Groups Charge EPA is Poised to Cut Deal With Dow
Chemical In Waning Days of Bush Administration
and regional environmental organizations strongly objected today to closed door
negotiations to reach an agreement on the largest dioxin contaminated site in
the country. Dow Chemical, the world's largest chemical company, has
contaminated more than 50 miles of river downstream from the company's global
headquarters in Michigan. In a letter sent to EPA Administrator Stephen
Johnson, groups including Waterkeeper Alliance, the Michigan Environmental
Council, Michigan’s Sierra Club, Clean Water Action and the League of
Conservation Voters allege the proposed process could result
in an agreement that reduces the protectiveness of the cleanup, weakens the
government's hand in requiring timely action, curtails public input and reduces
government transparency and accountability.
"Every single one of our
nation's environmental laws was built on a foundation of transparency and public
participation," stated Waterkeeper Alliance Chairman, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
"EPA's attempt to circumvent that fundamental approach is an attack on the very
cornerstone of our democracy."
The EPA and the Michigan Department of
Environmental Quality (DEQ) launched the private negotiating session with Dow
with the intent of negotiating an agreement under thenon-regulatory
Superfund Alternatives Sites (SAS) program. This would change the way the
cleanup would be administered. Currently
the site is administered through requirements in an existing State hazardous
"The best disinfectant is always sunlight," said
Lana Pollack, Director of the Michigan Environmental Council". This is public
health issue and the public has a right to be at the table.
More than a year ago, the
EPA rejected an agreement negotiated using the same proposed framework. At
the time, the EPA stepped away from those negotiations. The Agency said at the
time, "EPA does not believe that the deal Dow
is offering goes far enough," and "Key issues that are paramount for protecting
human health and the environment remain unresolved. EPA simply will not accept
any deal that is not comprehensive." After rejection of the proposal by then
Region V EPA Administrator Mary Gade and other actions related to the cleanup,
Mary Gade was terminated from her job.
are concerned that an agreement negotiated behind closed doors, with an
Administration who's regulatory philosophy has been notably pro-polluter, does
not bode well for the protection of our the Great Lakes," said Michelle Hurd
Riddick of the Lone Tree Council. "We fear they are picking up where they left
off now that Mary Gade is gone."
SAS is a non-regulatory program that has never gone through a public process of
rulemaking, nor has the program been evaluated for effectiveness in achieving
SAS sites are languishing without action. The SAS process circumvents some of
the requirements of the federal Administrative Procedures Act, and other public
input provisions of the Superfund law, thereby essentially eliminating a public
role in a major cleanup impacting the commons in the region.
spring, EPA Region V and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality lauded
the accomplishments made in 2007 as the most progress made in 30 years. Yet
the SAS proposal would derail the existing process, replacing it with yet
another process. EPA has not made a compelling case for the SAS process. In
their comments ( letter attached) to EPA Administrator Johnson, the signatories
is no need for this mid-stream switch from an existing, clean up process under a
workable, enforceable RCRA corrective action permit to an unnecessary,
potentially detrimental SAS approach that could lead to time delays and less
extensive and less protective clean up"
Letter to Administrator Johnson US EPA
Administrator Stephen Johnson
US Environmental Protection Agency
December 17, 2008
Dear Administrator Johnson,
Protection Agency has publicly announced it intends to negotiate a remedy to Dow
Chemical’s dioxin contamination in the Saginaw Bay, Michigan watershed using the
Superfund Alternative Site (SAS) agreement guidelines. The EPA has indicated
these negotiations will be outside of public review. Given that one of the
nation’s premier natural resources is at stake, this is unacceptable. The
undersigned are writing to strongly urge you against this action. We believe
the proposed agreement is an unnecessary diversion that could reduce the
protectiveness of the cleanup required, weaken the government's hand in
requiring timely action, curtails public input and eliminate government
transparency and accountability.
This will be the third time
in three years that closed-door negotiations have been undertaken with Dow
Chemical. Implementation of the SAS is contrary to the public statements and
positions taken by EPA Region V and the Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality (MDEQ) on numerous occasions lauding the tremendous progress made in
2007 as a result of enforcement and investigations done in tandem under CERCLA
In March2008 a joint letter was sent to Dow
Chemical from then-Regional Administrator Gade and MDEQ Director Chester voicing
strong support for the agencies’ collaborative efforts which they argued would
lead to a “final remedy,” one which is “more likely to be final and
durable” as a result of the coordination between state and federal
programs. At public meetings and in conversation EPA and MDEQ have admonished
the public to recognize the progress made in 2007.
