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TRW Archives 2008 2nd quarter 04/01/08 - 06/30/08
 

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06/30/08 Fourth book in series on local dioxin pollution released

Richard Maltby of Midland has published a anew book: The Aftermath, Restoration of a Failed Ecosystem

From the author:

"This is the fourth edition of a series of my books of the pollution of the Tittabawassee River and environs, and the dioxin-contaminated community of Midland and floodplain by the Dow Chemical Company.  My previous edition include the Pollution Signature, The Dioxin Story, and Revival of the Tittabawassee.  As noted in this edition, concern is with the restoration of a failed ecosystem brought on by the Down Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan."

Copies are available in local libraries

Mr. Maltby  a retired professional urban and environmental resource planner  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. 

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06/22/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update: Slurry Pit Update

A public meeting regarding the Operational Management Plan (OMP) for the Upper Saginaw River Dredged Materials Disposal Facility is planned for June 24, 2008. The OMP is on www.Dredgeitright.org site. The meeting will be held at Curtis Hall SVSU campus starting at 7pm.
 

Other Topics:

bullet Last week several of us met with the Lieutenant Governor who intervened in the slurry pit debate between the DEQ and the Corp. Mr. Cherry stated, as has DEQ management, that the Corp of Engineers claimed “ sovereign immunity”, i.e. we are above the laws of the state of Michigan.
bullet On January 28th Jim Koski pulled his application for groundwater permits required under Part 22. The next day Jim Koski, notified MDEQ that Dow Chemical pulled funding for the slurry wall.
bullet Without Dow the strategy had to change. So the Corp submitted a study, paid for by Dow, which said a slurry wall was not needed
bullet Will James, Saginaw, Thomas or Tittabawassee Twp be the recipient of a slurry pit too? Page 6 of the Framework agreement says Dow can construct a facility like the one on the Saginaw River for their cleanup along the Tittabawassee River.
bulletThe Lieutenant Governor believed Dow over his agency (DEQ). Who would you believe?
bulletOpinion of Dow contractor Environ (paid for by Dow) on why the DMDF is safe without a slurry wall. READ MORE
bulletDEQ response stating why the Environ opinion is in error and why the DMDF does need a slurry wall. READ MORE

Click here for all the details or here for Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003

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06/01/08 Lone Tree Council / CACC Anniversary presentation by Dave Dempsey

Congratulations to the Lone Tree Council and CACC for 30 years of defending Michigan's environment!  A celebration held today was enjoyed by a group of almost 100 members and friends, and was honored with guest speaker, and Great Lakes author, Dave Dempsey.  

 

 

Dave is a former Policy Advisor for the Michigan Environmental Council, former Environmental Advisor to Governor Jim Blanchard and was appointed to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission by President Bill Clinton. 

His insightful speech (see link below) touched on  many points critical to restoring the one of a kind environment enjoyed by so many living in Michigan.  Below are a number of excerpts,  please read the entire speech, solutions are offered!
 

bullet"We have begun, I believe, to allow the Great Lakes to be converted to a product. And this we must never do."
bullet"Do we really want water to be subject to the same erratic, exploitative control and pricing that petroleum is subject to Imagine a 20 cent per gallon price rise in one day for water. It wouldn’t be a mere inconvenience – it could kill.

        Water is different.
        Water has a spiritual value.

       
Water is life. 

        I want Michigan to be the last best defender of fresh water. If not us, who? If not now, when? "

bullet"In short, looking at Michigan conservation and environmental policy from the outside in, I’ve come to the conclusion that the system is broken. That is, the problem is systemic. It’s not just Dow, or Whirlpool, or Meijer, or 100 other examples. It’s a systemic problem that will require a systemic solution. Or several of them. This is where I want to propose a new road for us to take."

Let’s look at the system as a whole – and let’s fix it.

        Let’s fix the campaign finance system.

        Let’s fix Michigan’s judicial system.

        Let’s fix the environmental decision making system.

        Let’s fix the economic system.

The speech contains all of the details between the bullet points above.  In our opinion, one of the most critical issues brought up was the urgent need to take back our Michigan Supreme Court.  As Dave put it,

"We don’t have a Supreme Court anymore, we have a Supreme Corporation"

"This year, one of the principal architects of a series of dangerous rulings, Clifford Taylor, is up for re-election to an eight-year term. If fixing the campaign finance system or the method of choosing Supreme Court justices seems too big a mission for you, I recommend one simple thing: vote Clifford Taylor out of office. That’s one step toward righting the balance of the public and the private interest."

Click here to to view the speech.

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06/01/08 EPA responds: Chamber of Commerce statements have little factual basis

As posted in the Saginaw News "My View" column Saturday June 1, 2008

Assumptions without research lead to misinformation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shares the view recently expressed in these pages by Bob Van Deventer of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce that protecting the health and safety of residents in the Saginaw Valley environment is a top priority.

However, Van Deventer's presentation of the issues concerning dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River system leaves out several important details.

Van Deventer claims that "not one individual has ever been ill because of the effects of furans/dioxins" in the river. This is a striking oversimplification. To EPA's knowledge, no specific study has ever been conducted that supports this statement.

Certainly, in the case of dioxin, delaying action until people actually suffer clinical health effects would be irresponsible.

Considerable evidence shows that adverse health effects are possible and may begin to occur when individuals are exposed at levels not much higher than those expected for the general population. Also, available data show elevated dioxin levels in soils near many private homes as well as in local game and fish in the Saginaw Valley.

Another Van Deventer claim, that "wildlife along the Tittabawassee River is flourishing," has little factual basis. The EPA has never received a work plan for an ecological risk assessment by Dow or Michigan State University researchers that meets the agency's baseline requirements. Furthermore, the MSU wildlife studies to date have not undergone peer review.

Finally, in discussing the University of Michigan's preliminary results from its dioxin exposure study, Van Deventer states that it "clearly showed very little difference in dioxin blood levels" between Tittabawassee River floodplain residents and a test group not living in the area. Again, the U-M study has yet to be fully peer-reviewed.

To conclude anything definitive at this early date would seem to be an attempt to limit further discussion. A final report is not expected until late this year at the earliest.

The studies under way clearly demand the full scrutiny of the scientific and academic communities. The agencies also fully support the concept of new, additional studies of human and ecological health in the area by qualified researchers. To do anything less is to short-change the residents and the health of the Saginaw Valley.

Mario M. Mangino is a toxicologist with the U.S. Environmental Agency's Region 5 in Chicago.

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06/1/08 EPA: Agencies consider downstream effect of river restoration

As posted in the Saginaw News "My View" column Saturday June 1, 2008, 2-3 months after it was submitted in response to Horn's My View article of 2/29/08
-----

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agrees with state Rep. Kenneth B. Horn that all parties with a vested interest in cleaning up the pervasive, long-standing dioxin and furan contamination in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers should work together to resolve this complex problem.

The residents who live along these valuable natural resources have been waiting for decades and deserve to finally see real action.

The EPA is working closely with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to accelerate the process and help bolster the state's efforts to compel Dow Chemical Co. to clean up the Tittabawassee River.

To be accountable to the public we serve, the EPA must also provide clarity, context and, in a few instances, corrections regarding some issues that were recently raised by Horn in these pages.

In 2006, Dow assured the DEQ that it would clean up three highly contaminated sections of the Tittabawassee River, but in 2007 the company indicated it would not finish by the end of the year. When Dow proposed two more years to finish work on the section near its Midland facility and made no plan to clean up the section six miles downriver, the EPA exercised its authority under Superfund and ordered Dow to complete all three cleanups simultaneously in 2007.

It is important to note that the DEQ and Dow were already planning to remove dioxin-contaminated soil along the 1,600-foot section three miles downriver from Dow's plant before the EPA got involved.

The plan called for Dow to engineer the riverbank to minimize future erosion. The goal was to allow the river to expand up the bank and reduce its energy during high flow periods.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also provided expert opinion, and its recommendations were incorporated into the work plan. The EPA's order ensured that the work got done.

Horn made the point that "lots of rip-rap" should be used to keep the banks from eroding.

While the EPA agrees that using some rip-rap is warranted, overuse may concentrate the river's energy and cause problems for communities downriver.

The EPA and the DEQ recognize that extensive work needs to be done to stabilize rapidly eroding riverbanks. However, neither agency considers lining the river with rip-rap an acceptable solution.

It is also necessary to clarify that as a matter of fact, 300 majestic, 100-year-old oak trees were not ripped from the ground during the cleanup.

According to Dow's tree inventory, only three of the 419 trees cut down were oaks. The rest were fast-growing and short-lived cottonwoods and ashes, generally considered to be less desirable. It is highly unlikely that many of them were 100 years old since most were small in diameter indicating relatively young ages.

Certainly, the EPA realizes it is unfortunate that even one tree was cut down, and that is why Dow was required to plant 430 new trees.

The Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that Dow replace the trees with a greater variety of native species because diversity makes the area less susceptible to blight or infestation.

Dow also replaced groundcover in the area with native grasses, an improvement requested by the Natural Resource Trustees.

The EPA could not agree more with Horn that future work should be accomplished in a way that does the least damage possible to the natural beauty of the rivers. The EPA and the DEQ are working together to make sure that even greater care is taken in the future to protect existing vegetation and, when possible, enhance the habitat with natural bank stabilization methods.

Ralph Dollhopf is associate director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5 Superfund Division in Chicago.

