Page 47: 62% of minorities surveyed reported eating bottom feeding carp, the most contaminated species.  7% of whites reported eating carp.

bullet

MDCH Interim Fish Consumption Advisory for the Saginaw River

bullet

Petition to ATSDR requesting Health Consultation


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02/10/08  Dioxin Exposure, from Infancy through Puberty, Produces Endocrine Disruption
and Affects Human Semen Qualit
y

This study on men from Seveso published in January 2008 provides evidence
 of a permanent disruptive effect of TCDD on the human male reproductive system,
depending on the age at exposure.

Conclusions: Exposure to TCDD in infancy reduces sperm concentration and motility, and an
opposite effect is seen with exposure during puberty. Exposure in either period leads to
permanent reduction of estradiol and increased FSH. These effects are permanent and
occur at TCDD concentrations < 68 ppt, which is within one order of magnitude of those
in the industrialized world in the 1970s and 1980s and may be responsible at least in part
for the reported decrease in sperm quality, especially in younger men.

Click here for additional information about Dioxin and it's effects on human health

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02/10/08 Great Lakes Danger Zones - CDC blocks release of study

As reported by Sheila Kaplan with assistance from the Nation Institute Investigative Fund,

"For more than seven months, the nation's top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially "alarming information" as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates.

    Researchers found low birth weights, elevated rates of infant mortality and premature births, and elevated death rates from breast cancer, colon cancer, and lung cancer.

The 400-plus-page study, Public Health Implications of Hazardous Substances in the Twenty-Six U.S. Great Lakes Areas of Concern, was undertaken by a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at the request of the International Joint Commission, an independent bilateral organization that advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on the use and quality of boundary waters between the two countries. The study was originally scheduled for release in July 2007 by the IJC and the CDC's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). ..."

Click here to view entire article  or here to view reports chapter 4 on Lake Huron and it's tributaries including the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers.  Many of the reports other chapters can be viewed at http://www.publicintegrity.org/GreatLakes/index.htm 

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02/09/08 Finally, State investigating dioxin cleanup options

At Thursday nights MDEQ Community Dioxin Meeting, Art Ostaszewski of the MDEQ gave a presentation on Dioxin Treatment Technologies currently under review by the state.  

bulletSource of contamination to be cleaned is basically divided into 3 categories:
bulletRiver Sediments such as sands, silts, bed load, buried, exposed, and re-suspended
bulletEroding River Banks
bulletSoils: those that are repeatedly flooded on agricultural, recreational, and residential properties
bulletMDEQ treatment approaches used to date
bulletNatural Attenuation:  basically do nothing and monitor
bulletLow cost however not effective as current sampling indicates
bulletExcavation and hauling to Chemical Disposal Facility Landfill
bulletDow chose to use these methods on 4 hotspot cleanups done last year
bulletMost disruptive and costly method (TRW note: curious why Dow chose this method)
bulletInterim Response Activities:  see Biotech and Phase Separation solutions below
bulletLess intrusive than Excavation/Hauling
bulletPossibly less costly
bulletNew science at work, 2 new methods used in pilot study last year with exciting results.
bulletMDEQ requirements for testing new technology
bulletThe technology must involve the destruction and extraction of the contaminants
bulletThe technology must have been used previously in other full-scale cleanups
bulletThe technology company must conduct a "Bench Scale" (i.e. trial) on the Tittabawassee contamination at no cost to the state
bulletTwo companies participated in the trial (note the MDEQ does not endorse either at this time)
bulletBiotech Restorations www.geosolve-inc.com/biotech.html
bulletTrial on Tittabawassee removed 45% of dioxin and furans in 4 months
bulletCompany thinks they can improve the performance with further enhancement of the process. Other sites treated have seen > 96% removal rates.
bullet Process using existing bacteria in soil to breakdown the contaminants into inert substances.
bulletProcess treats the soil in place, however it needs to be plowed and watered
bullet39 other projects around the world
bulletPhase Separation Solutions www.phaseparation.com/soil/index.html 
bulletTrial on Tittabawassee removed 99.8% of dioxins and furans
bullet Process uses a low temperature thermal desorption process where soils are removed and fed into a portable "extraction chamber" located on or near the treatment area.
bulletProcess requires soils to be temporarily removed and fed into chamber.  After treatment they can be returned to original location.
bullet8+ projects worldwide including potential residential areas near the Sydney Australia 2000 Olympics site
bullet4 steps will be used to assess treatment technologies
bulletStep 1: Bench Scale
bulletMichigan's cost: none
bulletInitial review of technology
bulletConduct Bench-Scale test with Tittabawassee sedement and soil
bulletAs of February 2007, both BioTech and Phase Separation have completed this step.
bulletReview results with MDEQ, Dow, EPA, and public
bulletStep 2: Field Demonstration I
bulletMichigan's Cost: up to $200,000
bulletConduct field demonstration on 1-5 acres
bulletReview results with MDEQ, Dow, EPA, and public
bulletStep 3: Process optimization - Feasibility studies
bulletStep 4: Field Demonstration II
bulletMichigan's Cost: up to $500,000
bulletConduct larger/better field demonstration
bulletReview results with MDEQ, Dow, EPA, and public
bulletNext Steps
bulletFinal reports from Biotech and Phase Separation released to public in May 2008
bulletVendor presentation at MDEQ Community Dioxin meeting in May 2008
bulletFinding avenues to move to Field demonstration 1
bulletIdentify additional mature technologies to provide bench-scale trials
bulletEstablish whether there is public support for treatment technologies such as these.

