TRW Archives 2009 3rd quarter 07/01/09 - 09/30/09
9/30/09 EPA: U of M dioxin study of limited
value to evaluate human exposure
EPA REVIEWS UNIV. OF MICHIGAN DIOXIN STUDY; FINDS LIMITED APPLICATION TO
TITTABAWASSEE RIVER AND SAGINAW RIVER AND BAY
CONTACT: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, firstname.lastname@example.org
(CHICAGO - Sept. 30, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of
Research and Development has completed its review of a dioxin exposure study
conducted by the University of Michigan in the Midland-Saginaw, Michigan area.
EPA found the study was conducted well and provided useful, scientifically
credible information. However, the study is of limited value to help EPA fully
evaluate human exposure to levels of dioxin in the Tittabawassee River and
Saginaw River and Bay.
review was conducted under the dioxin science plan announced by Administrator
Lisa P. Jackson this past May. The University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study
(UMDES) was conducted in response to community concerns that dioxin compounds
from the Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. had contaminated the city and
surrounding areas. The University received financial support for the UMDES from
Dow through an unrestricted grant. Primary data collection was completed in
2004-2005 and the analysis of study results continues.
EPA's review identified several significant issues that limit the utility of the
* The study did not include children, who tend to have higher exposures to
contaminants because they have more contact with, and ingestion, of soils and
* It is unclear if the study included a sufficient number of properties with
highly-contaminated soils. Such properties can be found in the Midland-Saginaw
* It is uncertain how well the study represented people who participate in
activities that could lead to elevated dioxin exposures, such as eating local
fish and game with elevated dioxin levels.
Additionally, the UMDES included no health status information on the people
surveyed. Thus, the UMDES data do not support analysis of the association
between dioxin blood levels and possible health effects. Understanding these
issues is critical when evaluating associations between exposure and blood
dioxin levels in sensitive populations, including children. Also, the site
specific data collected by the study will not be relevant as EPA revises its
national interim preliminary remediation goals for dioxin in soil.
The study included more than 900 participants and provided estimates of the
distributions of dioxin concentrations in blood, soil and dust in the
Midland-Saginaw area as well as a reference area for comparison 100 miles to the
south. EPA's review found that the UMDES was well-suited to identify patterns of
serum dioxin, furan and PCB levels among adults. Among the study's other
findings: people living the Midland-Saginaw area have higher blood dioxin levels
than those in the reference area and national averages, and that properties in
Midland-Saginaw tend to have higher soil dioxin levels than in the reference
area. As has been found in other studies, it also found that higher blood dioxin
levels were associated with demographic factors such as increased age, dietary
choices and being overweight.
Representatives from EPA's Office of Research and Development and Office of
Solid Waste and Emergency Response will hold a public meeting in the
Midland-Saginaw area in late October to discuss the UMDES review. More
information will be announced soon.
See information on the UMDES and journal articles at
http://www.sph.umich.edu/dioxin/index.html . See the EPA review's findings
and the dioxin science plan at
Click here to
read the EPA report
9/29/09 DNR sends mixed messages on hunting?
As reported by NBC TV 25:
An encouragement, and a warning from the Michigan Department of Natural
Resources. It's telling you to hunt in Michigan, but also telling you that the
game may be poisonous.
It's seems like a mixed message. That's why NBC25 called the Michigan Department
of Natural Resources for clarification this hunting season.
2009 Michigan Hunting and Trapping Guide, put out by the Michigan
Department of Natural Resources, has a full spread of a Pure Michigan Hunt.
It encourages people to buy hunting licenses and enjoy Michigan's great
However, on page 33, it says game taken from the flood plains of the
Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River contains high levels of dioxin, and that
"eating deer, turkey, squirrel, wood duck or canadian geese that contain dioxin
at these levels could result in adverse health effects." ....
Click here for details
9/23/09 EPA and Dow to reach agreement on
clean-up plans in October?
As reported by the Saginaw News:
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Environmental
Quality representatives say the talks, which wrapped up Friday, “will likely
result in a proposed agreement on an administrative order on consent to
comprehensively address dioxin and other Dow Chemical contamination along the
Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River and Bay.”
Officials say they could sign an agreement by Thursday, Oct. 15. ...
Click here for details
9/23/09 EPA does not anticipate relocations in
areas continually flooded
As posted in the Michigan Messenger
It's been four months since the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
initiated new dealings with Dow Chemical over the handling of dioxin
contamination in Michigan's Saginaw River watershed and the agency says it
expects its closed-door cleanup framework negotiations with the company to
conclude by Friday.