A compelling case for a new
path has not been made. This cannot be stated enough. There is no need for this
mid-stream switch from an existing, clean up process under a workable,
enforceable RCRA corrective action permit to an unnecessary, potentially
detrimental SAS approach that could lead to time delays and less extensive and
less protective clean up. Further, the timing of this action, as the EPA is
about to transition its leadership, is questionable.
Finally, the closed-door
process raises questions about the real intent of again proposing a new course
of action on the cleanup. We are further concerned that the SAS process does
not have the same protections and public oversight outlined under Superfund and
We request a fully
transparent process that takes into account the public interest and the human
health and ecological implications of any action on this site. This site
remains one of the worst in the nation, and in the last two years saw soil
removal based on a finding of imminent hazard to the health of residents.
EPA and the State of
Michigan have now been engaged with Dow in various aspects of the dioxin
contamination and cleanup for many years. Resolving an issue of this magnitude
requires great care and public accountability and your management of it will be
a key part of your legacy as Administrator. We ask for the opportunity to meet
with you as soon as possible. We are most happy to travel to Washington DC for
this meeting or to take you on a tour of our contaminated watershed.
We look forward to hearing
from you. Please make Michelle Hurd Riddick or Terry Miller your point of
Water Keeper Alliance
50 S Buckhout
Irvington, NY 10533
Lana Pollack, President
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 2A
Lansing, Michigan 48912
Sierra Club, Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River
Lansing, MI 48906
Cyndi Roper, Director
Michigan Clean Water Action
1200 Michigan Ave., Ste. A
East Lansing, MI 48823
Michigan League of Conservation Voters
Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
213 W. Liberty St, Ste 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Tittabawassee River Watch
2935 Shattuckville Road
Saginaw, MI 48603
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council
Chair, Lone Tree Council
Bay City, MI
Director, Environmental Health Project
117 N Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
object to third round of behind closed door negotiations with Dow
T0: EPA Region V Administrator Lyn Buhl,
Mr. Bharat Mather, Mr. Rick Karl
MDEQ Director Steve Chester and Mr. Frank Ruswick
December 15, 2008
Today, EPA Region V issued a Special
Notice to Dow Chemical to enter into closed-door negotiations under a Superfund
Alternative Site (SAS) agreement process for the company’s dioxin contamination
in the Saginaw Bay Watershed. Our immediate reaction, issues and concerns below.
We will be in touch.
We object to this SAS agreement
and once again we must voice our deep disappointment in EPA, MDEQ and your
respective administrations for again shutting the people out of discussions over
resources which are owned by the people. In every instance and almost without
fail when Dow Chemical pushes back, resists being regulated or held accountable,
the regulatory agencies acquiesce to a new direction, new plan, and kill
transparency by going behind closed doors. As you are aware there is nothing in
the SAS guidance that requires the public being shut out.
We object to the SAS agreement
because it is only a ‘guidance’ that has not gone through rule making. Neither
has its success been qualitatively or quantitatively demonstrated.
We object to the SAS agreement because it is contrary to
the public statements and positions taken by EPA Region V and the Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). On numerous occasions this year the
agencies lauded the tremendous progress made in 2007 as a result of enforcement
and investigations done in tandem under CERCLA and RCRA. EPA and MDEQ have
repeatedly reminded and, at times, admonished the public to be cognizant of the
progress made in 2007.
We object to the SAS agreement
because there exists a viable federal RCRA corrective action license to address
the contamination. EPA and MDEQ have failed to provide any coherent legal or
science based rationale to the public for using an SAS agreement. The scale of
the contamination, the public health and Environmental Justice implications, the
economic recovery potential and the NRDA process demand that characterization of
the contamination be detailed and cleanup be done correctly.
We object to the SAS agreement
because EPA and MDEQ have yet to articulate the future role of RCRA and Dow
obligations under RCRA. The agencies have yet to articulate the role of the
Trustees for the NRDA in negotiations under the SAS.
We object to the SAS agreement
commencing without a public meeting to answer questions. At the DEQ quarterly
meeting November 6th 2008 it was stated the public would have an
opportunity to comment on development and implementation of the order and that
there would be public dialogue at the beginning of the negotiations and at the
We object to the SAS agreement
because like the secret Consent Order in 2002, the
closed door Framework Agreement in 2005 and the confidential
negotiations in October 2007 this “new” process will create more delays and
perpetuate the avoidance of public input.