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02/03/08 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update 

MEETING THIS WEEK NOT CANCELLED

 

COME TO THE DEQ MEETING  THURSDAY FEBRUARY 7 AT THE HORIZON CENTER  IT HAS NOT BEEN CANCELLED --SAME TIME 6:30 SAME PLACE ---JUST NO DOW CHEMICAL

 

Thursday Dow Chemical issued a press release that was a bit misleading:  “Joint Dow/MDEQ Dioxin Meeting Canceled”— so read the opening title. As a result of the headline a few news outlets and a number of citizens were left with the impression the quarterly meeting was canceled which it is not. DEQ and EPA will host this meeting. Please plan on attending.  One needed to read the body of the press release where the message  stated the meeting would go on without Dow's participation.  

 

In the company's press release, Dow’s Greg Cochran stated the company felt it was not a good use of time since there was no new information to discuss. I would disagree.

 

bullet Plans or lack there of for the Saginaw River and Bay in the coming year are worthy of Q&A.

 

bullet DEQ’s issuance of yet another Notice of Deficiency to Dow for failure to submit acceptable work on the Saginaw River are worthy of Q&A. 

 

bullet Sampling data on the middle Tittabawassee River is a big deal worthy of discussion

 

bullet The Health Consultation on the Saginaw River and the fish consumption overview by MDCH is an important public health discussion this community needs to have.

 

bullet EPA presence at the meeting and DEQ’s plans to meet one on one with residents to talk about their properties, testing and other issues impacting their backyards, lives and the river system is important.

 

http://www.michigan.gov/documents/deq/deq-whm-hwp-dow-2-7-2008-CommMeeting-Final-agenda_223275_7.pdf

 

 

EPA Meeting Thursday night at SVSU 

 

A great turn out and great presentations on the many issues impacting the Saginaw Bay were presented and discussed at Thursday’s  meeting.  The impairments facing the Bay and Lake Huron are as massive as they are diverse and the public vocalized their impatience for many of these issue, which are decades old (not just dioxin). People called for action from EPA and DEQ and well they should. But restoring the Bay is not free—nothing worth having is free. We cannot have legislators, at the state or federal level, refusing to fund the very agencies whose expertise is needed to clean up this mess. The Michigan legislature will be speaking loud and clear, as will the Governor, in the coming weeks with regard to funding the DEQ. Stay tuned! Show us your budget and we'll see if the Great Lakes and public health are a priority.

 

The second half of the meeting Thursday night was an overview of the extensive dioxin contamination and the work completed in the last year. The most important statement made came from EPA’s Ralph Dollhopf in explaining why EPA Region V ended negotiations with Dow Chemical:

 "I can only emphasize for you, that it would be a travesty for the EPA to do anything that would undermine the progress that has been made to date over the last several months, over the last year, with respect to getting Dow to step up and accept responsibility for its legacy in environmental contamination," he said.