Dioxin, an intensely toxic and cancer-causing byproduct of chemical
manufacturing operations at Dow's Midland complex has contaminated the
downstream ecosystem, binding with sediments in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw
rivers and Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay.
The river contamination has special meaning for people living in the
Tittabawassee's floodplain because periodic flooding can deposit toxic sediments
in and around their homes. In many cases the dioxin levels in the soil around
these homes is hundreds of times higher than state allowable limits.
In 2005, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality identified 103
properties near the Dow plant in Midland and 351 along the Tittabawassee River
where flooding inundates or comes within 20 feet of a residence. These were
deemed "Priority 1? - areas that required immediate cleanup. State agencies
issued advisories warning residents to reduce dioxin exposure by wearing masks
while gardening and keeping children from playing in yards that had been
EPA has acknowledged the health risks posed by dioxin in the watershed. In a
statement this spring, EPA Director Lisa Jackson called the contamination a
public health threat and promised swift action.
Yet, at a public meeting held by EPA in Saginaw in June, the agency proposed a
phased cleanup plan that stretches into 2018 and the director of the national
Superfund program, Mathy Stanislaus, said the agency does not intend to relocate
people who live in the contaminated zone. ....
Click below for the full story:
9/18/09 EPA says it will not extend Dow
EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
and the Natural Resource Trustees have held several conference calls with The
Dow Chemical Co. since negotiations were extended on Aug. 24. The negotiations
will continue at least until Sept. 25, 2009. EPA is not expecting to extend this
deadline. EPA will provide an update on the outcome of the negotiations the week
of Sept. 28, 2009.
EPA's fact sheet "Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site" provides
more details about the topics that are being discussed during the negotiations:
9/1/09 MDCH study reports 0.4% of riverbank
The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has determined that dioxin
contaminated soil and dust on properties in a residential area of the city of
Saginaw do not pose a current public health hazard following a clean up
completed in 2008.
The area of the study spans 1000 feet (~0.4%) of
the estimated 232,320 feet of river bank in the 22 mile stretch of the of the
river downstream of the Dow Chemical plant in Midland.
is located along a private road and is generally located approximately 4
miles to the west and 2 miles to the south of the intersection of Interstate
75 and State Route 46 in Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan. EU001 is
approximately 1,000-foot long by 150-foot wide area along the north bank of
the Tittabawassee River just above its confluence with the Shiawassee
River. Riverside Blvd runs through EU001 and is located just south of the
land berm located on the northern edge of EU001. EU001 contains 26 parcels
of property that includes 11 residences and open lots that can be accessed
from Riverside Blvd. Riverside Blvd is privately owned by one of the
neighborhood property owners. EU001 is prone to heavy flooding which lead
to contamination from river sediment deposition. EU001 is located
approximately 22 miles down river from the Midland Plant.
If only the 11 homes of the area could feel
confident that the problem is resolved. Not to mention the estimated 2000+
homes in the rest of the floodplain. Unfortunately, as noted in the
document, the continual flooding of the area will lead to recontamination it.
There have been 4 flood events in the neighborhood this year, no word from the
EPA, MDEQ, or MDCH if retesting has taken place.One of the most
important studies conclusions:
Unfortunately, the title of the first
news media coverage of this event "Saginaw
homes no longer tainted with dioxin"
might lead one to believe that ALL the homes in the flood plain are safe. This
could not be further from the truth.
Click here to view the press release or
here to view the study.
8/24/09 EPA - MDEQ Tri-Cities roundup: Advisory
group workshop Aug. 15
Source: US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency
Aug. 22, 2009 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Michigan
Department of Environmental Quality today reported updates on a number of fronts
in their ongoing effort to comprehensively address dioxin and other Dow Chemical
contamination along the Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River and Bay. Some of
this information was previously announced via EPA's e-mail listserv.
Community Outreach: A workshop to discuss organizing a Community Advisory
Group is set for Saturday, Aug. 15, 9 a.m. to noon, at Saginaw Valley State
University, Regional Education Center room ES202, 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw. A CAG
is a way for people in the community to provide local input to the
decision-making process at Superfund sites. The group will be independent and
will be balanced to represent all the interests and viewpoints in the community.
EPA has hired an independent facilitator to help move the process forward. A
fact sheet with detailed CAG information is available online (see URL below).