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05/29/08 EPA to seek immediate cleanup of dioxin in riverside residential neighborhood

"One sample of household dust had dioxin levels of 3,000 parts per trillion, three times more than the federal cleanup standard. Levels in the yards were as high as 23,000 parts per trillion and averaged 2,000 parts per trillion."

bulletChicago Tribune article
bulletDetroit Free Press article
bulletEPA Press release (below)

EPA to seek immediate cleanup of dioxin contamination in riverside residential area

Release date: 05/28/2008

Contact Information: Kren Thompson, 312-353-8547, thompson.karen@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 08-OPA097

CHICAGO (May 28, 2008) - Officials from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Community Health met with residents of the Riverside Boulevard neighborhood in Saginaw last night to discuss results of recent sampling of dioxin-contaminated soil in the area.

Soil from residential properties in an area along the Lower Tittabawassee River was recently sampled and analyzed by EPA and evaluated in collaboration with MDEQ and health officials. While final data is still coming in, preliminary results show properties with unacceptably high levels of dioxin contamination.

EPA has notified Dow Chemical Co. of the situation and will meet with the company and MDEQ to discuss potential response actions. EPA and Dow successfully negotiated the terms of four hot spot cleanup projects implemented by Dow on the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers downstream of its Midland, Mich., facility last year.

"This cleanup is a high priority as this dioxin contamination is in a residential neighborhood," said EPA Region 5 Superfund Division Director Richard Karl. "We will continue to work with the state agencies to evaluate results of sampling from other residential areas and consider appropriate actions.

The recent sampling project was prompted by Dow's February 2008 disclosure to the agencies of an elevated dioxin level found in a residential soil sample collected by Dow in November 2007. Under the company's Michigan operating license which requires Dow to conduct corrective action for historic releases, MDEQ has been requiring Dow to conduct floodplain soil, riverbank and sediment sampling in and along the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland.

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, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.
 

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05/25/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update: CACC/Lone Tree Council 30 year celebration

Please take time to join us for this very important anniversary and celebration of thirty years of dedication to public health and the resources of the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Tickets can be purchased at the door  but I need you to RSVP to me about your intentions to attend the celebration.

 

Join us in welcoming the man who knows the most about these Great Lakes, accomplished writer, author, friend and educator Dave Dempsey, who graciously agreed to be our honored guest and speaker for the celebration. Dave is a former Policy Advisor for the Michigan Environmental Council, former Environmental Advisor to Governor Jim Blanchard and was appointed to the Great Lakes Fishery Commission by President Bill Clinton. 

 

Good food, music and so many reasons to celebrate. Please lend you voice and blend your voice in support of thirty years of commitment  to many more years to come. I look forward to hearing from you. We remain committed  to fighting for the water and resources of the Saginaw Bay Watershed and this state. Please join as we plan our future course.

 

Best always,

 

Michelle Hurd Riddick

 

bullet DAVE DEMPSEY TO SPEAK AT CACC/LONE TREE COUNCIL 30TH ANNIVERSARY

Click here for all the details or here for Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003

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05/23/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update: Slurry Pit Update

“The DEQ admits that the flood actually occurred, but displacing 1.7 million cubic yards of floodwater won't matter. It did matter. Floodwaters receded as soon as the railroad grade gave way, draining the homes of water.

Given the relatively flat topography of the Saginaw Valley, the equivalent of 14 Pontiac Silverdome-sized swimming pools 4-feet-3-inches deep has to find someplace to go: Your house. Don't worry; the Federal Emergency Management Agency will take care of us. The FEMA permit required was never approved.
 

Topics:

bullet The Slurry Pit on the Saginaw River
bullet Our own one of a kind slurry pit
bullet Crap shoot placing groundwater monitors
 

Click here for all the details or here for Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003

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05/21/08  UM dioxin study data misleading in the wrong hands

As posted in the Saginaw News My View column May 29th 2008 by Greg Holzman, chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing.

My View: Completeness of dioxin studies spurs concern

Posted by Greg Holzman May 20, 2008 13:21PM

The Michigan Department of Community Health has taken an active role evaluating dioxin contamination in Midland and along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers. Our goal is to provide accurate health information so people can make informed decisions to protect themselves and their families.

We know high levels of dioxin are found in soil and river sediments in this area and the contamination moves into fish and wild game. We know that fish and wild game from the area contain dioxin at levels much higher than grocery store food.

Dioxins and furans can be harmful to health. We can't say whether anyone has ever become ill as a result of dioxin contamination in the Midland and Saginaw areas. Fact is, we don't know.

Most medical doctors do not have the training or resources to evaluate chemical exposures.

So it is unlikely that a visit to the doctor's office would trigger dioxin blood tests. Such tests are expensive and medical insurance does not pay for them. A dioxin blood test would not help determine the best medical treatment. Dioxins build up and stay in a person's body for a long time, and no medical treatment is available to remove them.

The University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study is a groundbreaking study of dioxin levels in the blood of Michigan residents. The study, however, did not study whether people have become ill as a result of the dioxins in their bodies.

The department is concerned that people who may have the highest exposure to dioxins in the Midland and Saginaw areas were not part of the study. We are concerned that citizens will think that fish and wildlife are safe to eat because of the way some data are presented.

Only a small number of people in the study ate fish from area rivers and most ate only a few meals per year of fish with lower levels of dioxins. A handful of people said they eat the more highly dioxin-contaminated fish, such as catfish. Department surveys show that some people are eating more fish than the study participants reported. Many people eat the highly contaminated fish that the department recommends no one eat.

About 14 study properties in the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River showed dioxin soil concentrations exceeding 1,000 parts per trillion. Most of the study's soil samples were less than Michigan's 90 parts per trillion cleanup standard. Yet the results of soil sampling conducted by Dow Chemical Co., the Department of Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency reveal dioxin concentrations greater than 1,000 parts per trillion, with levels even in the tens of thousands.

Though the answers to these public health questions are important to people who live in the dioxin contaminated areas, they are not readily available. Public health and other government officials can best serve the public by stating the facts accurately and by providing people with the information they need to make good choices.

Together, we can prevent exposures to dioxins before they cause harm to our citizens' health.

Greg Holzman is chief medical executive of the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing.
 

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05/21/08  Environment Report on NPR:  Living downstream from Dow Chemical

Recent spot on on NPR from the Environment Report features local residents

LIVING DOWNSTREAM FROM DOW CHEMICAL
Vincent Duffy, the
May 19, 2008

It’s been more than 50 years since Dow Chemical Company stopped dumping dioxin into the river flowing past its plant in Michigan. But the company and government regulators are still arguing over how to clean it up.

 

Click here to view transcript or here to listen on line.

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05/18/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update:

bulletEnhanced Wild Game Advisory
bullet Last week MDCH, MDEQ and DNR added to and extended the range for wild game consumption along these contaminated rivers. Several game were added and the advisory was extended to include the Saginaw River. Children and women of childbearing age are targeted most frequently in the advisory.
bulletDEQ/Dow quarterly meeting
bullet Dow’s paid consultants and employees utilized a great deal of time going to the microphone to challenge MDEQ and MDCH on their science.
bulletA few medial observations about Mary Gade being fired
bullet Dow’s influence across all levels of government is palpable.
bulletDow share holders meeting 5/15/08
bullet Andrew Liveris, having his own schizophrenic moment of disconnect blew off the dioxin contamination down river from corporate headquarters.

Click here for all the details or here for Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003

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05/14/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update: Dow Share holder meeting

bulletTough Sister Act 
bulletOnce again the Sisters of Mercy carry a resolution to the shareholders of Dow Chemical  insisting the chemical giant be transparent and forthcoming. Stay tuned for VOTE #4 from the Dow Chemical Annual General Meeting tomorrow. Last year the Sisters of Mercy resolution carried an unprecedented 23% of the shareholders on their resolution.
bullet Click here to read their resolution
bulletDow CEO Liveris a Coward
bulletBelow are the comments given by MEC's Pam Pugh Smith to Andrew Liveris, CEO of Dow Chemical during the share holder meeting. Pam made these poignant comments during the public comment period  of the annual Dow shareholders meeting. Of course the web cast is  turned off for the public comment period because for Dow  'corporate accountability' is an oxymoron.

Pam Pugh Smith

Michigan Environmental Council

Address to the Dow Chemical AGM

Thursday, May 15th 2008

Midland, MI

 

Good morning. My name is Pamela Pugh Smith and I am a board member of the Michigan Environmental Council, a coalition of 70 statewide watershed conservation, public health and environmental organizations.  I appreciate the opportunity to address you today. My primary work with the MEC is centered on Environmental Justice.

 

As you know, dioxin contaminates 52 miles of river and the Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron, our second largest Great Lake. The magnitude of this contamination cannot be understated because it truly impacts our communities. MDCH issued enhanced fish consumption advisories this past summer… augmenting the advisories in place since 1978 when dioxins were first found in Walleye. But walleye are not the only fish taken from these rivers. The MDCH fish survey found a disproportionate number of African Americans eating the most highly contaminated bottom eating fish, mainly cat fish and carp, from these rivers.  Dioxin and furans are persistent organic pollutants whose impact on developing babies, children and women of childbearing age are well documented.  In addition to families being exposed through eating this protein source, children are exposed to contaminated sediments as they fish from this God-given resource. In the summer you can find people fishing from the banks of the river, only yards away from the spot thought to contain the nations highest levels of dioxin,---1.6 million ppt.