The quote was reported in the Midland Daily News. http://www.ourmidland.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19254420&BRD=2289&PAG=461&dept_id=472542&rfi=6 

DEQ  did a great power point illustrating how contaminated river banks are a constant source of dioxin and furans to the river system and Lake Huron. The agencies are hopeful that as part of an interim response Dow will deliver a final report on the feasibility of sediment traps to help slow down these migrating dioxins. In the meantime the question remains what will be done about the banks that keep feeding this poison to the river?

Addressing head on an issue raised by the Chamber of Commerce, in the recent past, and Thursday night about Dow answering to DEQ or EPA, (echo of Dow’s position they will not serve two masters), EPA was accurate to point out that  by utilizing RCRA and CERCLA, the agencies were able to facilitate the removal of highly contaminated sediments accomplishing more this summer than in thirty years. It’s called progress. Dow Chemical was commended for the progress made last summer making it all the more regrettable that  Dow undermined the summer's progress.

A Midland resident demanded to know from the agencies where the risk assessment was. I would point all of you the TRW web site: click on FOIA documents on the left and go to the DOW HHR Brief 9-07. Perhaps the Midland resident should be asking Dow where the risk assessment is---Would appear by reading this document Dow wants another 3.5 years to complete the human risk assessment and does not wish to use widely accepted scientific practice. Oh- and Dow has already been working on this for 2.5 years.

 One public official commented that stories like the ones that ran in the Free Press serve no purpose. Respectfully disagree--  Public information and an honest airing of regulatory laundry is good for democracy and the role of the media in community right to know  should be lauded and encouraged by all of us. Residents impacted by this contamination are entitled to be heard above Dow's PR spin. These stories are important........the truth may burst a few bubbles, shatter some rose colored corporate glasses or make us uncomfortable but the implications surrounding the  human element caught up in this contamination cannot be denied.

As always please pass this update along. Much appreciate those of you who do.
 
 Best Regards,
 
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council

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02/01/08
EPA: Dow must step up and accept responsibility for it's contamination
(EPA)  Dollhopf said Dow sponsors many events and facilities in the community, and it's time for the company to step up and work to resolve the river to leave a legacy for the people of the area.

    "That's what the citizens of these communities deserve," he said.

 "I can only emphasize for you, that it would be a travesty for the EPA to do anything that would undermine the progress that has been made to date over the last several months, over the last year, with respect to getting Dow to step up and accept responsibility for its legacy in environmental contamination," he said.

Mr. Dolhopf is the Associate Director of the EPA Region 5 Superfund Division.

http://www.ourmidland.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19254420&BRD=2289&PAG=461&dept_id=472542&rfi=6

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01/28/08 FOIA Tidbit

Three new Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents added

bullet Chemicals found in T.River
bulletChemicals to remove from Dow RIWP
bullet Scientists reject chemical rules

Click here for additional documents

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01/25/08 Michigan Court of Appeals  Grants Flood Plain Residents Motion for Class Action Lawsuit

"Based on the findings and reasons set forth above, the Court hereby orders that Plaintiffs’ Motion for Certification as a Class Action be and the same is hereby GRANTED"

Michigan Court of Appeals

Click here to view the entire Michigan Appeals Court opinion

Click here to review all the detail of the case since it was filed in March of 2003

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01/24/08 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

bulletDEQ and EPA working together
bulletFreedom of information
bulletNew York Times circa 1983 Dow memo - anxiety of dioxin in 1965
bulletFearless accountability - a statement from Dow's CEO
bulletThe DMDF (Saginaw River dredge disposal site)

Click here for all the details

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01/20/08 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

bulletEPA hosts meeting on Saginaw Bay Environmental Issues January 31, 2008
bullet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Great Lakes National Program Office will host a meeting to update the public on a variety of environmental issues affecting Michigan’s Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.  The meeting will be held from 7 to 9 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 31.,  at Saginaw Valley University’s Curtiss   Hall, Banquet Rooms A & B, 7400 Bay Rd., University Center, Mich.

Click here for all the details

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01/23/08  43 years later: ????

Below are a few snippets from a New Your Times article published in 1983 discussing 1965 memos about Dow and the EPA's attempt to downplay dioxin health hazards in the public arena.   Currently, Dow and the EPA are going at it again, will history repeat itself?

April 19, 1983

1965 MEMOS SHOW DOW'S ANXIETY ON DIOXIN

Almost 20 years ago, scientists from four rival chemical companies attended a closed meeting at the Dow Chemical Company's headquarters. The subject was the health hazards of dioxin, a toxic contaminant found in a widely used herbicide that the companies manufactured.

