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History of the Polluters Free Ride

12/6/06 HB5872 passes in senate committee.  The bill originally would have required the state to recalculate the criteria based on a report released in July by the National Research Council of the National Academies.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality suggested a substitute, which was passed, that included that the Department "may" recalculate cleanup criteria for dioxin based on the new information.

HB 5872 is a modified version of bill HB4617 vetoed by Governor Granholm in the last moments of 2005 to end another sad chapter in this continuing saga.   Former Dow employees, Representative Moolenaar and Senator Goschka, are responsible for introducing legislation that would essentially free Dow Chemical of many of it's responsibilities for the dioxin contamination of mid Michigan.

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12/6/06ioxin bill 5872 passes in senate committee

12/5/06 Moolenaar's dioxin bill 5872 up in the Senate

6/22/06 Dioxin bill 5872 passes in House; effect uncertain

6/21/06 Moolenaar's dioxin bill 5872 passed by committee

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07/25/06  Politicians Misuse Federal 1000 ppt Dioxin "Action" Level, ATSDR concurs

Lone Tree Council

P.O. 1251, Bay City, Michigan 48706

(Fighting for environmental justice since 1978)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT:

July 25 th, 2006 Michelle Hurd Riddick, 989-799-3313

Terry Miller, 989-686-6386

Tracey Easthope 734-761-3186 x 109

Kathy Henry 989-695-5348

GROUPS CALL ON MID-MICHIGAN LEGISLATORS TO LIFT THE SMOKE SCREEN

Misuse of Federal 1000 ppt Dioxin Level Increases Exposure, Benefits Dow

State representatives should stop misusing a federal 'action level' not designed for setting cleanup standards for the highly toxic chemical dioxin, charged several environmental organizations. 

Groups released a letter today from Howard Frumkin, Director of the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).  The letter was sent in response to a request from environmental organizations for clarification on the ATSDR number, often referenced by Midland-area legislators seeking to weaken Michigan’s dioxin cleanup number. The letter states in part: "...the concept of an ‘Action Level’ for dioxins in soils has sometimes been misunderstood."  The letter directly comments on the use of the1,000 ppt standard in proposed legislation in Michigan.  It states:

"The ‘Action Level’ was intended to trigger consideration of various public health actions.   It was not intended either to define the need for remediation or to serve as a threshold below which there is no public health concern.  The appropriate application of the policy guideline is to compare site-specific data to the 50 ppt screening level, not the 1,000 ppt Action Level, to determine the need for further evaluation."  

Representatives from the mid Michigan area have repeatedly proposed legislation referring to the federal 'Action Level' as a cleanup standard.  This should make clear that that practice is not supported by the intention of the ATSDR's 'Action Level'. The letter goes on to say,

"As you cited in your letter, we understand that certain Michigan state legislators have been referring to our Action Level in proposed legislation to modify the state cleanup for dioxins in soil. This is an example of how our guidelines have been applied in ways that we did not intend."

"What many elected officials have attempted to do is absolve Dow Chemical for contaminating an entire region with dangerous levels of dioxin.  Raising the "safe" level to a non-existent federal level is shameful," said Tittabawassee River resident Kathy Henry.  

"This should put an end to the continued misuse of the ATSDR 'Action Level' by Representative Moolenaar and other legislators who have tried to confuse the public," said Michelle Hurd Riddick of the Lone Tree Council.  "This kind of misrepresentation does not serve the public interest.  It just means more delays, more exposure, and more risk for the public while we should be moving forward with a real cleanup that is protective of public health.  We can't legislate this problem away."

Environmental and community groups that have opposed attempts to weaken that state's protective standard for dioxin in soils include the Lone Tree Council, the Ecology Center, the Michigan Environmental Council, Environment Michigan, the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and Tittabawassee River Watch.