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council
Lone Tree Council
Bay City, MI
Tittabawassee River Watch
Ann Arbor, MI
reports EPA to go behind closed doors to negotiate with Dow
EPA Region V issued
a Special Notice today to Dow Chemical by which the company, Region
V and MDEQ will go behind closed doors for the third time in three
years to negotiate a cleanup under the Superfund Alternative Site
agreement process (SAS) to address Dow's dioxin contamination in the
Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay of Lake Huron.
The SAS process is only a
'guidance' which does not require CLOSED DOORS. Dow has long wanted
to deal with EPA exclusively-- read the article below. The SAS is
moving forward without any explanation on the fate of the viable
RCRA corrective action license which is in place. It goes without
saying that Dow always wants to go behind closed doors.
Unfortunately voices in defense of transparency are silent when it
comes to Dow and closed doors always create the much coveted delays
that Dow has relied on for decades. No objections from MDEQ about
the lack of transparency.
Dow expects to receive EPA letter today on dioxin
By Tony Lascari
of the Midland Daily News
December 15, 2008 12:40 PM EST
A potential new path to dioxin and furan
contamination cleanup in the Saginaw Valley is under discussion.
The Dow Chemical Co. expects to receive a letter today from
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 office and
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that would describe
the potential end points of negotiations to create an Superfund
The company and the agencies hope to come to
an agreement on issues such as how much more data to collect and
what remedies to use for contaminated riverbanks and other sites
in the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.
"This is not a negotiation to establish a final remedy,"
said Dow spokesman John Musser. "It's an important step, but
it's not the last step."
Negotiations are expected to get in-depth next month, with
Dow needing to make a good faith effort by Feb. 15. After that,
a 30-day extension could be granted. If terms are reached,
implementation could take from one to several years, depending
on what work is agreed upon.
Musser said previous dealings with the MDEQ left Dow feeling
it wasn't headed toward an end point.
"The negotiation that's coming up offers us some hope," he
The talks also will be different than previous discussions
with the EPA under Region 5 Administrator Mary Gade, who left
her job in the spring stating she had been stripped of her
powers by EPA headquarters because of her work with the Dow
At the time, Musser said Dow had appealed to EPA
headquarters to seek equal treatment, which it hadn't received
from Region 5 when it tried to come to an agreement on cleanup
ppt dioxin cells found along riverbank
For those unable to attend the November
dioxin quarterly meeting last month,
click here to view the transcript.
particularly disturbing discovery this past summer was an area of
Tittabawassee River bank located next to the old Dow 47 building in
Midland. This location is right next to the Loons baseball stadium, and was
slated to become a public park. However, Dow discovered some old
chloro-alkalide cells and rubble that was being used as riprap along the
river bank that were found to have very high levels of furans and other
compounds associated with them. Dioxin
TEQ of 140,000ppt as well as high levels of
cadmium and some 5 herbicide type compounds were found in the area.
This material was also found in the river channel
and is believed to have been an on going source of contamination to the
river. Under CERCLA orders from the EPA, the material was removed late
summer and fall of this year. Dow is now in the process of trying to figure
out how to cap this large hole in the river that was made, and what to do
about all of the other sediment contaminants surrounding the site once the
sheet piling is removed.
There is an ongoing investigation at other areas
adjacent to the plant where historic waste treatment ponds all had outfalls
to the river.
While it was not illegal for a company to
discharge wastes into a waterway at the time this contamination occurred, it
has never been legal for a company to poison an entire watershed in
Michigan. The horrific amounts of contamination discovered in the past few
years truly is astonishing. We do have to give Dow some recent credit for
at long last starting to move forward with some clean up with the help of a
little coaxing from US EPA.
withholding information on dioxin
Good luck getting any of the recent information on dioxin testing in the City of
Midland. The City of Midland secreted the data away with a private law firm; one
that is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. They did this--- as you
may have suspected to keep people in the dark.
This data is subject to the public disclosure because the activity ( ie
sampling) was required as part of Dow's RCRA obligations. Midland city fathers
believe they can skirt openness and transparency to protect the community from
stigma and to protect property values. The regulatory agencies with support from
politicos from the Governor on down agreed to this because, as it was told to
me, it was the only way they could get the testing done without a protracted
fight with the city of Midland.