Shortly after the meeting, in Midland, Mich., on March 24, 1965, one of those attending wrote in a memorandum that Dow did not want its findings about dioxin made public because the situation might ''explode'' and generate a new wave of government regulation for the chemical industry.

...

''Initially,'' Dr. Legator went on, ''Dow planned on comparing the birth defects among the wives of Dow dioxin workers with two controls. First, a group of wives of Dow workers in Midland who had not been directly exposed to dioxin, and second, some wives of workmen who lived outside the Midland area. This second control group was important because the Midland area is quite polluted and the general population has a relatively high level of congenital abnormalities. But when they published the study the second control group was not included.'' A 'Sampling Problem'

...

The company's repeated public statements about the comparative safety of dioxin, including testimony to Congressional committees, press releases and scientific papers, have been accompanied by efforts on its part, particularly in the Reagan Administration, to block the Government from collecting information about the contaminant.

Evidence of the repeated contacts between Dow and E.P.A. officials in Washington, if not of the subject of the meetings, is contained in the calendars and travel records of these officials that have been obtained by the House subcommittees investigating the agency.

Anne McGill Burford, for example, made at least two trips to Midland, Mich., in her 22 months as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency. Rita M. Lavelle, the former head of the Government program to clean up toxic waste dumps, met at least 14 times with Dow officials in the 11 months she held office.

Mrs. Burford, Miss Lavelle and 11 other political appointees recently resigned or were dismissed amid Congressional inquiries on allegations that the agency's toxic waste program had been mishandled. According to the public testimony of some officials of the agency, Dow used its connections with the top echelon of the agency's Washington officials to get its way on several important matters relating to the regulation of dioxin.

Three weeks ago, for example, agency officials in Chicago told the Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce that their superiors in Washington ordered them to change an important report on dioxin to comply with the wishes of Dow.

The key deletion from the report was the following central conclusion about Dow's Midland plant: ''Dow's discharge represented the major source, if not the only source, of TCDD contamination found in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and Saginaw Bay in Michigan.

Click here to view the entire article

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01/18/08  Check out new FOIA document page

We just added a new Freedom Act (FOIA) document page to our website.  The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal law that gives the public the right to make requests for federal agency records. All federal agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are required to disclose records unless the records are protected from disclosure by certain exemptions. The EPA FOIA Home page will guide you to information about the statute and give you information on submitting a request to the Agency.  For more information about FOIA, visit the EPA FOIA website.   We will post relevant documents on this page as time permits, check back often!

Click here to view

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01/17/08  Tri-Counties Planning Program Suggestion

January 17, 2008

TRW Current News

Subject: Tri-Counties Planning Program

In view of my letter published by the Midland Daily News (January 15, 2008), entitled "Practice environmental regionalism," I propose that the Saginaw Valley Tri-Counties conduct a comprehensive environmental management planning process for the Saginaw Valley Tri-Counties region. I described in the Midland Daily News the approach used by the Erie and Niagara Counties Regional Planning Board, New York, while addressing the international environmental needs of the Niagara River system, which involved a regional environmental framework. This approach has application to all the communities in the Saginaw Valley Tri-Counties region.

The "International Environmental Study," which included the "Niagara River Environmental Plan," emphasized the implications and impact of the Niagara River system on the larger regional framework in terms of tourist-oriented land use concentrations, transportation, environmental health, parks and conservation areas, governmental management and coordination practices, air and water pollution generators and vacant developable land adjacent to the Niagara River and Lakes Ontario and Erie.

The communities have a right to a clean and ecologically balanced environment, free from pollution, degradation and conflicting land and water uses. It is recommended that the environmental planning and management process suggested for the Tri-Counties region include four phases as follows:

bulletPhase I – Organize a planning body and develop a work program for conducting a regional environmental study and plan.
bulletPhase II – Inventory and analyze the various elements directly related to the ecological and physical-visual environment so as to determine the magnitude of the problem.
bulletPhase III – Develop and evaluate alternative solutions to environmental problems and select the most suitable solution or plan.
bulletPhase IV – Develop an implementation program of action designed to carry out the selected solution or plan.

Richard A. Maltby

Midland
---------------
TRW note:

Mr. Maltby recently published Revival of the Tittabawassee, a collection of commentaries, warnings, and actions - Part Two.  As he states in the preface, the book is "a sequel to both the second edition of The Pollution Signature and the four episodes of The Dioxin Story."  All are available in local libraries.

