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TRW Archives 2009 3rd quarter 07/01/09 - 09/30/09
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9/30/09 EPA: U of M dioxin study of limited value to evaluate human exposure


CONTACT: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050,

(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.

EPA's 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 UMDES results:

* 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 dusts.

* 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 area.

* 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 . See the EPA review's findings and the dioxin science plan at .

Click here to read the EPA report

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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.

The 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 outdoors.

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

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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

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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 flooded.

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:

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9/18/09 EPA says it will not extend Dow negotiations

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:  

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9/1/09 MDCH study reports 0.4% of riverbank clean

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.

EU001 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.

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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 few weeks.

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: .To subscribe to the listserv, send a blank message to . See MDEQ's dioxin website for additional information about efforts to address contamination in the Tri-Cities area: .

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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.

bulletTheir Conclusion
bullet"A party seeking class certification bears the burden of establishing that each of the prerequisites
for class certification in MCR 3.501(A)(1) is in fact satisfied. It is not sufficient for a certifying
court to simply accept a party's assertion that the prerequisites are met. When it is necessary to
look beyond a party's assertions in order to assess whether the prerequisites for class certification
are met, a certifying court should do so without delving into the merits of the underlying claims

Because the circuit court potentially used an evaluative framework that is inconsistent with this
Court's interpretation of the rule and articulation of the proper analysis for class certification, we
remand this case to the circuit court so that it may at least clarify its reasoning for ruling that
MCR 3.501(A)(1)(c) and (d) were met, in light of this Court's decision today."
bulletElizabeth A. Weaver, Marilyn Kelly, Michael F. Cavanagh, Diane M. Hathaway
bulletNews Media Coverage
bulletThe Michigan Messenger: Michigan Supreme Court Punts on Dow Class Action Suite
bulletAssociated Press: Michigan Court looks orders new look at Dow dioxin lawsuit
bulletWhat's it all mean? (just an opinion, not a legal opinion)
bulletBecause Judge Borrello did not have the benefit of the Supreme Courts opinion when he
issued the class certification order, the Court remanded the case to him so he can clarify
parts of his order. The Court says that if he feels he has already done a rigorous analysis,
he only needs to clarify the portions of his order on typicality and adequacy of the class reps.
bulletDow did not prevail on their challenge to the other 3 requirements of Class Certification:
bulletIs the class is so numerous that joinder of all members is impracticable;
bulletIs there are questions of law or fact common to the members of the class that
predominate over questions affecting only individual members;
bulletThe maintenance of the action as a class action will be superior to other
available methods of adjudication in promoting the convenient administration
of justice.
bulletView Opinion

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07/23/09 Recent EPA updates: Municipal Water Sampling of areas drinking water sources

List of contaminants to be analyzed. Click to view Municipal Water Sampling

Community members have raised questions about U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigational dredging in the Saginaw River. The concern is whether sediments re-suspended during the dredging will move downstream into Saginaw Bay and affect drinking water intakes. In response to this concern EPA agreed to testing at the water plants for Midland, Saginaw and Bay City. (Midland and Saginaw share a water intake in Saginaw Bay, but have separate drinking water treatment plants.)

EPA is planning two rounds of sampling. One round of sampling will be collected during a period of no dredging activity and the second round will be collected while dredging is underway. Samples will be collected of both the water entering the municipal water treatment systems and of the treated water sent to the communities. EPA plans to analyze the samples for a wide range of chemicals including dioxins, furans, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics, PCBs, pesticides and metals.

EPA is scheduled to collect the first round of samples the week of July 27, 2009. These samples will be collected during a period of no dredging activity since the Corps of Engineers stopped dredging the week of July 6, 2009. EPA's schedule for collecting samples while dredging is underway is dependent upon when the dredging resumes. EPA will provide an update when the schedule for collecting theses samples has been finalized.

TRW Note: It's not just for Dioxin.
 Click on picture above for other
 contaminants of concern

bullet Field Sampling Plan for Midland/Saginaw/Bay City Water Supply (PDF) (27pp, 1.5MB) July 2009


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07/21/09 Recent EPA updates: Dow Negotiations Update #2

Negotiation Update #2: Negotiation Meeting Update

During the week of July 13, 2009, EPA and MDEQ held a multi-day negotiation meeting with The Dow Chemical. The most significant topics were:

bulletHow to foster consistency in meeting RCRA license and CERCLA obligations
bulletCoordination between EPA and MDEQ under an order
bulletHow to integrate existing data into Dow’s characterization work under an order
bulletHow to organize the rivers and bay into manageable components for conducting work
bulletHow to integrate the current RCRA "contaminants of interest" list into future Superfund investigatory work
bulletHow to resolve disputes under the order

The Natural Resource Damage Trustees were represented during the meeting. In Superfund, responsibility for protection of natural resources falls with federal, state, and tribal trustees. This is because no one individual "owns" a natural resource; rather, they are held in trust for the public. More information is online

EPA, MDEQ and the trustees are tentatively scheduled to meet with Dow in August to continue discussions. EPA will provide another update on the negotiations after that meeting. The negotiations will continue at least until August 25, 2009. EPA may extend this deadline if progress is being made during the negotiations. EPA’s fact sheet, "Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site," provides more details about the topics that will be discussed during the negotiations.

bulletEPA fact sheet "Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site"

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07/21/09 Recent EPA updates: Community Advisory Group forming

EPA Workshop to Discuss Community Advisory Group

Please join us at a public workshop to discuss the formation of a community advisory group for the Superfund cleanup of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and Saginaw Bay (Dow site). The workshop will be from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 15.

A Superfund community advisory group or CAG is a way for people in the community to participate in providing coordinated, local input to the decision-making process at Superfund sites. It is a forum for community members to present and discuss their needs and concerns related to Superfund cleanup projects. A CAG assists U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in making better decisions by providing the Agency a unique opportunity to hear and seriously consider community preferences for site cleanups.

At large and complex Superfund projects like the Dow site, CAGs can serve a critical role in ensuring all community issues are understood and considered. CAGs also work as a conduit making sure needed information is provided to area residents. EPA wants to work with the local communities to establish a CAG for this site.

bulletFact sheet about Aug. 15 workshop (PDF) July, 2009
bulletMore information about community advisory groups

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07/21/09 Recent EPA updates: West Michigan Park Cleanup done until next flood?

West Michigan Park cleanup completed

EPA has finished work at Saginaw Township's West Michigan Park. The cleanup got underway on April 27 and included the removal of more than 17,000 tons of dioxin-contaminated soil. Last week contractors finished up by installing guardrails and paving the parking lot and by planting 5,000 native plants along the shoreline. The park will be reopened after the new grass and plants have had time to get reestablished -- likely by mid-August.

bulletPollution Report: POLREP #5 (PDF) July 17, 2009
bulletWest Michigan Part Exposure Unit 2 web site (a few of the pictures available shown below)

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07/20/09 Dow to pay for fish advisory signs on river

As reported in the Michigan Messenger

Note sign depicted may not be new version to be postedDow 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

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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

Mr. Maltby  a retired professional urban and environmental resource planner  is a member of the American Institute of Certified Planers (AICP) and the American Planning Association.  He has 38 years of experience in Michigan, Illinois, and New York; the most recent as the Midland county planning director from 1983-1998. 

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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 Consumption Guide

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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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