EPA opened a community information office June 23 at the Saginaw County
Courthouse, 111 S. Michigan, Room LL015, Saginaw. The office is open Tuesdays
through Thursdays, phone 989-790-5215. Initially, Chicago-based community
involvement coordinators are staffing the office. EPA expects to have both
community involvement and technical staff at the office full-time by this fall.
West Michigan Park: The Superfund cleanup of Saginaw Township's West
Michigan Park is complete. More than 17,000 tons of contaminated soil was
removed, followed by restoration and replanting. To minimize potential impacts
of future flooding at the park, the playground area has been raised slightly
with new equipment installed 12 inches higher than before. Driveway and parking
areas were also replaced and re-paved with asphalt. The park will be reopened
after the new grass and plants have had time to get reestablished, probably in a
Fish Advisory Signage: At the request of EPA and MDEQ, Dow gas provided
funds to update more than 100 signs with current, more restrictive Michigan
Department of Community Health fish consumption information. The signs will be
installed along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers beginning in August. The
signs warn that no one should eat carp, catfish or white bass from the area
downstream of Midland and that consumption of other fish should be limited.
Previously, signs with out-of-date, less restrictive information were posted
along the river.
Drinking Water Analysis: In response to concerns about risks to drinking
water from sediment stirred up by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' navigational
dredging in the Saginaw River, EPA has arranged for sampling and analysis of
water from the Bay City, Saginaw and Midland water treatment plants. To
establish a baseline, a first round of samples was collected when no dredging
work was scheduled. A second round will be collected when the dredging resumes.
During the sampling events, water is collected as it enters the plants and again
once it has been treated and exits into the municipal drinking water systems.
Comprehensive Cleanup Negotiations: EPA and MDEQ's negotiations with Dow
Chemical on a comprehensive approach to address contamination in the
Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River and Bay are expected to continue through
August 25. A week-long session among the three parties was held in Grand Rapids,
July 13 to 17.
Updates describing the negotiations and other site news are distributed on an
ongoing basis via listserv and posted on EPA's web site:
www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical .To subscribe to the listserv, send a
blank message to
email@example.com . See MDEQ's dioxin website for
additional information about efforts to address contamination in the Tri-Cities
area: www.michigan.gov/deq .
08/02/09 Supreme Court renders
Class Certification case back to Circuit Court
Late Friday night, 7/31/09, the Michigan Supreme Court issued its final
opinion on the Class Certification aspect of the case: Rendered back to
the Circuit Court for Judge Borrello to clarify
his 2005 order
pertaining to 2, (Typicality and Adequacy of Class Representatives) of the
5 requirements for Class Certification.
07/20/09 Dow to pay for fish
advisory signs on river
As reported in the
Chemical (NYSE:DOW) has agreed to pay $10,000 so the state of Michigan can post
updated fish consumption advisory signs along the chemically contaminated
Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers, warnings that the Midland-based company has
balked at paying for previously.
Michigan Department of Community Health toxicologist Kory Groetsch said that
around 120 signs will be posted at spots where people are known to fish, with
installation expected to begin in August.
Earlier this summer, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials
warned that people who fish the area are inadequately warned about the dangers
of consuming the fish, a problem documented by Michigan Messenger.
Click here for the rest of the story
07/19/09 Richard Maltby
publishes his last book in the Pollution Signature series
TRW appreciates Mr. Matlby's efforts in keeping track of
Dow's contamination of the Tittabawassee River.
This volume, A Postscript to Implementation
of the Framework Agreement Parts One and Two. , is the latest in a series of books including the Pollution Signature,
The Dioxin Story, and Revival of the Tittabawassee,
The Aftermath, Restoration of a Failed Ecosystem, The Aftermath, a
supplemental report, Implementation of the Framework Agreement,
and Implementation of the Framework Agreement, Part Two
Copies are available in local libraries.
Maltby a retired professional urban and environmental resource planner is a
member of the American Institute of Certified Planers (AICP) and the American
Planning Association. He has 38 years of experience in Michigan, Illinois, and
New York; the most recent as the Midland county planning director from
07/10/09 MDCH releases 2009
Michigan Family Fish Consumption Guide
The Michigan Department of Community Health has released its 2009 Michigan
Family Fish Consumption guide, which helps identifies which fish are safe to eat
in Michigan's lakes, rivers and streams.
2009 Michigan Family Fish