Michelle Hurd Riddick Lone Tree Council
withholding information on dioxin
In response to Midland Daily News’ article, “Midland
Motherload? Data mining could help city recoup costs of GIS systems” (November
9, 2008), I called Tony Foisy’s office to request information on dioxin
contamination sites in Midland. So, unfortunate it was, for the city to deny
information to city residents concerned with the health, welfare and
contamination of the community. Rather than restricting information from
interested residents, the Midland City Council, City Manager, and Geographic
Information System Manager Tony Foisy should be promoting utilization of the GIS
to help residents address their concerns with the dioxin contamination in the
Fortunately, the Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality previously compiled information on dioxin contamination sites in and
adjacent to Midland. This information consisted of the following:
Residential areas – 5 to 270 ppt (parts per trillion)
Virginia Park – 13 to 410 ppt
park – 5 to 100 ppt
Caldwell Boat Launch – 18 to 270 ppt
Creek Elementary School – 15 to 2,400 ppt
Longview Elementary School – 15 to 2,300 ppt
Academy of Advanced & Creative Studies (Mapleton) – 15 to 350 ppt
Middle School – 12 to 350 ppt
Line Road – 3 to 350 ppt
Based on this information we can only assume that the
dioxin contamination sites in the Midland area exceed the 90-ppt threshold for
cleanup. Is this what the City of Midland is hiding from us? Shouldn’t we
citizens be concerned with the health and safety of our loved ones instead of
our property values?
Richard A. Maltby
Boulevard neighborhood dioxin cleanup status
Recent testing evidently confirmed previously
reported high levels in the yards, roads, and homes of
residents. In July 2008, the EPA
stepped in forced Dow to initiate an immediate cleanup. River Boulevard is
one of the last dirt roads in Saginaw County and provides the only access to
the residents homes. According to the MDEQ, dioxin levels of 10,000
ppt where discovered in the dusty and often muddy road. The EPA has
since paved it as part of the remediation. This area is prone to
repeated flooding, it will be interesting to see how future contamination is
is a residential cleanup of dioxin contamination
located in Saginaw,
Saginaw County, Michigan. See Polrep 1 for more details.
Set up for the soil removal activities began in August and consisted of:
building a staging area for personnel and equipment, road building within
staging area and creation of access points through pre-existing berm to
staging area, the placement of landscape fabric and stone under crawlspaces
and decks to minimize human exposure to contaminants, and creating permanent
floors in outdoor sheds.
Removal activities of contaminated soil began on September 2,
2008. Pre-excavation activities on these properties include moving of
outdoor personal property to the staging area and the removal of trees and
brush. During removal activities, crews removed 2 feet of contaminated soil
in residential areas and 1 foot of soil from the “transition zones”
(non-residential). After the removal of soil was complete, crews placed
landscape fabric as a demarcation layer, backfilled with clean fill and
topsoil and prepared the area for landscaping and sod placement. All
removal activities of contaminated soil were completed on October 8, 2008.
The Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registry (ATSDR) has dropped key
measures from its guidelines for analyzing dioxin levels at waste sites, a move
that activists and state regulators say will limit regulatory confusion and
bolster efforts to force cleanups at levels stricter than EPA's current cleanup
The ATSDR action could help environmentalists in Michigan, who petitioned for
the change in 2006, in their effort to force Dow Chemical company to clean up to
stricter levels a massive dioxin contaminated site around its Midland, MI,
ATSDR, which is required by Superfund law to report on contamination levels at
hazardous waste sites, announced in the Federal Register Oct. 15 that it has
dropped from its Guideline for Dioxins and Dioxin-Like Compounds in Residential
Soil an "action level" and "evaluation level" that had been set in 1998 at
levels no stricter than EPA's cleanup target, of 1 part per billion (ppb).
Relevant documents are available on InsideEPA.com.
The change leaves in place a "screening level" of 50 parts per trillion (ppt),
which is more stringent than the 1-ppb level that EPA has set for its cleanup
target, known as a preliminary remediation goal (PRG), as well as ATSDR's
dropped "action level."
"The primary objective of this update is to ensure that ATSDR health assessors
evaluate dioxin levels that exceed the ATSDR established screening level of [50
ppt] as described in the ATSDR Public Health Assessment Guidance Manual,"
according to the Oct. 15 announcement.
Industry, citing the ATSDR action level, argued for years that the 1-ppb level
should be used for cleanups. But states, environmentalists and public health
officials have long raised concerns that the level is inadequate.
"No one ever took seriously the 1 ppb [standard] because ... anything [exposed]
at that level dies," an environmental consultant says. The number is an "old,
old standard" set in the 1980s and reflects the status of detection and
knowledge at that time. The source called ATSDR's change "a tremendous step
forward" but says the 50 ppt level is still too weak.