 

This contamination demands that we honestly confront the substantive issue of people who eat these fish to subsist. This is a moral and ethical issue and there are huge public health and economic justifications for cleaning up our rivers. Until that time, it is a danger for the public to be subject to constant debate over the science provided by regulatory agencies which is aimed at protecting the health of vulnerable citizens.

 

Finally, Mr. Liveris I pose the question to you, is Dow Chemical of the belief that it is OK for children and women of childbearing age to consume fish contaminated with dioxin and furans?
bullet

In response to Pam's closing question to Mr. Liveris, he stated: " The science is in, I have answered that question". No he didn't. Coward.

bullet

Not sure just how nasty the fish would be have to be before it’s a problem for  Mr. Liveris  but you can bet the CEO isn’t feeding local fish to his grandchildren. It’s clearer than ever that Dow wants to define the parameters of their goodwill and accountability. Only their science is relevant, and they will define whose water is important, what clean water is and who in the Human Element matters.  
bullet

 Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council  

bullet

The outcome:  22% in favor to Sister of Mercy resolution
bullet

More than 22% of Dow's voting shareholders voted to urge the company to report on progress to clean up a massive contamination site at Dow's mid-Michigan global headquarters.

bullet

When more than 22% of Dow's 939 million shares voted for more transparency and action on this issue, the company should take notice," said Sanford Lewis, attorney, who drafted the resolution.  "The company has appeared in a series of high profile negative media stories related to the contamination.  The reputational damage to the company is significant, and suggests a resolution to this issue is long overdue."

bullet

Click here for the details

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05/13/08 State releases new wild game dioxin advisories

As reported on WEYI TV, "Three state agencies recently announced their response and concerns regarding Dow Chemical Company study reports on wild game. In 2004, Dow evaluated concentrations of dioxins in wild game living in the Tittabawassee River floodplain downstream from the city of Midland. In 2007, Dow conducted additional studies in the Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River floodplains.

The Michigan Departments of Community Health, Environmental Quality and Natural Resources said samples of wild game taken from the floodplains in 2007 confirm high levels of dioxin and dioxin like compounds in muscle meats, skin and other consumable portions of animals. High levels of dioxins previously found in game taken along the Tittabawassee River had prompted a 2004 Health Advisory for whitetail deer, turkey, and squirrel.   ..."

 

- Do not eat the liver from deer harvested in or near the Tittabawassee River floodplain downstream of Midland. Eating liver taken from deer harvested in the flood plain of the Saginaw River is not likely to result in adverse health effects.

- Limit consumption of muscle meat from deer harvested in or near the floodplain of the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland and in or near the floodplain of the Saginaw River. Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should eat only one meal of deer muscle meat harvested in the floodplains per week. Trimming any visible fat will lower the level of dioxins in the cooked meat.

- Do not eat turkey harvested in or near the floodplain of the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland. While MDCH advises that you not eat turkey taken from this area, at a minimum the skin, liver and gizzard should be removed and discarded.

- Limit consumption of squirrel harvested in or near the floodplain of the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland. Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should eat only one meal of squirrel from this area per week.

- Do not eat the skin of Canada goose or wood duck harvested in or near the floodplain of the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland and in or near the floodplain of the Saginaw River. MDCH recommends that you remove the skin of waterfowl before cooking and discard the liver and other internal organs.

Click here to view the entire article

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05/07/08 TRW Press Release: Request federal legislators investigate Gade firing

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE MAY 6 2008

Contacts:

Carol Chisholm 989-790-4836, Cell 860-3510
John Taylor 989-781-2950
Kathy Henry 989-401-1762
Pat Bradt- 989-753-6036

IMPACTED RESIDENTS WANT ANSWERS ABOUT FIRING OF ADMINISTRATOR GADE

Residents living on rivers contaminated with Dow dioxin call on their legislators for answers

Letters were sent today to Saginaw Bay Watershed’s federal legislative delegation calling upon them to initiate investigations into the firing last week of Region V Administrator Mary Gade. Residents living along the highly contaminated Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers are some of the watersheds most

impacted residents as a result of the chemical companies releases to the river.

Administrator Gade told the Chicago Tribune she was fired because of aggressive enforcement against Dow Chemical for their dioxin contamination. Beginning last spring Region V issued orders under CERCLA demanding Dow Chemical initiate cleanup of some the highest concentrations of dioxin in the nation. " There is no doubt in our minds that Ms Gade is gone because she dared challenge Dow Chemical" said John Taylor who has high dioxin levels on his property. " We want answers. We didn’t always agree with Ms. Gade, but we found her sincere and concerned about the well being of river residents."

Most recently Region V initiated an investigation and soils sampling along a stretch of homes where high levels of dioxin were found. " Residents are calling on our Congressman and Senators to get to the bottom of Ms Gade’s dismissal ", said Pat Bradt a Saginaw River resident. In their letter to elected officials, residents have said enough is enough. " We have watched Dow manipulate legislators, local officials and the Governor in Michigan for too many years". They are now apparently calling the shots at the federal level and we want to know why?

Tittabawassee River resident, Carol Chisholm, said residents are tired of the decision-making going on behind closed doors and political wrangling that denies them a legitimate voice and hinders cleanup. " We pay tax-dollars and expect those agencies who work for us to respond. We deserve a reason and rationale for why the administrator is gone. She made good things happen. We want to know how our elected officials feel about Ms. Gade being canned".

Letters were faxed yesterday and residents are hoping their plea does not fall on deaf ears in Washington. Visit www.trwnews.net to track the response

Letter to delegation attached:

 

The Honorable Carl Levin
United States Senator
FX: 202-224-1388

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow
United States Senator
202) 228-0325

The Honorable Dale Kildee
United States Congressman
FX: 202-225-6393

The Honorable Bart Stupak
United States Congressman
FX: (202) 225 4744

The Honorable Dave Camp
United States Congressman
FX: (202) 225-9679

May 6, 2008

Dear Senators Levin and Stabenow, Congressmen Kildee, Stupak and Camp;

As property owners of the Tittabawassee/Saginaw River's floodplains, we were shocked, and extremely disappointed to hear of Region 5 EPA Administrator Mary Gade's resignation.

Particularly because she cited the Dow Chemical dioxin clean up here in Michigan as the reason for her dismissal.

Under Ms. Gade’s guidance, EPA finally seemed to be on the right tract after decades of inaction in addressing the Saginaw Bay watershed's dioxin contamination brought on from over a century of Dow polluting our communities and watershed.

We have literally had no voice in Dow contaminating our homes, land, and bodies from local, state and federal government, and community leaders, until Ms. Gade stepped up to the plate. Her actions gave us hope for a better future.

What's become of this country when politicians cast aside concern for residents health and well being that are living in the highest level of dioxin contamination ever recorded in this country? Higher levels than Love Canal and Times Beach, Missouri. Not to mention that this is the Great Lakes, and Lake Huron where the contamination continues to spread further with each year of inaction.

We have been warned by regulators not to eat many of the fish and wild life, and to wear dust masks when mowing our yards because of Dow’s dioxin. We have also been advised not to let our children and grand children play in contaminated areas, in other words, our yards, because of the extremely high levels found here.

Enough is enough.

We plead to all of you to investigate and make right the forced resignation of Mary Gade by our federal government. It seems the only concern until Ms. Gade's authority has been for the polluters. That is unacceptable, outrageous, and a very sad statement and outlook on what the politics of this country have become.

Sincerely,

John Taylor
Thomas Twp

Kathy Henry
Tittabawassee Twp

Carol Chisholm
Saginaw Twp

Pat Bradt
Zilwaukee Twp ( Saginaw River resident)

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05/06/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update: MDEQ meeting Wednesday

DEQ Dioxin Quarterly Meeting is this Wednesday May 7th at Horizon Conference Center beginning at 6:30.

    Agenda items for the meeting include:

bulletA summary of Dow's 2007 sampling data for the middle Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay
bulletA brief overview of the fish and wild game advisory By MDCH
bulletA summary of the U.S. EPA' s recent residential sampling activities
bulletA summary of the interim response activities that the DEQ is requiring Dow to conduct during the 2008 field season
bulletNatural Resource Damage Assessment
Click here for all the details or here for Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003

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05/06/08 Who fired Mary Gade?  Interesting tidbits

Stephen Johnson, The Environment’s Alberto Gonzales

It has become clear that EPA Administrator Johnson has subverted the agency's mission to be an independent watchdog for the health of the environment and the American people, in contravention of science, ethics, and the law. What former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales did to the Justice Department, Johnson is doing to the EPA.

http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/2008/04/24/stephen-johnson-gonzales/

Shades Of U.S. Attorney Scandal: Top EPA Official Forced Out By Political Appointees
It seems the EPA is following the Department of Justice’s efforts to rid itself of staffers who are not “loyal Bushies” with the dismissal of EPA Region V Administrator Mary Gade. Gade in 2000 was a top Bush environmental adviser who argued “I believe Governor Bush in two terms has put together a stronger bipartisan record on conservation and the environment than Al Gore has in twenty-plus years in Washington, D.C., precisely because Bush puts action and results above talk and posture.”
http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/2008/05/01/mary-gade-firing/

Former EPA Official: Gade’s Firing Is ‘Unprecedented And Highly Irregular’
Robert M. Sussman, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Deputy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, calls Mary Gade "one of the most seasoned and experienced environmental policy-makers in the country" and says, "To remove a Regional Administrator because of a disagreement over policy at an individual site is unheard of."
http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/2008/05/02/sussman-gade-firing/

VIDEO: Sen. Whitehouse Compares EPA Firing To U.S. Attorney Scandal: ‘Dj Vu All Over Again’
On the Senate floor, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) says, "Today it seems that the Bush Administration might have once again removed a highly qualified and well-regarded official whose only misstep was to disagree with the political bosses." He also announced that a Senate hearing on Wednesday, May 7 will look into politicization of the EPA and the Gade firing. Rep. Dingell (D-MI) and Sen. Durbin (D-MI) also announced their concern with the firing.
http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/2008/05/02/whitehouse-gade-deja-vu/

Who Fired Mary Gade?

