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TRW Archives 2008 4th quarter 10/01/08 - 12/31/08
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12/18/08   EPA is Poised to Cut Deal With Dow Chemical In Waning Days of Bush Administration

Click here for print version of the following Press Release

Lone Tree Council
P.O. 1251, Bay City, Michigan 48706

(Fighting for environmental justice since 1978)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                          CONTACT: Terry Miller                (989)  686-8386                                                                                                                               (989) 450-8097 cell

 December 18, 2008                                                                Michelle Hurd Riddick (989) 793-3313
                                                                                                                              (989) 327-0854 cell

                                                                                              Scott Edwards Waterkeeper Alliance
                                                                                                                             (914) 356-6909

                                                                                                            

Groups Charge EPA is Poised to Cut Deal With Dow Chemical In Waning Days of Bush Administration

 National 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 the non-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 waste permit.

 "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.

 "We 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."

 The 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 cleanup.  Many 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.

 This 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 state: "  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"

 Dow Chemical's contamination site stretches more than 50 miles from the Company's global headquarters to Saginaw Bay, one of the largest watersheds in the Great Lakes.  The contamination is dominated by dioxins, a family of chemicals that are toxic in tiny amounts, and have been found in every species tested in the watershed, including residents of the area Fish consumption warnings stretch into Lake Huron, one of the Great Lakes.  Dioxin can disrupt vital functions at infinitesimally small amounts, and has been linked to immune system suppression, diabetes, endometriosis, cancer, birth defects, and a host of other health problems. 

 

Letter to Administrator Johnson US EPA Washington DC

Administrator Stephen Johnson
US Environmental Protection Agency
Washington DC

December 17, 2008

Dear Administrator Johnson,

The Environmental 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 and RCRA.

In March 2008 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 RCRA. 

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 contact. 

 Sincerely,

Scott Edwards
Water Keeper Alliance
50 S Buckhout
Suit 302
Irvington, NY 10533
914.674.0622, x13

Lana Pollack, President
Michigan Environmental Council 
119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 2A
Lansing, Michigan 48912

Rita Jack
Sierra Club, Mackinac Chapter
109 East Grand River
Lansing, MI 48906

Cyndi Roper, Director
Michigan Clean Water Action

East Lansing
1200 Michigan Ave., Ste. A
East Lansing, MI 48823

Lisa Wozniak
Executive Director
Michigan League of Conservation Voters
Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
213 W. Liberty St, Ste 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Kathy Henry
Tittabawassee River Watch

2935 Shattuckville Road 
Saginaw, MI 48603

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council
989-799-3313
989-327-0854 cell

Terry Miller
Chair, Lone Tree Council
Bay City, MI
989-450-8097 cell
989-686-6386

Tracey Easthope
Director, Environmental Health Project

Ecology Center
117 N Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Cc:
Lisa Jackson
Carol Browner
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Susan Bodine
Lynn Buhl
Grant Nakayama

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12/16/08  We 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 end.

 

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.

 

Sincerely,

 

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

Saginaw, MI

 

Terry Miller

Lone Tree Council

Bay City, MI

 

Kathy Henry

Tittabawassee River Watch

Saginaw Twp

 

Tracey Easthope

Ecology Center

Ann Arbor, MI

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12/15/08  Media 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
Published: Monday, 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 Alternative Site.

 
 
    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.

Snip
    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 said.

    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 contamination issue.

    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 efforts.
 

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12/15/08  EPA's latest correspondence with Dow and Environmental groups

bullet EPA Special notice letter to Dow 12/15/08
bullet EPA itemized bill to Dow for services rendered
bullet Administrative settlement agreement and Order on consent for RI, FS, and RD
bullet Statement of Work (SOW)
bulletAll of the above sent with cover letters to TRW, Lone Tree Council, Sierra Club,  and Ecology Center
bullet TRW
bullet Lone Tree Council
bullet Ecology Center
bullet Sierra Club

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12/06/08  140,000 ppt dioxin cells found along riverbank

For those unable to attend the November dioxin quarterly meeting last month, click here to view the transcript.
 
One 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 hexachlorobutadiene, hexachlorobenzene, 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.

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11/24/08  Response to Midland withholding information on dioxin

Mr. Maltby,

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
 

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11/20/08  Midland withholding information on dioxin

TRW

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 city.

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:

bullet

Residential areas – 5 to 270 ppt (parts per trillion)

bullet

Virginia Park – 13 to 410 ppt

bullet

Emerson park – 5 to 100 ppt

bullet

Caldwell Boat Launch – 18 to 270 ppt

bullet

Bullock Creek Elementary School – 15 to 2,400 ppt

bullet

Longview Elementary School – 15 to 2,300 ppt

bullet

Midland Academy of Advanced & Creative Studies (Mapleton) – 15 to 350 ppt

bullet

Central Middle School – 12 to 350 ppt

bullet

County 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?