While environmentalists and some states say the 1-ppb level is not adequate,
they have struggled to enforce stricter levels in part because EPA has been
unwilling to revise its PRG, or set a strict enforceable cleanup standard until
it finalizes its long-stalled dioxin risk assessment. The agency's research
chief, George Gray, recently told a congressional subcommittee that the agency
is starting its risk assessment over from scratch. As a result, a final
assessment is three and a half to four years away, Gray said.
But in the absence of a final risk assessment, and an enforceable cleanup
standard, industry officials have been pushing to win potentially weaker cleanup
standards and have been citing ATSDR's "action level" as an alternative cleanup
value. -- Maria Hegstad
11/06/08 Lawsuit update
One day after the
elections, the Michigan Supreme
Court granted Dow Chemical's request for reconsideration in the Michigan Appeals
Court January 2008 decision to grant class action status for residents living in
the Tittabawassee River floodplain.
This coming March, it will be 6 years since the case was originally filed and 11
months since the Appeals court decision to grant class certification. No hearing
date has been indicated yet.
DEQ QUARTERLY MEETING TOMORROW
NIGHT PASS IT ALONG
The next quarterly Midland/Saginaw/Bay City
(Tri-Cities) Dioxin Community Meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on
Thursday, November 6, 2008, at the Horizons Conference Center, 6200
State Street, Saginaw. The press release and agenda for the meeting
are available at:
Similar to the meeting held on August 7,
2008, this meeting will also feature several open house stations for
one-on-one or small group discussion of topics of interest with meeting
presenters along with other agency and Dow representatives for one-half
hour after the formal portion of the meeting.
Please share this notice with others who
might be interested in attending this meeting or forward their e-mail
addresses to me for inclusion on the distribution list. If you should
have any questions, please contact me.
Environmental Engineering Specialist
Hazardous Waste Management Unit
Hazardous Waste Section
Waste and Hazardous Materials Division
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 30241, Lansing, MI 48909-7741
Overnight Mail/Street Address:
Constitution Hall, Atrium North, 525 West Allegan Street, Lansing, MI
Click here for Dioxin Updates going back to February
2003 10/29/08 Non Hodgkin's lymphoma risk and past
Non Hodgkin's lymphoma risk and past
dioxin emissions from municipal solid waste incinerators
Dioxin emissions from municipal solid waste incinerators are one of
the major sources of dioxins and therefore are an exposure source of public
concern. There is growing epidemiologic evidence of an increased risk for
non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in the vicinity of some municipal solid waste
incinerators (MSWI) with high dioxin emission levels.
The purpose of this study was to examine this association on a larger
Methods: The study area consisted of four French departments, comprising a
total of 2270 block groups. Cases that had been diagnosed during the period
1990-1999, and were aged >18 years, were considered.
Each case was assigned a block group by residential address geocoding.
Atmospheric Dispersion Model System (ADMS3) software was used to estimate
immissions in the surroundings of 13 incinerators which operated in the
Then, cumulative ground-level dioxin concentrations were calculated for each
block group. Poisson multiple regression models, incorporating penalized
regression splines to control for covariates, were used with block group as
the statistical unit.
Results: A total of 3974 NHL incident cases was observed (2147 among males,
and 1827 among females) during the 1990-1999 time period.
A statistically significant relationship was found at the block group level
between NHL incidence and dioxin exposure, with a relative risk (RR) of
1.120 (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.003 - 1.250) for persons living in
highly exposed census blocks compared to those living in slightly exposed
block groups. Post-hoc subgroup analyses per gender yielded a significant RR
for females only (RR=1.187, 95% CI 1.020 - 1.382).
Conclusions: This study adds further evidence to the link between NHL
incidence and exposure to dioxins emitted by MSWIs.
However, the findings of this study cannot be extrapolated to current MSWIs,
which emit lower amounts of pollutants than past MSWIs.