Gade told the Chicago Tribune two political appointees under EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson pressured her on the Dow case and then forced her out the door. The most likely suspects are Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock and Assistant Administrator Luis Luna.
http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/2008/05/03/who-fired-gade/

 Dow’s Toxic Legacy Of EPA Corruption

In 1983, a dioxin-laced scandal involving the very same Dow Chemical plant at their Midland, Michigan headquarters led to a dramatic shakeup of Reagan’s EPA, when Mary Gade was a young staffer at the agency. A congressional investigation exposed the extent of Dow Chemical’s influence over the EPA, leading to the dismissal of EPA Administrator Anne McGill Burford and 12 other officials.

http://thinkprogress.org/wonkroom/2008/05/02/dow-dioxin-scandals/

Source:

 Brad Johnson
Research Associate
Center for American Progress
1333 H Street, NW Fl 10
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 682 1611 x358
bjohnson@americanprogress.org 

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05/03/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update

The politicization of Dow Chemical's dioxin contamination needs a thorough vetting at all levels of government. Gade's firing is right on the heels of a  senate committee which is reviewing a report that says the Bush administration is hampering the ability of Environmental Protection Agency scientists to assess the health dangers of toxic chemicals.
 
bullet Senate Hearings to be held next week on firing of Region V Administrator
bullet
DETROIT NEWS:   Dingell to probe why EPA official leaving job
bullet
WALL STREET JOURNAL: EPA Regional Chief Resigns After Dispute
 "She declined to specify what she and her superiors had disagreed about but added that ordinary citizens "should be concerned" because "this may be some of the worst dioxin contamination" in the U.S."  
 
Click here for all the details or here for Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003

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05/02/08 Senate to conduct oversight hearing on firing of Gade

Sen. Whitehouse Compares Gade Firing to US Attorneys Scandal

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D Rhode Island) will be leading an oversight hearing into the politicization of the EPA and the circumstances surrounding Gade’s dismissal next Wednesday.

Click here to view Youtube video of his C-Span 2 speech.

Additional information can be found at
   http://thinkprogress.org/2008/05/02/epa-politicization-gonzo/


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05/01/08 EPA top Midwest administrator forced out by Bush because of enforcing Dow cleanup
    Lone Tree Council / TRW Update

Mary Gade,  based in Chicago, says Bush administration made her quit over Dow Chemical case

 Tribune reporter  May 1, 2008


The Bush administration forced its top environmental regulator in the Midwest to quit Thursday after months of internal bickering about dioxin contamination downstream from Dow Chemical's world headquarters in Michigan.

    snip: For the past year, Gade has been locked in a heated dispute with Dow about long-delayed plans to clean up dioxin-saturated soil and sediment that extends 50 miles beyond its Midland, Mich., plant into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.

    snip: Though regional EPA administrators typically have wide latitude to enforce environmental laws, Gade drew fire from officials in Washington last month after she sent contractors to test soil in a Saginaw neighborhood where Dow had found high dioxin levels.

    snip:"There is no question this is about Dow," Gade said. "I stand behind what I did and what my staff did. I'm proud of what we did."

 http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/green/chi-epa-official-resigns_webmay02,0,4655733.story

---- 

 Make no mistake good people of the Saginaw Bay Watershed, Mary Gade was a great asset to the region and to the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

 Harken back to the 1980's and Dow interference with EPA.  For months now Dow has been reaching out to EPA headquarters shopping around for a better deal, a quick-out or an  opportunity to skirt the law. Same thing they've been doing for thirty plus years.

 

Looking forward to the ongoing investigative story by the Tribune. Go to the link and watch the video clip of Joy and Lloyd Cooper who live on the Tittabawassee River in the neighborhood that drew Mary Gade so much fire.

 

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council  

 

Click here to view the entire Dioxin Update 

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05/01/08 Decision on slurry pit could threaten Major Great Lakes watershed
    Lone Tree Council / TRW Update

 

Lt. Governor Cherry’s slurry pit decision in conflict with MDEQ technical staff and CDC

 

Today Lieutenant Governor John Cherry intervened in a regulatory process, overriding regulations and the advice of his department, the MDEQ, to allow the continued construction of a slurry pit to house dioxin-laden sediments, without providing for adequate controls. 
 
The decision comes on the heels of  a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announcement yesterday that it intends to investigate the impact of toxic chemicals like dioxin on the health of people living in the Saginaw Bay watershed and other Great Lakes’ regions. A preliminary report from the CDC found that health could be at risk.( see link below).

The Lt. Governor’s intervention comes after a three-year process of review and construction in which the MDEQ carefully evaluated the facility and made the case for a slurry wall (a protective barrier to prevent dioxin-laden waste from entering the environment) and a groundwater permit in order to improve the facility and protect the resources of the state.  The facility will house highly contaminated dioxin-laden sediments as a result of Dow Chemical Company’s operations over the last century. Two weeks ago the director of the MDEQ, Stephen Chester, was resolved to require both the slurry wall and groundwater permit before the site operated.  Then the Lt. Governor was asked to become involved.

“This is clearly and wrongly political intervention at its worse in the regulatory process,” said Lone Tree Council’s Michelle Hurd Riddick. “Why do we have regulations, permits, laws, and research if elected officials can just step in for political expediency. " How does this ailing Saginaw Bay Watershed, recover when such foolish and irresponsible decisions continue to made".  
 
Instead of heeding the advice of his own DEQ’s research documenting the need for a slurry wall, the Lt. Governor chose to rely on a study paid for by the Dow Chemical Company and done by a Dow contractor without peer-review, DEQ, or public comment. It is the position of residents and environmentalists that Dow will insist they be held to no more stringent standards should they construct a site on the Tittabawassee
River.  The precedent is huge.  
 
It was also decided that ground water permits would not be needed, despite concerns by DEQ staff that the unlined structure could potentially threaten groundwater and the wells of residents dependent upon them.  Also, the threshold for dioxin to place in the site is 1 million ppt, that is more than 100,000 times higher than the state’s standard for what is allowed in residential areas in Michigan.  
 
“These are bad decisions that set a worse precedent,” said Rita Jack of the Sierra Club.  “We could see these unlined, un-permitted, hole-in-the-ground-solutions threatening our water throughout the Great Lakes – that is unacceptable.”
 
 The facility is strongly opposed by area residents and environmentalists as risky and ill planned.  Located in a floodplain, on productive farmland, adjacent to the river and the Crow Island State Game Area, and next to the yards of residents of Frankenlust and Zilwaukee Townships, the facility still does not have an operation and management plan.  Environmentalists have urged the Governor’s office and area officials to purse other locations
and options that do not threaten the largest watershed in Michigan. 
 
Despite the controversy surrounding the facility, and letters from the Zilwaukee Township clerk, Frankenlust Township supervisor, and Dr. Neil Varner,  Medical Director of Saginaw County Department of Health, requesting a transparent and open discussion, decisions were limited to the Army Corps of Engineers, DEQ, and Lt. Governor. The Lt. Governor all but ignored a request to meet with twp officials where the site is located.    “The Lt. Governor has known from the outset that this was a highly controversial facility,” said Pat Bradt, Zilwaukee Township clerk.  “He could have shown leadership by pursuing real alternatives that don’t jeopardize the health of residents or the watershed.  Instead he is pursuing a disastrous plan that will continue to haunt this community for decades.”   
  

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/grtlakes/

Click here to view the entire Dioxin Update 

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05/01/08 Dr. Varner, Medical Director Saginaw Count Health Department speaks out on Dredge pit
    Lone Tree Council / TRW Update
 

Special thanks to Dr. Varner, Medical Director Saginaw County Health Department

 

Earlier this week, Dr. Varner sent a letter to the Lt. Governor asking him to proceed with caution in making any decision on the dredge pit. I liked this statement best:

It appears that the local decisions are being displaced from a community-wide ones to political ones.... a method that will be unlikely to serve any good long term solution..

Here's Dr. Varner's entire letter:

 -------

April 30, 2008

 

Honorable Lt. Governor John D Cherry Jr:

 

     Recent activities surrounding a toxic waste disposal site in Zilwaukee Township has prompted  public concern and even letters from Ms Patricia Brandt, Clerk of Zilwaukee Township regarding the wisdom and safety of current site and precautionary safety measures that appear to be lacking in the current plan and design.
 

     History can teach us valuable lessons .  We need only look back at the many plans and revised plans in Europe following the 1976 Seveso accidental dioxin release to grasp just how complicated the entire subject of waste management is, even with extensive public involvement.
 

     It appears that the local decisions are being displaced from a community-wide ones to political ones.... a method that will be unlikely to serve any good longterm solution.. It was Joseph Joubert ( writing in “Poisoned Harvest” by Robbins, C., pg 7...Gollancz., London 1991) who said, “Tis better to debate a question without settling it, than to settle a question without debating it....”  How relevant that remark is to the current debate cannot be underestimated since it is the question of pollutants biologically active at the parts-per-trillion level, pollutants that cannot be seen or even easily measured as they waft into the atmosphere or wash along the flood plain where wildlife, fish and game can carry them into the food chain ........
 