Documents:

bullet Environmental Groups letter to ATSDR requesting discontinuing referencing 1000 ppt"Action" level
bulletDr. Frumkin's response
bullet News article: MDN Dioxin Legislation Opposed 042506
bulletLone Tree Press Release pdf format

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04/23/06
  Moolenaar out of control, the ATSDR 1000 ppt is not a cleanup level

Moolenaar's new un-sound science legislation is proposing 1,000 ppt dioxin cleanup levels for Michigan is a standout for all the WRONG reasons.

The ATSDR 1000 ppt was never intended to be a "cleanup" level:
  1. Michigan’s 90 ppt RDCC soil criterion for dioxin is a level that is meant to be protective of public health in properties for unrestricted residential use.
  2. The ATSDR 1,000 ppt was based on the detection limits of science available over 20 years ago in the 1980's.  Today, scientific instrumentation is much more sensitive and can measure 10 ppt or less.  The Michigan RDCC of 90 ppt was derived using current technology.
  3. The ATSDR 1,000 ppt was calculated based on a 1984 assessment by the Centers for Disease Control that is NOT consistent with the current assessment of dioxin’s cancer hazard.
  4. The 1,000 ppt level was NOT derived as a "safe" level. It was thought to be a level that could be associated with health effects. Cleanup levels are traditionally set at levels BELOW those thought to cause health effects. Therefore, it is not accurate to suggest that levels below 1,000 ppt pose no risk.
  5. Referring to the ATSDR 1,000 ppt level as a cleanup level is not accurate. The 1,000 ppt level is NOT used by ATSDR for that purpose.
  6. The 1,000 ppt level was NOT developed to serve as a standard for cleanup for residential areas
  7. The 1,000 ppt level does NOT represent a line between safe and unsafe conditions, although it has been used in that way
  8. The EPA has been reviewing dioxin’s toxicity for more than 10 years. Their review has been repeatedly peer-reviewed, but political wrangling and the power of the chemical industry have prevented its release. The draft document concludes that dioxin is more toxic than previously thought 
  9. If the EPA reassessment were released, the state’s cleanup standard would be more stringent, not weaker, based on a new interpretation of studies on dioxin’s toxicity. The state standard would be between 12 and 53 ppt.
  10. The 1,000 ppt level does NOT consider non-cancer health effects that may occur when people are exposed to dioxin at even lower levels than those associated with cancer. The most sensitive endpoint for dioxin’s toxicity is thought to be neurobehavioral impacts.
  11. If the state were to use the 1,000 ppt standard, the issue of dioxin’s toxicity will continue to plague the state. When the Dioxin Reassessment is finalized, the EPA will again look at sites and reassess previous actions to determine if they are protective. So a cleanup to 1,000 ppt today will not guarantee that the issue will go away. It could just keep coming up unless contamination is cleaned up to a reasonable and legitimate standard.

Below are letters of support to NOT change Michigan's 90 ppt dioxin RDCC from the last time Dow's stooges tried to change it in June of 2004.