Author: Jean-Francois Viel, Come Daniau, Sarah Goria, Pascal Fabre, Perrine
de Crouy-Chanel, Erik-Andre Sauleau and Pascal Empereur-Bissonnet
Credits/Source: Environmental Health 2008, 7:51
10/29/08 Dioxin tied to metabolic syndrome in
Oct 12, 2008
Uemura, H, K Arisawa, M Hiyoshi, A Kitayama, H Takami, F Sawachika, S
Dakeshita, K Nii, H Satoh, Y Sumiyoshi, K Morinaga, K Kodama, T Suzuki,
M Nagai, and T Suzuki. 2008. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome assocaites
with body burden levels of dioxin and related compounds among general
inhabitants in Japan. Environmental Health Perspectives doi:
A large new
epidemiological study in Japan finds that even at background levels of
exposure, people with higher levels of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs are a
significantly greater risk to metabolic syndrome, which includes high
blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
A cross-sectional study of almost 1400 people drawn from the general
public in Japan finds that people with higher levels of dioxin and
dioxin-like PCBs are a significantly greater risk to metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is a very significant public health problem in the US
and many other industrialized countries, including Asian nations like
Japan. It is a collection of metabolic conditions that includes obesity,
glucose intolerance and hypertension that has been increasing
dramatically over the past 2 decades and is predicted to increase much
more in the coming years. Health costs of caring for people with
metabolic syndrome have skyrocketed, because it is tied to so many
serious health problems, including Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Stimulated by US research reporting similar associations, the
Japanese research team, from leading academic and government
institutions around the country, re-analyzed an existing data set that
had recruited people from throughout Japan, collating medical
information and obtaining blood samples which were analyzed for the
They then used a series of statistical analyses to ask whether the
chemicals were associated with increased risk of metabolic syndrome.
All of the dioxin-like chemicals measured, including dioxin itself,
were linked to the disorder. Using a method to assess total exposure to
this family of chemicals, they found that the people most exposed were
over five times more likely to suffer from the health condition.
Looking at some of the chemicals one-at-a-time, they found that some, by
themselves, had an even stronger relationship, as high as 8 to 9 times
10/21/08 Local breast cancer rates elevated,
study finds statistical relationship to elevated dioxin levels
Spatial variations in the
incidence of breast cancer and potential risks
associated with soil dioxin contamination in
Midland, Saginaw, and Bay Counties, Michigan, USA
and Tonny J Oyana
Environmental Health 2008, 7:49doi:10.1186/1476-069X-7-49
21 October 2008
High levels of dioxins in soil and
higher-than-average body burdens of dioxins in local
residents have been found in the city of Midland and the
Tittabawassee River floodplain in Michigan. The
objective of this study is threefold: (1) to evaluate
dioxin levels in soils; (2) to evaluate the spatial
variations in breast cancer incidence in Midland,
Saginaw, and Bay Counties in Michigan; (3) to evaluate
whether breast cancer rates are spatially associated
with the dioxin contamination areas.
We acquired 532 published soil dioxin data samples
collected from 1995 to 2003 and data pertaining to
female breast cancer cases (n = 4,604) at ZIP code level
in Midland, Saginaw, and Bay Counties for years 1985
through 2002. Descriptive statistics and self-organizing
map algorithm were used to evaluate dioxin levels in
soils. Geographic information systems techniques, the
Kulldorff's spatial and space-time scan statistics, and
genetic algorithms were used to explore the variation in
the incidence of breast cancer in space and space-time.
Odds ratio and their corresponding 95% confidence
intervals, with adjustment for age, were used to
investigate a spatial association between breast cancer
incidence and soil dioxin contamination.
High levels of dioxin in soils were observed in the
city of Midland and the Tittabawassee River 100-year
floodplain. After adjusting for age, we observed high
breast cancer incidence rates and detected the presence
of spatial clusters in the city of Midland, the
confluence area of the Tittabawassee, and Saginaw
Rivers. After accounting for spatiotemporal variations,
we observed a spatial cluster of breast cancer incidence
in Midland between 1985 and 1993. The odds ratio further
suggests a statistically significant (alpha = 0.05)
increased breast cancer rate as women get older, and a
higher disease burden in Midland and the surrounding
areas in close proximity to the dioxin contaminated
These findings suggest that increased breast cancer
incidences are spatially associated with soil dioxin
contamination. Aging is a substantial factor in the
development of breast cancer. Findings can be used for
heightened surveillance and education, as well as
formulating new study hypotheses for further research.
years now we have read, scrutinized and shared with you, MDEQ and EPA’s
frequent and critical comments on Dow Chemical’s derelict work plans,
insufficient response to agency concerns and creation of the company’s own
scientific guidelines while ignoring those established by regulatory
The end of
July found the Trustees to the Natural Resource Damage Assessment also
weighing in heavily with critical comments on Dow Chemical’s work plans for
the Saginaw River, floodplain and Bay. Dr. Lisa Williams of US Fish and
Wildlife Service notified Dow’s Mr. Ben Baker of those deficiencies on
behalf of the Trustees in a letter dated July 30th 2008.