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01/10/08  Dow /EPA negotiations: The past, present, and future

 Defending Dow

 

The Midland Daily News is still defending Dow Chemical's recalcitrant behavior. Admonishing EPA for terminating unproductive negotiations with Dow Chemical  the MDN said:

 

Absent an explanation, we have to assume that the intent of the press release was public relations, an attempt to paint Dow once again in a bad light.

 

1. Dow doesn’t need any help looking bad. A company with their financial, legal and scientific resources has no excuse to cop ignorance of regulatory obligations. They have no excuse to not meet deadlines time and time and time again. They have no right to expect that time and again they can miss deadlines and expect to be granted more time.

 

2. EPA could take lessons from Dow in PR. For MDN to  be critical of EPA's PR tactics after watching Dow use PR for decades to gloss over their responsibility and contamination is a almost laughable.

 

 

The MDN also admonishes EPA for not being transparent. Fair enough but.......One would think it a contradiction in the world of journalism for newspaper to call for transparency ONLY when the hometown corporation is being attacked. Shut the public out, as we have been on so many occasions, and the MDN is silent. Why? Shutting out the public benefits Dow. Now Dow is shut out and the MDN is outraged.

 

http://www.ourmidland.com/site/?brd=2289&pag=461&cat_id=407&newsid=19174879&rfi=16

  

Historical Perspective

 

Others are upset too about EPA terminating negotiations. The Chamber of Commerce and Representative Ken Horn are also upset with EPA. I would agree talking and negotiating are always preferable to a stalemate. Yet  again, how many deadlines to produce does Dow get? Mr. Horn blamed EPA for not taking Dow’s offer and lamented that EPA needs to get serious and make something happen. Mrs. Horn, from the Chamber of Commerce suggested a cooling down period to overcome roadblocks.

 

I would submit both EPA and DEQ have been most serious in addressing this contamination. Dow had a deadline to submit a plan to EPA. They failed to do it! What Dow offered up was not “protective of public health” according to EPA.  

 

The  “cooling down period to overcome roadblocks”, suggested by Mrs. Horn would be buy time for the Chamber of Commerce and anti-DEQ legislators to put their heads together with Dow Chemical and lobby for the easiest and fastest way out of this conundrum…..shopping for a sympathetic political ear perhaps because Dow and the Chamber do not like the regulatory arena.

 

About history being important. I would suggest reading Jack Doyle’s book. TRESPASS AGAINST US, Dow Chemical and the Toxic Century.  It was 1983 when Dow Chemical of Midland Michigan was permitted by the political powers of the day, to edit EPA’s dioxin report. This resulted in Congressional hearings and numerous firings. One line from the report which Dow edited out stated:

 

 Dow Chemical…… has extensively contaminated their facility with PCDDs and PCDF’s and has been the primary contributor to contamination of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and Lake Huron.

 

Anyone else one thinks 25 years of political interference and negotiating with Dow is enough? How many more years will we allow people, wildlife, resources and Lake Huron to play second fiddle to Dow and their multitude of studies, their shopping around for a new format to “ negotiate” in and their deliberate efforts to stonewall.

 

The Saginaw News article: http://blog.mlive.com/saginawnews/2008/01/epa_quits_dioxin_talks.html

 

The Future

 

What happens next is anyone’s guess. Hopefully EPA and DEQ will continue to work together to resolve this long-standing issue. It is imperative  for the agencies to now come forward with a collective and coherent strategy and engage the public. What are your next steps Director Chester and Administrator Gade? Please do not assume we know.

 

There are laws in place and a corrective action license ( RCRA ) signed by Dow Chemical and the State of Michigan. This 'contract' is legal and binding and still in force: (http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3312_4118_4240-53424--,00.html). It took the state 8 years to negotiate this license with Dow. This license in tandem with EPA authority under CERCLA (law used this past summer to compel Dow to expedite hot spot cleanup ) should give us all hope that 2008 will be productive. Sampling will continue to drive this process and both agencies assured the public at the last meeting that there are no plans to back off on the collection of samples.

 

Frankly, I doubt Dow intended to negotiate in good faith with Region V anymore than they intended to abide by their RCRA license, the Framework or the laws of this great state. With negotiations terminated by Region V it should come as no surprise should Dow move up the food chain to EPA in Washington DC and ask for a meeting with Administrator Johnson---whining that the company and their science is just not understood.