bulletTed Schettler MD, MPH, Department of Internal Medicine Boston Medical Center and Science Director SEHN
bullet"...  State and Federal criteria restrict their focus to cancer as the outcome of concern, though we now know that other health effects occur at lower levels of exposure and may affect the entire population. In fact, due to the array of low-level effects, scientists today are uncertain about the threshold amount of dioxin that may begin to cause or contribute to illness in people. Moreover, dioxin-related health effects are often "hidden" in the general burden of disease and disability in the community. Trying to identify them as "caused by dioxin" is a fruitless task. ..."
bulletClick here to view entire letter
bulletKatherine R. Silberman, JD,  Associate Director Center for Environmental Health
bullet"... .  Dioxin is known to cause cancer in minute amounts.  As an elected official, you bear a deep responsibility to protecting the public’s health.  Please stand up to Dow and instead, stand with the people of Michigan in the pursuit of healthy bodies and a healthy environment for your beautiful state. ..."
bulletClick here to view entire letter
bulletJudith Robinson, Special Projects Director, Environmental Health Fund
bullet"...As an early advocate for veterans on this issue [of dioxin exposure] I found that one of the most tragic aspects of the entire struggle was the record of deceit and cover-up practiced by the government and the chemical companies responsible for the manufacture of dioxin, including the giants Dow and Monsanto...."
bulletClick here to view entire letter
bulletJoseph DiGangi, PhD, Director, International POPs Elimination Project EHF
bullet"... The events unfolding in Michigan are being observed internationally. I direct an international NGO project on persistent organic pollutants (such as dioxin) in partnership with two UN agencies with activities planned in 40 countries. International NGOs as well as intergovernmental agencies are paying close attention to issues involving dioxin and other persistent organic pollutants due to the legal entry into force of the Stockholm Convention. Dow Chemical’s legacy in many of our project countries makes public interest NGOs throughout the world especially focused on events in Michigan to see whether the legislature will support public health by maintaining the 90 ppt standard. ..."
bulletClick here to view entire letter
bulletJames Clift,  Policy Director Michigan Environmental Council
bullet" ... The Michigan Environmental Council opposes HB 5963 and urges the committee to vote "no". The "action level" proposed as our new cleanup standard is inappropriate. As stated above, this level of exposure would cause an "urgent public health hazard" – not a level considered safe for prolonged public exposure. ..."
bulletClick here to view entire letter
bulletPaul Sutton, Chair Vietnam Veterans of America  Agent Orange/Dioxin Committee
bullet" ... Research has repeatedly shown that low levels of dioxin (30ppt – 100ppt) cause the greatest damage to humans and their offspring, from initial exposure out to 30 years and beyond the initial exposure.  Raising the floor at which human tolerance has already demonstrated adverse affect will only serve to expose far more citizens of the Wolverine State and consequently serve to drastically elevate health care costs in future years for those citizens least able to afford them. ..."
bulletClick here to view entire letter
bulletKathy Henry, Tittabawassee River floodplain resident, Freeland MI
bullet"... Were you aware that Midland has the highest level of diabetes in the
nation? There is a very strong link between dioxin exposure and diabetes. There
has never even been a study done of just the affected residents in Midland and
those who live on the highly contaminated Tittabawassee River. ..."
bulletClick here to view entire letter

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04/29/06
  Petition to stop the 1000 ppt cleanup level off to a great start

The kickoff of our petition drive got off to a great start with almost 100 signatures obtained from various locations around the area.

Click here for the latest Lone Tree / TRW Dioxin Update news letter.

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04/14/06
Not a rumor: "HB4617 like" bills are being resubmitted by Dow's legislators

"Once vetoed as a poor protection of public health, the Homeowners Fairness Act is back at the state
Capitol with designs to restrict the state's ability to label any property as contaminated." See related
4/7/06 story below.

Click here for more from the Saginaw News or here from the Midland Daily News

"Moe" Moolenaar    "Larry" Stamas   "Curley" Goschka  

"Moe" Moolenaar       "Larry" Stamas  "Curley" Goschka          

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04/07/06
Rumor: "HB4617 like" bills are being resubmitted by Dow's legislators

bulletGoschka:  To change facility definition
bulletMoolenaar: To change the States RDCC from 90 ppt to 1000 ppt
bulletStamas: To use the U of M study to determine cleanup levels

Click here to read all about similar efforts promoted by the three stooges last year.  Fortunately, Governor Granholm vetoed HB4617.  Men such as these lack the necessary morals, ethics, and concern for the health of Michigan's children to be in office.  So now they want to try again.  What's their motive?  Could it be re-election campaign finance?  To be continued.....