By way of
history the work plans for the Saginaw River, floodplain and bay were sent
to MDEQ in December of 2007.MDEQ approved those plans with modifications and
the support of EPA in February 2008. Dow resented those modifications and
went ahead in defiance of MDEQ and EPA and resubmitted yet again another
round of work plans that were –you guessed it, once again deficient.
of the NRDA is to assess the loss of natural resources, the injuries
incurred to those resources in the region as a result of the release of
contaminants from the Dow facility. The goal of the NRDA is to restore
injured natural resources and the services they provide--An accurate
assessment of those injuries and losses are incumbent on Dow Chemical
producing solid science based work plans.
process is distinct from Dow’s obligations under RCRA but the work of the
Trustees does run a parallel track; the Trustees weigh in on almost every
activity surrounding Dow’s actions on the river. Hence the lengthy comments
to Dow in July from the Trustees.
As you may
recall there were several local media reports in June of 2007surrounding the
NRDA process relative to Dow’s contamination. At that time the Chamber of
Commerce and Dow held a number of meetings where officials created a wish
list of sorts in the form of compensation/amenities (translate $) from Dow
Chemical upon completion of the NRDA. I believe the same type of meeting was
held in Bay City a little later in the summer of ’07.
municipalities deserve to be compensated and the river system made whole as
best can be done. Yet once again this company falls flat on its butt in
delivering quality work to make compensation and restoration a reality
-----and it is my design. It is in Dow’s financial best interest to limit
the full categorization of the Saginaw River and Bay with regard to the NRDA
as well as their RCRA obligation that direct the cleanup process. When
Dow short shrifts the RCRA process they are directly impacting restitution
to communities under the NRDA. Frankly all the agencies are trying to
save time and money by coordinating activity—Dow however, wastes their time
and our tax dollars by deliberately submitting limited and deficient work
and creating delays. The company’s penchant for delays has now become
Some of the
Provide a work plan that will sufficiently characterize
the nature and extent of the contamination in the Saginaw River,
floodplain, and Saginaw Bay
Expand investigations activities: specifically, field
Provide a complete and unbiased summary of the Saginaw
River and Bay ecology
Provide a complete and unbiased summary of human services
provided by natural resources
Assertions that the Dow funded Michigan State University
Study indicates no adverse impacts to ecological receptors is premature
and cannot yet be independently evaluated as the study is not complete
and the results are not yet available.
The description and summary of the fish consumption
advisories for the Saginaw river and Bay are grossly
The work plan does not address the linkage between the
Saginaw River and Bay
comments total 13 pages in which they lay out clearly for Dow where their
deficiencies are and what is needed to remedy those failings. We’ll see if
want much better sampling than Dow is proposing. Dow’s contractors ATS did a
great job utilizing Geo-Morph for sampling in the Tittabawassee River and
flood plain—Dow need not re-invent the wheel on the Saginaw River and Bay.
Fact is Dow just doesn’t want to do it. Dow is proposing limited sampling in
the upper Saginaw, very limited sampling in the lower Saginaw, no sampling
in the floodplain and nothing in the Bay. What are they hiding? In
addition Dow only wants to address dioxins and furans and NONE of the other
dozen other chemicals of concerns released to the river by the company.
it has been very quiet since about May of this year. There has been no
testing by Dow on the Saginaw River this summer as envisioned and litigation
by Dow against MDEQ to delay and avoid sampling, which by the way is
required under the company’s license, still looms.
concerned that the Granholm administration will appease Dow Chemical and
agree to less than a full characterization of the Saginaw River, floodplain
and Bay thereby undermining a comprehensive cleanup, resource
restoration and full compensation to the communities under the NRDA.
you to go to the TRW web site to read the July 30th comments of
the Trustees to the irresponsible and recalcitrant Dow Chemical.