Sincerely,
Richard A. Maltby
Midland Michigan

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11/9/08  Riverside Boulevard neighborhood dioxin cleanup status

bullet The MDEQ meeting 11/7/08 revealed that Riverside Boulevard residents are satisfied with cleanup so far.  This neighborhood is located near the spot where the initial dioxin contamination was revealed to the public back in 2002 after a Lone Tree Council FOIA demonstrated that the former MDEQ administration was covering up the discovery.  View the "Long Shadow" documentary for a close-up of the early days in this saga including interviews with a Riverside resident who regularly consumed contaminated eggs from his free range chickens.
bulletRecent 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 handled.
bullet Riverside Neighborhood EPA Pollution Status Report

EU001 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.  
 

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11/09/08 ATSDR drops key dioxin measures, 1000 ppt eliminated from guidelines

Environmental Policy Alert

November 5, 2008

ATSDR DROPS KEY DIOXIN MEASURES, BOLSTERING STRICT CLEANUP EFFORTS

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 target.

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, facility.

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
 

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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.

Click here to view the order

Click here to view past court activity

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11/05/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update

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. 
 
Supporting materials are available at the following location: http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3312_4118_4240-53424--,00.html
 
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.  
 
 
Cheryl Howe
Environmental Engineering Specialist
Hazardous Waste Management Unit
Hazardous Waste Section
517-373-9881/517-373-4797 Fax
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 48933
 

Click here for Dioxin Updates going back to February 2003 WB01727_.gif (697 bytes)
10/29/08 Non Hodgkin's lymphoma risk and past dioxin emissions

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 population scale.

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 study area.

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

Published on: 2008-10-28

http://7thspace.com/headlines/296302/non_hodgkins_lymphoma_risk_and_past_dioxin_emissions_from_municipal_solid_waste_incinerators.html
 

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10/29/08 Dioxin tied to metabolic syndrome in Japan

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: 10.1289/ehp.0800012.

 
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 chemical contaminants.

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 more likely.

http://www.ehponline.org/docs/2008/0800012/abstract.html

Click here for full study results

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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

Dajun Dai  and Tonny J Oyana

Environmental Health 2008, 7:49doi:10.1186/1476-069X-7-49

Published: 21 October 2008

Abstract (provisional)

Figure 5- Breast cancer cases per 100,000 females, and purely spatial clustersBackground

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.

Methods

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.

Results

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 areas.

Conclusions

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.

Click here to view Environmental Health website posting of this study and peer review comments

Click here to view complete study

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10/12/08 Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin update

  

 NRDA Trustees comment on Dow’s shoddy work plans

 

For several 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 agencies.

 

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.

 

The purpose 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.

 

The NRDA 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.

 

Local 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 legendary.

 

Some of the Trustees’ comments

 

bullet Provide a work plan that will sufficiently characterize the nature and extent of the contamination in the Saginaw River, floodplain, and Saginaw Bay

 

bullet Expand investigations activities: specifically, field measurements

 

bullet Provide a complete and unbiased summary of the Saginaw River and Bay ecology

 

bullet Provide a complete and unbiased summary of human services provided by natural resources

 

bullet 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.

 

bullet The description and summary of the fish consumption advisories for the Saginaw river and Bay  are grossly misrepresentative…………..

 

bullet The work plan does not address the linkage between the Saginaw River and Bay  

  

 

The Trustee 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 Dow delivers.

 

The Trustees 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.

 

In closing, 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.

 

We remained 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.

 

I encourage you to go to the TRW web site to read the July 30th comments of the Trustees to the irresponsible and recalcitrant Dow Chemical.

  

 

Best Regards,

 

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

 

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

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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, 2008b),...

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 investigations. ...

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 resources. ,,,
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.

bulletCurrent Conditions Sections 3.1.1-3.1.5 should be analyzed in the context of the intent of the work plan.
bulletMDEQ’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.
bulletThe 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?
bulletInjuries 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 data.
bulletThe characterization of contamination appears to be limited to sediment sampling. The
RIWP states that other abiotic media, including surface water, groundwater, and
floodplain soils, will not be sampled

Other excerpts from the report:

bullet

Proposed sampling for 2008 is focused exclusively on dioxins and furans and does not address other contaminants released from the Dow plant.
bullet

Dow released hundreds of different contaminants into the TRSAA over several decades

bullet

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.

bullet

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.

bullet
The work plan does not address the linkage between Saginaw River and the Bay.

bullet
No basis or justification is provided for the proposed sediment sampling plan, including how  sampling locations and the number of samples were determined.
bullet
Groundwater needs to be investigated:
bullet
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 answer
bullet
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).
bulletThe premise of the CSM and associated sampling is uncertain and therefore the proposed field  measurements may be irrelevant.
bulletAssertions 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 limitations.
bulletChapter 3 of the RIWP does not mention the wild game advisories that have been issued. Reference to these advisories should be included in the RIWP.
bulletThe 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.
bulletThe 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.
bulletThe 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?
bulletThe Current Conditions Report (CCR) draws broad-reaching assumptions that are not adequately supported by  the current data or references

Click here to view the actual documents:  Cover letter   Trustee Comments

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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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