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 03/04/06
New video documentary: "Mr. Damore goes to Lansing" chronicles the HB4617 fight

Paul Damore, a Grand Valley State University student and resident of the Tittabawassee River flood plain, has created a short "opinion" documentary that is now being screened in a number of film festivals in the Grand Rapids area.    The film covers Paul's 2005 journey to Lansing in attempt to testify against the now defunct HB4617 which would have given Dow (and other sites/polluters) a free ride to escape responsibility for the extensive dioxin contamination in our backyards.  Click on the link below to view:

                                  http://www.jreedproductions.com/nowplaying.htm

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Radio Ads against HB4617

  Terry Miller, Lone Tree Council

  Michelle Hurd Riddick, Lone Tree Council

Below, is a chronological history of their activities. This is not the end, expect more of the same
from these charlatans in 2006. Remember, this is an election year, please review the voting records
of the state and local politicians on HB4617and vote accordingly, their records are listed below.

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On Dec 29, 2005, at 10:20 PM, David Holtz wrote:

The House vote on this bill was politics at its very worse. Lawmakers who knew--or should have known
--better supported not only one of the worse environmental bills in 2005, but one of the most
anti-homebuyer, anti-right-to-know measures in memory. Governor Granholm did taxpayers, home
buyers and all who care about holding corporate polluters accountable for cleaning up their messes
a huge favor with her veto. Those who voted for this horrible measure will have to explain to their
constituents why corporate polluters trumped the public interest.

See the roll call vote below

bulletSenate House Bill 4617 SENATE ROLL CALL 661
bulletThese Senators supported the bill to weaken our cleanup law
bulletR Allen District 37
bulletD Barcia District 31
bulletR Bishop District 12
bulletR Brown District 16
bulletR Cassis District 15
bulletR Cropsey District 33
bulletR Garcia District 22
bulletR Gilbert District 25
bulletR Goschka District 32
bulletR Hammerstrom District 17
bulletR Hardiman District 29
bulletR Jelinek District 21
bulletR Kuipers District 30
bulletR McManus District 35
bulletR Patterson District 7
bulletR San Born District 11
bulletR Sikkema District 28
bulletR Stamas District 36
bulletR Toy District 6
bulletR VanWoerkom District 34
bulletOpposed, These Senators opposed the bill to weaken our cleanup law
bulletD Basham District 8
bulletD Bernero District 23
bulletD Birkholz District 24
bulletD Brater District 18
bulletD Cherry District 26
bulletD Clark-Coleman District 3
bulletD Clarke District 1
bulletD Emerson District 27
bulletR George District 20
bulletD Jacobs District 14
bulletD Leland District 5
bulletD Olshove District 9
bulletD Prusi District 38
bulletD Schauer District 19
bulletD Scott District 2
bulletD Switalski District 10
bulletThese Senators did not vote
bulletR Johnson District 13
bulletD Thomas District 4
bulletHouse Bill 4617 Supporting
bulletThese House members supported the bill to weaken our cleanup law
bulletD Accavitti District 42
bulletR Acciavatti District 32
bulletR Amos District 43
bulletR Ball District 85
bulletR Baxter District 64
bulletR Booher District 102
bulletR Brandenburg District 24
bulletR Casperson District 108
bulletR Caswell District 58
bulletR Caul District 99
bulletD Clemente District 14
bulletR DeRoche District 38
bulletD Dillon District 17
bulletR Drolet District 33
bulletR Elsenheimer District 105
bulletR Emmons District 70
bulletD Espinoza District 83
bulletR Farhat District 91
bulletR Gaffney District 1
bulletR Garfield District 45
bulletD Gleason District 48
bulletD Gonzales District 49
bulletR Gosselin District 41
bulletR Green District 77
bulletR Hansen District 100
bulletR Hildenbrand District 86
bulletR Hoogendyk District 61
bulletR Huizenga District 90
bulletR Hummel District 93
bulletR Hune District 47
bulletR Jones District 71
bulletR Kahn District 94
bulletR Kooiman District 75
bulletR LaJoy District 21
bulletR Law, David District 39
bulletR Marleau District 46
bulletD Mayes District 96
bulletR Meyer District 84
bulletR Moolenaar District 98
bulletR Moore District 97
bulletR Mortimer District 65
bulletR Newell District 87
bulletR Nitz District 78
bulletR Nofs District 62
bulletR Palmer District 36
bulletR Palsrok District 101
bulletR Pastor District 19
bulletR Pavlov District 81
bulletR Pearce District 73
bulletD Polidori District 15
bulletR Proos District 79
bulletR Robertson District 51
bulletR Rocca District 30
bulletD Sak District 76
bulletR Schuitmaker District 80
bulletR Shaffer District 59
bulletR Sheen District 88
bulletD Sheltrown District 103
bulletD Spade District 57
bulletR Stahl District 82
bulletR Stakoe District 44
bulletR Steil District 72
bulletR Stewart District 20
bulletR Taub District 40
bulletR Van Regenmorter District 74
bulletR VanderVeen District 89
bulletR Walker District 104
bulletR Ward District 66
bulletR Wenke District 63
bulletD Wojno District 28
bulletThese House members opposed the bill to weaken our cleanup law
Opposed
bulletD Adamini District 109
bulletD Anderson District 18
bulletD Angerer District 55
bulletD Bennett District 92
bulletD Bieda District 25
bulletD Brown District 110
bulletD Byrnes District 52
bulletD Byrum District 67
bulletD Condino District 35
bulletD Cushingberry District 8
bulletD Donigan District 26
bulletD Farrah District 13
bulletD Gillard District 106
bulletD Hood District 11
bulletD Hopgood District 22
bulletD Hunter District 9
bulletD Kolb District 53
bulletD Law, Kathleen District 23
bulletD Leland District 10
bulletD Lipsey District 60
bulletD McConico District 5
bulletD McDowell District 107
bulletD Meisner District 27
bulletD Miller District 31
bulletD Phillips District 29
bulletD Plakas District 16
bulletD Smith, Alma District 54
bulletD Tobocman District 12
bulletD Vagnozzi District 37
bulletD Waters District 4
bulletD Whitmer District 69
bulletD Zelenko District 50
bulletThese House members did not vote
bulletD Cheeks District 6
bulletD Clack District 34
bulletD Lemmons, III District 3
bulletD Lemmons, Jr. District 2
bulletD Murphy District 68
bulletD Smith, Virgil District 7
bulletD Williams District 95