 

Given the bad press for Dow lately it’s also about time for them to go into public relations overdrive; something Dow has done for decades in the face of critical media coverage-

 

 

 Documents

 

We will be placing a folder/link on the TRW web page with documents obtained by DEQ and EPA under FOIA. This contamination is the public’s business.

 

DMDF

 

 DEQ still has no slurry wall design plan, the groundwater permits have not been issued and money is still an issue. Meetings are taking place and Dow Chemical is well represented by Jack Bailes ( Lansing Lobbyist) and Dow's outside counsel, Gene Smarey. Long overdue for a public meeting to update the taxpayers and residents on this project.   Visit www.dredgeitright.org for more information

 

Fond Remembrance

 

Michigan lost one of its finest voices and an articulate advocate for the Great Lakes with the passing of Dr. Fred Brown. A retired Dow Chemical employee, Dr. Brown served for many years in many capacities including the Water Resource Commission, founding member and president of Great Lakes United and president of MUCC. He was the consummate conservationist and lover of the Great Lakes. He was advisor to many including the Lone Tree Council. Dr Brown welcomed any and all conversation about water quality and the Great Lakes. He will be sorely missed.

Here's Dr. Brown's obituary:
http://www.legacy.com/ourmidland/Obituaries.asp?Page=LifeStoryPrint&PersonID=100515507

 

 

 

 

Wishing all you of very Happy New Year. All good things to you and to our magnificent Great Lakes!

 

Regards,

 

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

 

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01/04/08  EPA Terminates negotiations with Dow on river cleanup

Maybe there is hope yet.  In our previous update (see 12/22/07 entry below) , the EPA negotiations with Dow seemed to be following a  familiar pattern with a predicted outcome.  Today's EPA Press Release (below) may indicate a fundamental shift in the right direction.  Dow influenced Local and State politicians are preventing the MDEQ and it's hard working staff from accomplishing much more than a few public relations "hotspot" cleanup stunts in a long and protracted process that would take decades to resolve the entire watershed.  In contrast, recent EPA comments indicate they are ready to cut through all the bull and prepared to force Dow to come up with a comprehensive plan that protects human health and the environment.  Only time will tell.

What we need is a cleanup plan that immediately addresses the entire 50 mile river system and the floodplains that surround it.  What's next?  Speculation ( that's all it is at this point since the negotiations are closed to the public) is that the EPA may just hire contractors to perform the necessary cleanup and send the bill to Dow.  We doubt Dow would just roll over and pay, a Federal lawsuit may be in the works and Dow's operating license could be in jeopardy.   We hope it does not come to that, maybe Dow will decide to start to play ball in earnest.
---------

EPA Press Release

Release date: 01/04/2008

Contact Information: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 08-OPA001

(Chicago, Ill. - Jan. 4, 2008) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today stopped its negotiations with Dow Chemical aimed at a settlement to conduct a study and interim cleanup actions for dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River system.

"EPA does not believe that the deal Dow is offering goes far enough," said Ralph Dollhopf, Associate Director for the Superfund Division of EPA's Regional Office in Chicago. "Key issues that are paramount for protecting human health and the environment remain unresolved. EPA simply will not accept any deal that is not comprehensive."

Last October, EPA called for 60 days of negotiations under provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund. Superfund specifies the process in which a remedial investigation and feasibility study must be conducted, as well as the design and execution of a cleanup plan. Last month, EPA extended its Dec.10, 2007, deadline to resolve remaining issues and reach a final agreement.

"I am extremely disappointed with this outcome," said Regional Administrator Mary A. Gade. "EPA approached negotiations with high hopes and realistic expectations. Our team put in many long hours of good faith efforts that came to an unfortunate end today. EPA is now reviewing its options for ensuring that dioxin contamination in the river system and the Midland area can be fully addressed."

The targeted area begins upstream of Dow's Midland, Mich., facility and extends downstream to the Saginaw River, its floodplains and Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron.

Under Superfund, an investigation and study are necessary to evaluate the nature and extent of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants from a site and assess the risks they present to human health and the environment. It would also require that enough data be developed to evaluate a range of cleanup options.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans are 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.

For more information about the cleanup, visit http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical/
 

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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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