     Please proceed with utmost caution in this area of public interest and concern......public health and human lives depend upon it..........

 

Neill D Varner, DO, MPH

Medical Director

Saginaw County Department of Public Health

 ---------

It's been a bad day in this ailing sick watershed of ours. Good people are silenced at all levels of government either by being fired or ignored as the LG ignored MDEQ on the dredge site. As usual its the stench of dark corners, lack of sunlight and the ability of Dow to lobby quietly and privately in places of power and decision making. And political affiliations don't matter do they?

 

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council  

 

Click here to view the entire Dioxin Update 

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04/30/08 Another Dow delay, asks Supreme Court to overrule Appeals Court decision

Dow filed its motion for leave to appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court regarding the class certification order on April 24, 2008.  This was in response to the Michigan Court of Appeals March 14, 2008 denial of Dow's motion for reconsideration in granting class action status to the case.  Dow’s main thrust is to try to get the Supreme Court to adopt the opinion of the dissenting judge on the Court of Appeals, Judge Kelly.  Judges Meter and Hood ruled in favor of the plaintiffs.  Plaintiffs  have until May 21, 2008 to respond. 

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

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04/29/08 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

Below is a letter sent to the Lieutenant Governor, John Cherry, by Zilwaukee Twp requesting a meeting before any decision is made on the slurry pit slated for the township. A letter was also sent by the Supervisor of Frankenlust Twp, which is also on the unfortunate receiving end of the this dredge site which straddles county lines. This site has been controversial because of the high concentrations of Dow's dioxin in the Saginaw River.  These elected officials want a meeting with the Lieutenant Governor before any decision is made. There concerns are legitimate. This dredge site will forever change their communities. They have been forced to take a risk for the business community along the river. They are entitled to some respect and the meeting they want. Then again so have the taxpayers who are liable for this site. We own it. To date there is no threshold for dioxin levels and no plan to present to the public as to how this site will be managed. Yet, it appears to be OK with elected officials and editorial boards alike.
 
This dredge site has been cloaked in the secrecy of confidentiality within the ADR ( alternative dispute resolution) established by the Lieutenant  Governor's closed door meetings with Dow four year ago. A process ignored by the media. Yet meeting notes and documents ( available before the ADR) clearly reflect Dow's interest in this site and EPA and DEQ's interest in this site as an option for Dow Chemical. Zilwaukee and Frankenlust Twp have  legitimate concerns, but perhaps, other Twps, those  along the Tittabawassee River have concerns too. Perhaps they don't know it just yet.
 
Whatever decision the Lieutenant Governor comes up with best be sound. Why? Because Dow, when it sites a facility on the Tittabawassee River will expect no more stringent standard than the DMDF. Dow's Greg Cochran, was quite candid with myself and Terry Miller, on our tour of the Tittabawassee River, that the company would likely need to site something on the Tittabawassee river.  
 
Here's EPA's comments in 2005 after a call with the Corp of Engineers about the DMDF:
Ken Westlake’s (EPA)   "DOW WILL ARGUE THAT THEY SHOULDN’T HAVE TO BE MORE PROTECTIVE IN THEIR SEDIMENT CLEANUP AND DISPOSAL"

Click here to view the entire update and the Zilwaukee Twp Letter

Please go to www.dredgeitright.org  to view congressional testimony about the Corp of Engineers many flaws in planning and environmental protection. We can and should do better.

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04/24/08 Petition effort for cleanup of Michigan's Largest Great Lakes Watershed

                              Be a voice for Lake Huron and the Saginaw Bay Watershed
Dow Chemical, responsible for the worst dioxin contamination in the Great Lakes, continues to thumb their nose at residents of the watershed and the state, ignoring their legal ( RCRA) obligations while shopping around for a better deal with EPA headquarters.
 
The Saginaw Bay is the largest watershed in Michigan. More than 50 miles of its rivers that empty into Lake Huron are threatened by dioxin and other highly hazardous chemicals. Federal and state laws require Dow Chemical Company, the responsible party, to clean up the contamination. However, pressure to resolve this issue behind closed doors is mounting. Public participation in an open transparent process is the best way to assure cleanup will be comprehensive and will restore the region to health.

Preserving and protecting the Great Lakes is the public trust responsibility of every elected representative. The Great Lakes region, its ecosystems, its economy and future generations also depend on citizens acting to protect our water resources. Please sign the petition below urging a comprehensive cleanup and an open, transparent public process in addressing this ongoing threat to Lake Huron.
 
Please  go to the link below and lend your name in support of an open transparent process for cleanup of Dow Chemical's dioxin contamination in the Saginaw Bay Watershed.  The following environmental organizations, citizen groups, organizations and religious orders have signed on:
 
 
bulletLone Tree Council
bulletSierra Club Michigan Chapter
bulletClean Water Action Michigan
bulletGreat Lakes Natural Resource Center National Wildlife Federation
bulletMichigan League of Conservation Voters
bulletDominican Sisters of Hope
bulletNew York, Mercy Investment Program, U.S., Sisters of Mercy
bulletRegional Community of Detroit, Michigan
bulletUrsuline Sisters of Tildonk-U.S. Province New York
bulletCitizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination
bulletTrillium Asset Management Corporation
bulletMichigan Environmental Council
bulletSisters of St Joseph of Carondelet
bulletCATS (Residents on the Saginaw River)
bullet Huron Environmental Activist League (HEAL)
bulletTittabawassee River Watch ( Residents on the Tittabawassee River)  
bulletCongregation of St. Joseph, Office of Peace and Justice
bulletEcology Center
bulletNational Environmental Law Center
bulletEnvironment Michigan.
 
 
HOW YOU CAN HELP
 
Lend your name in support of Lake Huron and the Michigan's largest watershed by signing on at the following link:
 
If you want to add your organization to the above list please contact me michdave@aol.com
 
Share this petition with your list serve, friends and family today
Best Regards,
 
Michelle Hurd Riddick
________________________________________________________________________________________

                        Lone Tree Council

                    P.O. 1251, Bay City, Michigan 48706

                                   (Fighting for environmental justice since 1978)

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE          CONTACT: Michelle Hurd Riddick (989) 799-3313

                                                                                                              Cell: 989-980-0982   

                                                                                    Terry Miller              989-686-6386    

April 23, 2008                                                                                       Cell: 989-450-8097   

                                                                                     Rita Jack                  517-484-2372 x12

 

 

PETITION EFFORT SHOWS STRONG SUPPORT FOR DIOXIN CLEANUP OF MICHIGAN’S LARGEST GREAT LAKES WATERSHED

Plus Community Activists Share Cleanup Hopes with trip to Washington

 

   

            The cleanup of Michigan’s largest Great Lakes Watershed will bring jobs and a brighter future for Michigan’s economy, and will benefit everyone who visits the Saginaw Bay Watershed and Lake Huron.  An online petition is being used to gather signatures of as many of the millions of Great Lakes fans as possible – the simple message is that all of them support public participation in an open transparent process as the best way to assure a comprehensive cleanup of Dow Chemical’s dioxin to restore the entire region to health.

 

            “We believe it is the duty of elected state lawmakers to uphold the public trust and protect and restore the Great Lakes to health,” states the petition.  “Our economy, our public health, and our future depend on the exercise of this solemn obligation.” 

 

            Leaders of the Lone Tree Council, along with members of the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, Clean Water Action and the League of Conservation Voters traveled to Washington D.C. on February 26th for a meeting with top officials at the United States Environmental Protection Agency after learning of Dow’s request for a meeting with the agency.

 

            “We were concerned that, as in the past, Dow Chemical was trying to slip behind closed doors to ask for a deal to avoid a cleanup of their dioxin,” Michelle Hurd-Riddick said.  “So we decided to go to Washington, too, and make sure EPA knows there’s more than one stakeholder in this cleanup effort.”  The groups met with Assistant Administrator Susan Bodine, head of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response and Superfund.  At that meeting, Bodine confirmed the cleanup plan would not be altered. “Ms. Bodine told us that the Michigan DEQ will maintain the lead on corrective action cleanup, and EPA Region V will also be there,” said Riddick, “and that was very good to hear.”   

 

            To show there is support from the Great Lakes community for comprehensive cleanup of the dioxin in the watershed, the groups are asking Great Lakes fans to sign an online petition modeled after the position paper left with EPA, Assistant Administrator, Susan Bodine.  Major community and environmental advocacy organizations have already signed on including the 70-member Michigan Environmental Council, but the groups want to show there is a larger audience.
 

             “This is the largest watershed in the state, and the dioxin contamination is a Great Lakes Water Quality issue,” said Sierra Club’s Rita Jack, “the petition is to show the public is aware, and they want their elected officials to be vigilant, and to watchdog this whole process.” 

 

            The groups are collecting signatures on a website set up by the Ecology Center and available at http://www.ecocenter.org/takeaction/dowpetition.php They will deliver the signatures to legislators and the governor in the near future.  “We know there is support for a cleanup, this petition gives us a way to show that,” said Lone Tree Council Chairman, Terry Miller.

 

bullet

Sign the petition,  click on this link  http://www.ecocenter.org/takeaction/dowpetition.php

bullet

Position Paper

bullet

Press Release

 

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04/23/08 Eat fish?