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01/02/06
Post Mortem: Why Governor Granholm vetoed Polluter Free Ride bill HB4617

Anne Woiwode, State Director, Sierra Club Mackinac (Michigan) Chapter wrote:

"Governor Granholm has shot down one of the most outrageous bills to come out of the Legislature in a long time. HB 4617, erroneously labeled by its proponents the Homeowner Protection Act, was vetoed by the Governor on Tuesday (DEQ press release at http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135--133138--,00.html ). The bill, pushed hard by legislators from the Midland area, became worse as it moved through the Legislature, and would have gutted key portions of both the process and the standards for clean up of contaminated sites all over Michigan, both letting responsible parties off the hook for clean up AND leaving many homeowners unable to get any clean up of their contaminated property. Many communities in Michigan would have immediately seen the effect of this appalling shift of burden from the responsible parties to the victims of pollution.

An analysis of the bill provided below points out some of its worst provisions. Although many of these severe flaws were explained to the Legislature by DEQ officials at least 3 separate times in comments on the bill, they were none the less left in the bill. We can only assume, when such disturbing concerns were repeatedly raised and not addressed that the Legislative leaders and proponents of this package intended to gut Michigan’s environmental clean up law. In the press release from the DEQ, Director Steve Chester explained that the bill “would have serious implications for the state’s cleanup program, and would put property owners, the health of residents, and their environment at risk.”

The scary thing about this is that it appears that the proponents of gutting Michigan’s clean up laws are not going to simply get over the Governor doing the right thing by vetoing this bill. Already, and not surprisingly, Russ Harding, who was by far Michigan’s worst director of environmental programs ever, has weighed in with a broadside attack and a grossly distorted interpretation of the bill ( http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=7501 ). Keeping up the myth perpetrated by the folks who clearly are looking to benefit from gutting Michigan’s clean up laws, Harding, now with the Mackinac Center, makes the ludicrous claim that current state law ignores property rights and sound science. As has happened throughout this debate, the proponents of HB 4617 have tried to use verbal slight of hand to distract Legislators and the people in Midland in particular from real goal of this legislative effort: to let Dow and others responsible for contaminating property get out of their responsibility to clean up these messes.