Click here for
all the details or here for Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003
10/11/08 Dow Work Plan flawed: limited
and full of biased information
Excerpts form the Trustees for the Natural Resource Damage
Assessment (TRSAA) comments sent to Dow on July 30, 2008:
The Trustees of the Tittabawassee River System Assessment Area (TRSAA) have
prepared these general comments on the Saginaw River and Floodplain and Saginaw
Bay, Michigan, Remedial Investigation Work Plan (RIWP) Volume 1 of 3 (ENVIRON,
Currently, the RIWP and associated documents need improvement before they can
assist in making informed decisions for future sampling, assessment, remediation
and restoration decisions due to the limited and biased information presented
therein. The RIWP presents a large number of summary conclusions, often without
scientific support or attribution. Such conclusory statements are premature
prior to conducting the remedial investigation (RI), and are inappropriate in
the work plan other than as specific justification for the design of RI
The characterization of the nature and extent of the contamination proposed by
Dow in the RIWP appears to be insufficient to support remedial decisions. The
objectives stated in the RIWP do not appear to be fully achievable based on the
work plan as written. The sampling as described appears to be insufficient to
fully determine pathways, estimate risk, produce a feasibility study, or begin
to determine a final remedy. Further, it is insufficient for the delineation of
the degree and spatial and temporal extent of exposure and injuries to natural
We, the Trustees, do not agree with the conclusions drawn in this report
regarding injuries to natural resources or loss of their associated service from
the past, the present, or the future. We are currently conducting a NRDA
following an assessment plan and attempting to maximize efficiencies by doing so
in part cooperatively with Dow. Nonetheless, we will ultimately make our own
determinations regarding injuries to natural resources and the services they
provide. We want to be clear that we do not implicitly accept the broad
assertions and claims in this document.
Current Conditions Sections 3.1.1-3.1.5 should be analyzed in the
context of the intent of the work plan.
MDEQ’s fish sampling program is sufficiently large such that the State
has determined that there is a risk to the public consuming fish from the
Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and Bay due to dioxins and furans. One
aspect of the current condition of the fishery is that FCAs have been issued
and fish are impacted.
The Bay City Middlegrounds site is under evaluation for groundwater
surface interface compliance. The CCR states that the Middlegrounds is an
ongoing source to the Saginaw River without referencing any supporting data.
What data is this based upon?
Injuries to benthic invertebrates have not been formally assessed and
statements regarding the richness of the community or assertions that any
population decline is due to invasive species need to be supported with
The characterization of contamination appears to be limited to sediment
RIWP states that other abiotic media, including surface water, groundwater,
floodplain soils, will not be sampled
Other excerpts from the report:
Proposed sampling for 2008 is focused exclusively on dioxins
and furans and does not address other contaminants released from the Dow
Dow released hundreds of different contaminants into the
TRSAA over several decades
provides a very limited discussion of other “potential
chemicals of interest”; however, this cursory discussion is largely
confined to a broad-brush discounting of other chemicals of concern.
Measurements to evaluate contaminant mass transport and
deposition are not included in the RIWP. Furthermore, proposed modeling
is focused only on sediment transport, and not on contaminant transport
or contaminant mass.
The work plan does not address the linkage between Saginaw River and
No basis or justification is provided for the proposed sediment sampling
plan, including how sampling locations and the number of samples
Groundwater needs to be investigated:
There is an over-reliance on modeling, without a clear description of
how models might be used or questions the models are being used to
the Conceptual Site Model (CSM) provides no means of relating hazardous
substances sources, assessment endpoints, and potential measures of
effect (including to human health and the environment).
The premise of the CSM and associated sampling is uncertain and
therefore the proposed field measurements may be irrelevant.
Assertions that the Dow-funded Michigan State University study indicates
no adverse impacts to ecological receptors are premature and cannot yet be
independently evaluated, as the study is incomplete and all the
results are not yet available. Only a small subset of the data and results
have thus far been
assembled in reports or published in peer-reviewed scientific publications.
Not all potential receptors were studied and field studies always have
Chapter 3 of the RIWP does not mention the wild game advisories that
have been issued. Reference to these advisories should be included in the
The statement that only private landowners can hunt on their property
without a license leaves the false impression that any adverse impacts to
wild game will only impact the private landowners, and thus have minimal
impacts. This is not true, and the statement should be clarified to indicate
that private landowners can grant access to their lands to licensed hunters.
The description and summary of fish consumption advisories (FCAs) for
the Saginaw River and Bay are grossly misrepresentative. In reading Chapter
3 of the RIWP, one might think that the only advisory issued for the River
nd Bay was in 2007. In fact, advisories have been issued for multiple
contaminants over multiple years, and this should be reflected in the RIWP.
A summary of FCAs is provided in the TRSAA Natural Resource Assessment Plan.
The beach/shore sampling appears limited and does not appear to be
adequate to address direct contact concerns. What demonstration was done to
show these locations are the areas of the greatest risk to the public?
The Current Conditions Report (CCR) draws broad-reaching assumptions
that are not adequately supported by the current data or references