Excerpt from a recent Bay City Times article:

"For those who think there's no difference between the fish you get at the supermarket and the fish you catch, Groetsch says think again. Studies show toxic chemical concentrations are far higher in fish found in the Saginaw River and Bay: 7,000 times higher in carp, 280 times higher in white bass, 270 times higher in catfish, 40 times higher in walleye and 12 times higher in perch."

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04/22/08 Stunning flaws in Army Corps of Engineers project planning

In a recent Saginaw News editorial, Army Corps of Engineers Mike O'Bryan says "you can't ever be 100 percent, but I'm as close to 100 percent as you can get on my feeling that (the Saginaw/Bay dredging pit) is a totally safe site,"  The News than goes on to say "... well, he speaks with the authority of more than two centuries in the business." and questions the  "DEQ's intransigence" over the issue. 

 

Why are the MDEQ, the Lone Tree Council, and other concerned citizens stubbornly refusing to compromise?

 

Consider the following from our friends at NWF:

 

More than a decade of reports from the National Academy of Sciences, Government Accountability Office, Army Inspector General, U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, and independent experts have revealed a pattern of stunning flaws in U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project planning and implementation, and urged substantial changes to the Corps’ project planning process.  Changes needed to address concerns raised in the studies summarized below are included in S.564, the Water Resources Planning and Modernization Act of 2007

Below are a few snippets, click here for all the details

bullet Delaware River Deepening Project: Comprehensive Reanalysis Needed:  finds that the Corps overstated the project’s benefits by 200 percent (the GAO found at most $13.3 million annual benefits vs. the Corps’ $40.1 million), that the Corps’ benefit cost analysis was based on invalid assumptions and outdated information, and that the Corps could not explain its own analysis ...
bullet Improved Planning and Financial Management Should Replace Reliance on Reprogramming Actions to Manage Project Funds... finds that the Corps’ excessive use of reprogramming funds is being used as a substitute for an effective priority setting system  ...
bullet Corps of Engineers, Observations on Planning and Project Management Processes for the Civil Works Program ...finds that recent Corps studies “did not provide a reasonable basis for decision-making” because they were “were fraught with errors, mistakes, and miscalculations, and used invalid assumptions and outdated data.”  ...
bullet Agriculture as a Source of Barge Demand on the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Rivers...finds that the grain traffic forecasts being used by the Corps to justify lock expansion on the Upper Mississippi River were overly optimistic as more and more grain is used to produce ethanol, livestock and other value-added products – products ...
bullet External Review Panel for the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, ...“an overall pattern of engineering judgment inconsistent with that required for critical structures.” ...
bullet Improved Analysis of Costs and Benefits Needed for Sacramento Flood Protection Project:  finds that the Corps dramatically miscalculated the costs and benefits of the Sacramento Flood Control Project in California, over-counted the residential properties that would be protected, miscalculated the area that would be protected, and used an inappropriate methodology to calculate prevented flood damages...
bullet Analysis of The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence River Navigation System’s Role in U.S. Ocean Container Trade:  finds fundamental flaws in the Corps’ plan to expand the Great Lakes navigation system, including a host of factors not considered by the Corps that make the Great Lakes ports unattractive to international containerized cargo....
bullet Restructured Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway Feasibility Study...finds flaws in the models used by the Corps to predict demand for barge transportation and concludes that these flaws preclude a demonstration that expanding the locks is economically justified. ...
bullet Oregon Inlet Jetty Project: Environmental and Economic Concerns Need to Be Resolved:  finds that the Corps’ economic analysis does not provide a reliable basis for deciding whether to construct the project, as it relies on outdated and incomplete data and unsupported assumptions, and fails to account for risk and uncertainty in key variables that could significantly affect the project’s benefits and costs. ...
bullet Inland Navigation System Planning: The Upper Mississippi River-Illinois Waterway:  finds that the Corps was using a fundamentally flawed model to assess the lock expansion project; Congress should direct the Corps to fully evaluate use of nonstructural measures; the Corps was not properly accounting for the environmental consequences of its proposed plan...
bullet Investigation of Allegations against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Involving Manipulation of Studies Related to the Upper Mississippi River and Illinois Waterway Navigation Systems:  finds that the Corps deceptively and intentionally manipulated data in an attempt to justify a $1.2 billion expansion of locks on the Upper Mississippi River, and that the Corps has an institutional bias for constructing costly, large scale structural projects.
bullet Review Comments on Yazoo Backwater Area Reformulation:  finds that the Corps’ proposal to construct the $191 million Yazoo Backwater pumping plant in Mississippi overestimates just the agricultural benefits by $144 million, and claims almost $3 million in annual benefits that are explicitly prohibited by the Corps’ own rules....
bullet Hurricane Katrina, Strategic Planning ... “the Corps appears to be following a piecemeal approach, similar to its past practice of building projects without giving sufficient attention to the interrelationships between various elements of those projects or fully considering whether the projects will provide an integrated level of hurricane protection for the area.” ...
bullet Performance Evaluation of the New Orleans and Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Protection System ... the Corps did not take into account poor soil quality, and failed to account for the sinking of land, which caused some sections to be as much as 2 feet lower than other parts.  Breaches in four New Orleans canals were caused by foundation failures that were “not considered in the original design.” ...
bullet Project Engineering Peer Review Within The U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers: ...Reviews should be carried out by experts who have no connection to the Corps, to the local project sponsor, or to the particular project contract  ...
bullet Investigation of the Performance of the New Orleans Flood Protection Systems in Hurricane Katrina ...finds that the catastrophic failure of the New Orleans regional flood protection system was the result of “engineering lapses, poor judgments, and efforts to reduce costs at the expense of system reliability.”  ...
bullet External Review Panel for the Interagency Performance Evaluation Task Force, ...“an overall pattern of engineering judgment inconsistent with that required for critical structures.” ...
bullet American Society of Civil Engineers ... finds that the catastrophic failure of the Corps’ New Orleans hurricane protection system “demonstrates” that “fundamental flaws were part of how the system was conceived and developed.”...
bullet Preliminary Report on the Performance of the New Orleans Levee Systems in Hurricane Katrina ...breaches in New Orleans levee systems appear to have resulted from stability failures of the foundation soils and/or the earthen levee embankments pointing to failings in the design and oversight of construction of the levees by the Corps of Engineers, ...
bullet An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century Final Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy: ... changes to the Corps’ civil works program to ensure valid, peer-reviewed cost-benefit analyses of coastal projects; provide greater transparency to the public; enforce requirements for mitigating the impacts of coastal projects; and coordinate such projects with broader coastal planning efforts. ...
bullet Water Resources Planning: a New Opportunity for Service:  recommends modernizing the Corps’ authorities, planning approaches, and guidelines to better match contemporary water resources management challenges.
bullet Adaptive Management for Water Resources Project Planning:  recommends needed changes to ensure effective use of adaptive management by the Corps for its civil works projects.
bullet River Basins and Coastal Systems Planning Within the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: ...recommends needed changes to the Corps’ current planning practices....
bullet Analytical Methods and Approaches for Water Resources Planning:  recommends needed changes to the Corps’ “Principles and Guidelines” and planning guidance policies
bullet A Report to the Nation, Recommendations for a New Ocean Policy:  recommends enactment of “substantial reforms” of the Corps, including legislation to ensure that Corps projects are environmentally and economically sound and reflect national priorities....
bullet Assessment of Fish and Wildlife Mitigation Guidance:  finds that the Corps has proposed no mitigation for almost 70% of its projects, and for those few projects where the Corps does perform mitigation, 80% of the time it does not carry out the mitigation concurrently with project construction. 
bullet National Academy of Sciences, Review Procedures for Water Resources Planning: recommends creation of a formalized process to independently review costly or controversial Corps projects
bullet Compensating for Wetland Losses under the Clean Water Act:  highlights the significant problems with mitigation efforts to date, including mitigation carried out by the Corps ...
bullet New Directions in Water Resources Planning for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:  recommends key changes to the Corps’ planning process and examines the length of time and cost of Corps studies in comparison with similar studies carried out by the private sector....
bullet Floodplain Management Into the 21st Century, a Report to the Administration Floodplain Management Task Force ...recommends changes to the nation’s water resources policies based on lessons learned from the great Midwest Flood of 1993,  including modernizing the Corps’ Principles and Guidelines, requiring the Corps to give full consideration to non-structural flood damage reduction alternatives, requiring periodic reviews of completed Corps projects, adopting floodplain management guidelines that would minimize impacts to floodplains and reduce vulnerabilities to population centers and critical infrastructure,...
bullet Restoring and Protecting Marine Habitat ...the Corps and all federal agencies with responsibility for marine habitat management should revise their policies and procedures to increase use of restoration technologies; take into account which natural functions can be restored or facilitated; improve coordination concerning marine resources; include environmental and economic benefits derived from nonstructural measures in benefit/cost ratios...