Thanks are due to Governor Granholm and the DEQ for holding firm on a crucial part of the clean up law in Michigan. Please take a moment to let them know you appreciate their stalwart defense of common sense and REAL science -- and while you’re at it, find out how your legislators voted (for House votes go to http://www.michiganvotes.org/RollCall.aspx?ID=168296 , for Senate votes go to

(Analysis drawn from DEQ materials)

bulletPublic Health
bulletWeakens cleanup requirements that protect Michigan’s families from contaminated soil and contamination of the food chain.
bulletBy wasting dollars on unnecessary testing, the legislation will mean less cleanup putting more citizens at risk from contamination.
bulletOur families deserve to have information on contamination that affects their lives. This bill would restrict that information flow and leave citizens unaware of contamination and how to reduce risks.
bulletEnvironment
bulletThe bill would endanger our state’s great resources by preventing the DEQ from stopping contamination polluting our lakes and streams.
bulletThe priority for any cleanup project must be placed on protecting our environment, and our citizens.
This legislation simply creates opportunities for polluters to avoid and delay cleaning up contamination, putting our environment at an even greater risk.
bulletEconomy
bulletThis legislation would waste countless dollars on unnecessary testing, disputes, and delays.
This takes away from money that could go towards clean-up and redevelopment of a contaminated property for productive use.
bulletSupporters of this legislation say that the stigma of a label hurts the economy.
They are wrong. It is the contamination itself that hurts our economy, and we must retain the tools to clean up that contamination quickly and efficiently in order to move our economy forward.

Anne Woiwode, State Director
Sierra Club Mackinac (Michigan) Chapter
109 E. Grand River Avenue, Lansing, MI 48906
517-484-2372 fax 517-484-3108

Enjoy, Explore and Protect -  www.michigan.sierraclub.org  "

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01/02/06
Post Mortem: Why HB4617 guts environmental laws

The language of HB4617 intentionally left out key references to MDEQ Administrative Rules for Part 201, Environmental Remediation, of the Natural Resources and Environmental protection At, 1994.  Click here to view a copy of the rules as posted on MDEQ website 1/2/06.

Section 20120a(8) lists the rules (exposure/transport pathways) that have to be considered in a generic residential cleanup.  The omission of the rules for soil direct contact, sediment cleanup, groundwater contact, and groundwater-surface water contact would prevent the DEQ from considering any of  these criteria for generic residential cleanups.  The pertinent rules are 299.5720, 299.5730, 299.5712, and 299.5716, respectively.  In addition, the omission of R 299.5728 could mean that we would be unable to require response activity to address other risks (such as food chain contamination) that are not ordinarily factored into generic cleanup criteria.  R299.5728 is designed to be called on  when necessary to assure that special circumstances, not considered in development of generic criteria, be addressed as part of a remedial action that poses some additional risk.

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12/27/05
Governor Granholm veto's Polluter Free Ride bill HB4617

Governor Granholm Veto's HB 4617  today
 
                Click here to read the Governor's statement on the veto.
 
Kudos to the Governor for defending public health and Michigan's natural resources.
 
Please call her and thank her for protecting our most treasured resources and our  Great Lakes
 
This veto is one of the most important things the Governor can do to protect the Great Lakes for future generation. She is to be commended for standing up to the legislators who would systematically derail piece by piece the very legislation that has made this state a national leader in environmental stewardship.
  
You can reach the Governor  
  
1-517-373-3400

Lone Tree Council /  TRW

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12/27/05
Detroit Free Press supports veto of Polluter Free Ride bill HB4617

Click here for today's editorial

bullet"ill-conceived bill that would effectively cripple state efforts to respond to pollution problems."
bullet"she should not sign it, and anyone who professes to care about the environment in this state cannot seriously want her to."
bullet"Calling it the "Homeowner Fairness Act" is doubly misleading "
bullet"Moolenaar's bill is an overreaction"
bullet"test for pollution in every individual parcel of a contaminated area and allow the suspected polluter to contest the findings, case by case"
bullet"From a scientific standpoint, such testing also is unnecessary"
bullet"The cost of such testing would be enormous, draining money much better spent on cleanup plans, as would the delays in fixing pollution problems that really do affect property values."

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12/15/05
Over 100,000 people support veto of  Polluter Free Ride bill HB4617

Press Release issued by 22 groups representing over 100,000 people from around the state

bullet Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition
bullet Clean Water Action
bullet Sierra Club
bullet Michigan Interfaith Power & Light
bullet Michigan League of Conservation Voters
bullet PIRGIM
bullet Ecology Center
bullet Michigan Environmental Council
bullet Great Lakes Bioregional Land Conservancy
bullet Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation
bullet Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination
bullet Friends of the Detroit River
bullet Lone Tree Council
bullet HEAT - Hamtramck Environmental Action Team
bullet Michigan League of Conservation Voters
bullet MCATS Michigan Citizens Against Toxic Substances
bullet Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS)
bullet Michigan Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (MI-COEJL)
bullet Kalamazoo Environmental Council
bullet

UAW Region 1A Local 898 Toxic Waste Squad

bullet

MUCC 

bullet

Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice

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12/09/05
Governor Granholm to veto Polluter Free Ride bill HB4617?

Local news  quotes Governor Granholm stating she will veto HB4617:

"This bill is not acceptable," she said. "They've got to go back to the drawing board. It doesn't achieve the balance we need for protecting the health of citizens and creating cost-efficient cleanup."

To Governor Granholm:

On behalf of the hundreds of residents represented by the Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) we want to thank you and encourage you to stay the course on your plans to veto HB 4617 ( S3). Our concern is not with the “facility” designation. Our concern rests with dioxin contamination along the river which caused us to be facility. It is the dioxin that is a problem.

Efforts to detract from the real issue of contamination as well as efforts to malign the DEQ serve the political agenda of Dow Chemical and the City of Midland who have shown little regard for public health or the natural resources of the watershed we all call home.

Our properties will be made whole and the value restored to property and quality of life only if we move forward with cleanup on this contamination. HB 4617 will create confusion and delays.

Yes, we do care about our property values and homeowner fairness. Our properties are impacted by the presence of the dioxin, as is our daily perspective on living in homes and yards surrounded by contamination. There is nothing fair about Dow’s chemical trespass onto our yards.

Again, on behalf of the Tittabawassee River Watch let us extend our appreciation to you for your veto of this legislation.

TRW

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12/13/05
Fair and balanced reporting?

Other than for the headline, today's local news coverage of Granholms possible veto of HB4617, the story is entirely one sided with no input from the homeowners and the rest of the state that want the bill vetoed.   Recently (12/8, see story below), the local newspaper published an article about toxins in the Great Lakes and edited out a key paragraph about the human health effects of dioxin and other compounds.  This pattern was repeated on a local radio station which aired two interviews this morning.  The first segment was with an individual from Midland representing those few which favor Dow Chemical, the second was with Lone Tree Councils Terry Miller, representing the rest of us. The radio host was all warm and gushy with the Dow guy and virtually attacked Terry.  Click on the links below to listen to the Lone Tree radio broadcasts:

bulletTerry Miller, Lone Tree Council
bulletMichelle Hurd Riddick, Lone Tree Council

The Midland/Dow group started running their radio spots yesterday and plan on running full page ads in the Saginaw and Lansing papers promoting the Polluter Free Ride bill.   The Lone Tree Council paid for  two expensive radio ads that ran this week against H4617.  Who is bankrolling the Midland Matters group for it's ads?  Dow?  Chamber of Commerce? Why does a tiny group of  individuals in Midland want to weaken our Michigan's environmental cleanup laws?  It's pretty obvious someone is calling in all it's favors and orchestrating the PR blitz.    Maybe the news media ought to try a little investigative reporting.