Additional details about the Saginaw/Bay dredging pit can be found at www.dredgeitright.org

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04/21/08 Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

The Corps is an agency that likes projects, no matter what they do to the environment. Give them a dollar and they'll push it any way you want."
                          ---Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) [Washington Post, 9/14/00]

 

THE DREDGE SITE

 

Several news stories and yesterday's Saginaw News editorial have addressed recent activities surrounding the navigational dredge site on the Saginaw River highlighting the riff between the DEQ and Corp of Engineers. The SN editorial comment, suggests taxpayers and residents trust the Corp of Engineers’ expertise on the dredge site------ that would be the same agency that constructed and hailed the levees of New Orleans as state of the art. http://www.mlive.com/saginawnews/opinion/index.ssf/2008/04/editorial_dredging_delays_hurt.html

 

Read the Saginaw News' glowing comments about the Corp of Engineers then visit the Corp Reform Network www.corpsreform.org  to read the Corp Reform legislation sponsored Senators Feingold and McCain to reign in this rogue federal agency that answers to know one. You can also read about dozens and dozens of run amok Corp projects across this nation.  

 

This dredge site does not exist in a vacuum. It is not just about jobs. Context matters.  Substantive but ignored and overlooked in much of the media coverage are the following issues of magnitude:

 
bullet The taxpayers of Saginaw County own this site and have liability for any future contamination from the site
bullet The highest concentrations of dioxin in the nation are in the Saginaw River 
bullet We do not know how high the concentrations are in the navigation channel.
bullet The Corp has not produced an operational management plan to demonstrate how this site will be managed day to day let alone in the future...
bullet There are families living adjacent to this slurry pit.
bullet Besides dioxin, there are PCB’s, mercury and dozens of other contaminants to be contained

 

These issues matter for the long-term integrity of the watershed, river and people living there.  They matter to the taxpayers of Saginaw County unless of course we are to believe the Corp will bail us out of any future financial liability should this site flood, leak or concentrate dioxin levels over time which would require special and expensive handling.  The Saginaw River and Bay are on the federal Area of Concern, the only site with that designation on the US side of Lake Huron. I would suggest that many of the impairments, which have garnered us this sordid designation, were the result of poor planning, myopic vision and a lack of understanding how this dynamic eco-system operates and flippant disregard for environmental legislation and safeguards.

 

It  matters that the federal government believes the Saginaw Bay Watershed to be one of the most contaminated in the nation. It should be everyone’s objective, no exceptions, to take steps to mitigate and prevent further injury to residents, groundwater, surface waters and wildlife resources via exposures to these high levels of dioxin and other contaminants. This isn't just about the need to dredge the river it is also about how to safely contain toxic river dredgings materials, how to prevent groundwater contamination and how water from the site will be discharged back to the river in accordance with the Clean Water Act. ( a question nobody's talking about) It's about being on the correct path to detoxing this watershed from years of abuse and stupid decisions.

  

The Corp was issued a 401 certificate under the Clean Water Act ---that permit was predicated on the Corp and Saginaw County doing “betterments” which included  containing sediments and groundwater monitoring.  Jim Koski, Saginaw County, pulled the groundwater permits and the Corp of Engineers say a slurry wall to contain contaminated sediments is no longer needed, even though for the past two years these betterments were part of their repertoire for why this site was state of the art. The DEQ would have every right to pull their 401 certificate issued under the Clean Water Act--- laws matter. Protecting the Great Lakes resources matter.  It’s unfortunate that efforts to restore this watershed and provide protection from the contaminated sediments of the Saginaw River are not priorities for Mr. Koski or the Corp………….however, this luxury they have granted themselves does nothing to absolve taxpayer liability or insulate the county from future lawsuits or environmental degradations.

 

Backing away from their “betterments”, the site according to the Corp is still the safest one they've ever built.  In past local news editorials, residents and environmentalists alike have been admonished for seeking recourse in the courts because all the steps and permits to make this site state of the art would be in place. Now they're not going to be in place and we are still told the site is safe. One has to wonder if Mr. Koski and the Corp have gone along with the “betterments”concept  until the court cases were settled… just BS the judge until we get out of court.

 

Like many ill planned Corp of Engineers projects this site was not properly funded from the beginning. The cart was put before the horse.  There was never enough money to do this project correctly given its location to the river, to residents, the site geology and the levels of contamination in the river.

 

It is also not a coincidence that the slurry wall and the groundwater permit were abandoned after Dow Chemical withdrew support on this project. Last fall, in a letter to Lone Tree Council, Dow Chemical stated there were no commitments made on their part to provide any additional funding pending a comprehensive understanding of what might be required in terms of "betterments” and a clear understanding of the company’s ability to use the facility were those betterments accounted for. There is no money and never has been to do this site properly. Strapped for money the county cannot even afford to test the wells of residents living next door to this slurry pit let alone fund the testing needed down the road to monitor this site...what were they thinking.

 

At public hearings in 2004, Lone Tree Council and residents asked for this site to be moved upland, away from the river floodway. We asked for all stakeholders to be at the table to discuss how to do navigational dredging and cleanup. MDEQ, the Corp of Engineers and Jim Koski dismissed our inquiry and suggestions, insisting this site was not about dioxin or Dow but about navigational dredging. But the dioxins have always been the wildcard that skews everything. The wildcard which made proper citing, stringent permitting, long-term containment, wildlife protection and public health an integral part of the dredge project.

 

This site has no business being located where it is. Please remember there are dozens of families living in the shadow of this slurry pit that deserve to be defended and recognized every bit as rigorously as the dock owners, Corp or Jim Koski. 

 

Much more on this issue very soon. We hope to share with you some of the statements the Corp of Engineers and Saginaw County made to Federal District Court, Bay City Circuit Court and in depositions. The public is being taken for ride on this slurry pit.......
 

 

Regards,

 

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

 

 Some  favorite quotes about Corp of Engineers:

 

bullet "The Corps still doesn't get it.  They still think they can defeat Mother Nature with brilliant engineering.  They talk about the environment, but they don't really believe in it."
        ---Bill Hartwig, regional Fish and Wildlife Service director
bullet “If you even mention an environmental concern, you're not a team player. The pressure to look the other way is incredible."
     ---Robert Oja, former regulatory chief for the Corps Alaska District  [Washington Post, 9/13/00]
bullet "The Corps has less credibility than a French figure-skating judge."
      ---Steve Ellis, Taxpayers for Common Sense

Click here for all the Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003
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04/09/08
Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update

Below are a few snippets from the latest edition, click here to view the entire update

bullet Natural Damage Assessment
bullet

Yesterday  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released for public comment the draft Natural Resource Damage Assessment plan for the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and Saginaw Bay in Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties.

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The release is  centered on investigation activities being conducted by the Trustees of the NRDA as they evaluate the type and extent of resources lost  as a result of Dow’s dioxin contamination.

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This NRDA document permits all of us a candid painful look at the long history of Dow's extensive contamination. It gives us perhaps a more candid and painful perspective on how long the regulatory agencies have been grappling with this company. Thirty plus years is outrageous.  The repeated injury to resources, property and Lake Huron from decades of Dow using the river as their own personal sewer is beyond sad.

bullet

The Trustees are taking comments on their plan to evaluate damages. Issues of monetary compensation are well down the road. As said before, public and resource losses cannot be ascertained nor fully compensated for until such time as the full extent of the contamination is know highlighting the need for  Dow to submit  solid work plans to the state. The process is not punitive. The intent is to make the public whole again.

bullet

Comments on the draft assessment plan will be accepted through May 19 and should be submitted to Dr. Lisa Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2651 Coolidge Road, Suite 101, East Lansing, MI 48823.

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Hard copies also will be available at the Bay City DEQ office on 503 N. Euclid Ave.

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A public meeting on the draft is scheduled for 7 p.m. April 17 in the Great Hall B at the Best Western Valley Plaza Inn, 5221 Bay City Road, Midland.

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Click here to view the NRDA website

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Click here to download the NRDA plan for the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and Saginaw Bay
bullet

Chapter 3 is especially interesting - Dow has a long history of pollution reaching back to the late 1800's

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Transparency a cornerstone of our democracy
bullet People are always going to agree and disagree on many aspect of this contamination issue. But one would think that everyone would at least be in agreement on community right to know and being  transparent about process and the people’s business and how  that business is conducted ...
bullet Sadly, on March 25th the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted to support Resolution B put forth by Commissioners Wurtzel (Thomas Twp) and Ann Doyle (Tittabawassee Twp). This resolution asks EPA to step back into the lead and resume negotiations with Dow Chemical…..essentially a continuation of the closed-door negotiations that EPA ended in January after Dow Chemical failed to deliver on substantive issues like public health protection.
bullet

In a letter to the BOC, Lone Tree Council chided them for passing a resolution, which essentially told the residents/taxpayers of Saginaw County three things: 

1. Dow does not need to play by the rules or the laws of the land

2. It’s OK for negotiations to take place behind closed doors over this public resource

3. Dow does not have to honor their contract signed in June 2003

bullet  The Board of Commissioner did not deliberate and apparently did not inquire what MDEQ or EPA thought about their resolution. 
bullet
Commissioner Wurtzel admonished his fellow board members to get “some guts” and pass the resolution.  Well there is nothing gutsy about Commissioner Wurtzel’s resolution.  Snubbing one’s nose at a transparent public process or advocating keeping the public in the dark is frankly cowardly.
bulletWe owe many thanks to Commissioners Woods, Foxx and Ruth for voting against the resolutions and in support of community right to know.

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04/04/08 Don't blame the environmentalists

Letter to the Editor, Saginaw News

Regarding the Chamber of Commerce president's My View, ''River cleanup lies in facts not emotion,'' trying to make the environmental community out to be the fall guy in the dioxin controversy is absurd.

Are the chamber and its membership aware that more than 300 residents signed on to be represented in the class action against Dow Chemical Co. for putting dioxin on our properties and altering how many of us use and view our property and the river outside our door?

We talk with the regulatory agencies, and we attend the meetings. Many of us, frustrated as we are at times with the snail's pace on cleanup, realize that Dow has created most of the delays. The chamber just wants to manipulate this issue, change the focus and make it look like a handful of people are out to villainize Dow. Frankly, Dow is its own worst enemy; creating delays, running from agency to agency, university to university to avoid responsibility.

It's time for the Environmental Protection Agency or the Department of Environmental Quality to write Dow's cleanup plan for them. Dow has shown itself to be irresponsible with its contamination as well as its willingness to clean it up.

The chamber president stated the ''no individual has been ill due to the effects of furans/dioxin in the Tittabawassee River.'' In the absence of any health study or epidemiological study, I have no clue what he is basing his information on. It does, however, call into question his other statement about the chamber basing its positions on ''expert scientific studies.'' I am here to tell you there have been no studies done to date to draw the conclusions that he puts forth.

As a registered nurse, mother and river resident, I am not willing to be placated by Dow's philanthropy nor am I going to be critical of the ''environmentalists'' for their commitment to our community and this river. I applaud them.

Marcia Woodman

Tittabawassee Township

Click here for more editorials from our community

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04/02/08 EPA/MDEQ to sample Saginaw residential areas for dioxin

CONTACT: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov
                Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE               
No. OPA047
EPA, MDEQ to sample Saginaw residential area for dioxin contamination
 
(Chicago- Apr. 2, 2008) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality have begun screening a residential neighborhood in Saginaw Mich., for dioxin-contaminated soil.
An estimated 10 residential properties in an area along the Tittabawassee River will be sampled.  Small plugs from up to 36 inches below surface level will be sent for laboratory analysis. 
Analysis may take two to three weeks.  Once the data is returned, EPA and MDEQ, along with Michigan Department of Community Health, will consider a range of options, including more comprehensive sampling in the area and possible cleanup actions.
"Residential soil contamination is a serious matter," said Associate Superfund Director Ralph Dollhopf.  "At this time of year, children are playing outside again and families are planning gardens.  If action is needed, this project will ramp up very quickly." 
The investigation aims to determine the extent of dioxin contamination present in the neighborhood.  The project was prompted by Dow Chemical Co.'s February 2008 disclosure to the agencies of an elevated dioxin level found in a residential soil sample collected by Dow in November 2007.  Under the company's Michigan operating license, MDEQ required Dow to conduct certain soil and embankment sampling along the Middle Branch of the Tittabawassee River.
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, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on and off-site dioxin and furan contamination. 

View all Region 5 News Releases

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04/01/08 Lone Tree Council Letter to Saginaw Board of Commissioners

To: Saginaw County Board of Commissioners
From: Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council
Re: Resolution B

April 1, 2008

Dear Saginaw County Commissioners,

Attached please find two documents for your edification on the Dow Chemical/dioxin issue as it relates to regulatory authority.

This cleanup is regulated under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, a federal program of the EPA. EPA granted authority to MDEQ to oversee Dow’s corrective action obligations under RCRA for the company’s dioxin contamination in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. MDEQ negotiated the terms of the RCRA corrective action over several years with Dow, culminating in the two entities signing the document in June of 2003, DEQ Director Chester, on behalf of the state and Susan Carrington on Dow Chemical’s behalf. Because RCRA is a federal program EPA has always had and continues to have oversight.

Make no mistake--- there is no ambiguity about how cleanup should proceed. Part 111 of the Michigan Environmental Protection Act is clear in Dow’s license. There is no ambiguity as to what is required for investigation, public health protection, interim or final response. This corrective action license is a legal binding contract between Dow Chemical and the people of Michigan. Not only does it state how activities will be conducted, it states they will be conducted in an open public process, perhaps the one item Dow dislikes the most. That the Board of Commissioners would support with a resolution Dow Chemical’s desire for closed-door negotiations and the company’s efforts to abandon a legal binding contract because they no longer want to play by the rules is beyond the pale. Again, there is no ambiguity in Dow’s RCRA responsibility. Any delay in resolving the dioxin "situation" is the direct result of the company’s efforts to skirt the responsibility of their corrective action license by creating needless delays and interjecting specious arguments and groundless debate into the process.

Your passage of Resolution B calling on EPA to resume lead negotiations with Dow sends three clear messages to the people of Saginaw County:

1. Dow does not need to play by the rules or the laws of the land

2. It’s OK for negotiations to take place behind closed doors over this public resource

3. Dow does not have to honor their contract signed in June 2003

EPA ordered Dow into negotiations under CERCLA last fall and ended them in January after a thirty-day extension. These negotiations were private, the discussions known only to the respective parties. EPA stated that they were disappointed but that Dow failed to deliver on substantive issues like public health protection, a pretty important detail. This was the third time in six years Dow has negotiated privately with regulators— creating delays, derailing timelines and always, always to no avail. That nothing substantive came from recent negotiations should surprise no one. Lone Tree Council objected to all of these closed-door negotiations and we will continue to do so.

I would submit that your job as elected officials is to support the laws of this state and to reject any negotiations that do not guarantee transparency. As elected officials you have the responsibility to ensure the business of the people is transparent and that the people who own these resources are assured a voice and a place at the table. Given the geographic size of the contamination and the unprecedented concentrations of dioxin in this county, one would think the Board of Commissioners would want to be fully apprised of how public health measures and response activities are being negotiated. Closed-door negotiations leave you, the elected representatives and your local health department out of the information loop. Your support for Resolution B essentially denies the elected representatives of this county access to information.

Many of your districts border these rivers. The impacted residents living and raising their families on contaminated property and the disproportionate number of minorities consuming the most highly contaminated fish from these waters are the most legitimate stakeholders. Who is their voice in a closed-door negotiation? We all own these natural resources and we are all stakeholders. No one should be in the dark on this very important issue. Every citizen is entitled to information so they can participate as equals in the one of the worst contaminations in this state’s history. This isn’t just about Dow and a quick resolution. This is about public health, property, restoration and the quality of Lake Huron. It’s about how this county chooses to conduct the people’s business.

I did contact MDEQ and EPA and was informed that to the best of their knowledge no one from the Saginaw County Board of Commissioners had contacted them for input on Dow activities, the regulatory process or their perspective on how activities are progressing. Your support for Resolution B without gathering the facts or deliberating is bothersome at best.

Contrary to the language put forth in Resolution B, MDEQ is moving this process along and EPA is actively involved. Consistent with past practice Dow is the only obstacle to progress. Perhaps you would find the courage to call into question all the delays created by Dow Chemical. MDEQ with EPA’s support has issued dozens of Notices of Deficiencies to this recalcitrant company over the past five years; the first one being in December of 2003 and the most recent this past December. I would be most happy to compile the list for you.

As for the timely and final resolution being called for in Resolution B, it has always been within Dow’s power to bring this cleanup to fruition. In 2003 when Dow and DEQ signed the RCRA corrective action license Dow proclaimed it was the path forward. Again in 2005 after 8 months behind closed doors the public was told the resulting FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT was the " path forward" to resolve this issue. In 2007 upon entering negotiations with EPA, the public was once again told about Dow’s desire to settle this issue and move forward. Again they dropped the ball. Now in 2008 Dow is shopping around to create more delays and tossing aside their legal and binding obligations under RCRA. Is it the position of the board that Dow does not have to honor their contract?

This February, Dow visited EPA headquarters in an effort to re-enter negotiations with Region V. EPA headquarters told Dow they were confident in the State of Michigan retaining the lead on this corrective action with back up from Region V when things began to bog down. It worked very well last year on Reach D, JK, O and Wickes Park. The sampling required by MDEQ under RCRA authority and the authority of EPA under CERCLA accelerated cleanup on these various reaches.

As stated in the attached letter from MDEQ and EPA more work was accomplished last year with the two agencies working together than in the previous 30 years. Perhaps it would be advantageous to invite both agencies in for a committee of the whole meeting where you could ask their opinion, face to face and really find out what’s going on.

Resolution B states:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, That it is of great importance to the future of Saginaw County and this region to determine an agreed upon single path forward that will result in a protective, timely and final resolution of the dioxin and furan situation in Saginaw County and surrounding communities….

However, upholding the democratic process is more important then an expedited clean- up. Dow’s RCRA corrective action license is the agreed upon, single path forward to a timely and final resolution to this issue. Commissioner Wurtzel admonished the board to "get some guts" but we are long past the need for ambiguous resolutions and hyperbole. The boards vote to support closing the door on transparency was anything but gutsy.

I hope in the future you will attend the quarterly meetings of the DEQ where all the stakeholders are gathered and engage Dow, the agencies and your community. Dioxin " situation" is a tepid and comfortable description coined early on by Dow. In reality, this " situation" is one of the largest geographic contaminations in the country. The highest levels of dioxin in the nation are in our waters. Every man, woman and child who hunts in or live on these contaminated floodplains, recreates, swims or fishes in these rivers or Bay deserves to be acknowledged as a stakeholder in seeking resolution to this contamination. Those who subsist on these fish deserve a voice too.

To Commissioners Woods, Fox and Ruth we thank you for your support for an open process and your support for the right of the people to know what’s going on in their communities.

Sincerely,

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

989-799-3313

michdave@aol.com

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 Dow Chemical letter to MDEQ

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 Joint response to Dow Chemical from MDEQ and EPA Region V 

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 Saginaw Board of Commissioners Resolution B

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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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