Governor Granholm:  Stay the course and veto HB4617. 

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12/09/05
Lone Tree/TRW Dioxin Update

Excerpts from this issue:

bulletSaginaw Chamber of Commerce
bullet It's unfortunate that they view a clean environment as a competing interest. There is an economic  value and quality of life that comes with clean rivers and healthy environments.........the concept however is not lost on all the Chamber members because a couple members saw fit to send the alert to us (see next story).
bullet "Home Owner's Fairness" is smoke and mirrors and so is the " sound science" mantra  and the Chamber knows it. This legislation is designed to benefit Dow Chemical, delay cleanup and it is intended to hamstring the DEQ. If you read the article in the Midland Daily News  you can see the City of Midland taking on DEQ. For two years properties were listed as facilities and not word one from anybody............then the DEQ, enforcing Dow's license, wanted to commence with testing in Midland. All of a sudden being a facility was a problem for Midland and these elected officials.
bullet Our water resources are our greatest economic resource and  one of our greatest quality of life assets. We could only hope that someday the Chamber of Commerce would acknowledge the same.  Tourism remains our third largest  industry. It is the position of the Lone Tree Council that economic development and a clean environment can co-exist and in fact will compliment each other for years to come.
bullet Senate OKs controversial 'facility' bill
bullet Granholm not likely to sign homeowner bill
bullet Great Lakes' healing mechanisms under attack, scientists say
bulletPLEASE CALL GOVERNOR GRANHOLM AT 1-517-373-3400 AND ASK HER TO VETO HB 4617

Click here to view the entire update

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12/08/05
Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce Exposed.

Veronica Horn of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce admits to being the prime Dow stooge behind the scene pressing for the passage of the HB4617 Polluter Free Ride bill.  Take a look at an "Alert" she  emailed yesterday to stir up support from the others in the CC.  Notice that not one word of concern is mentioned about the health and safety of the 1000's of men, women, and children who live in the dioxin contaminated flood plain of the Tittabawassee.   Ken and Veronica Horn have seen the facts and choose to ignore them.  They know the real problem is the persistent and migrating dioxin in peoples homes, yards, and bodies.  IF successful, their quest to eliminate the word 'facility' from our environmental laws will leave a toxic legacy in Michigan for generations to come.  The Horn's, Moolenar, and Goschka have lost touch with their community and now serve one corporate master in Midland.  Remember this the next time you vote, Ken will be up for election soon.  Click on the two links that follow to view Veronica's email.  Page-1  Page-2 (large PDF files, may take a while to load)

Call Governor Granholm immediately and tell her to veto HB4617.  She can be reached at 517-373-3400.  If not vetoed, the result will be more expensive cleanups, slower cleanups, and increased liability for individual property owners whose property may be contaminated.  Residents may actually lose the ability to force polluters to pay.  In addition, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" provisions of the bill would prevent property owners from knowing that their property is contaminated, would prevent future owners from being informed, and would prevent the DEQ from doing anything about it, even if the property owners wanted a clean-up. This bill actually diminishes the rights of owners and future owners of properties and will require Michigan residents to pay for Dow's mistakes.

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12/08/05
Lone Tree/TRW Dioxin Update

Excerpts from this issue:

bulletHB 4617 Passes both the Senate and the House
bulletThanks to Senator Goschka the taxpayers get to pick up some of Dow Chemical's costs.
bulletPLEASE CALL GOVERNOR GRANHOLM AT 1-517-373-3400 AND ASK HER TO VETO HB 4617
bulletReport: Don't kid yourself - toxins persist in the Great Lakes.
bulletAll but one paragraph of this report was printed on front page (not on-line) by the local newspaper.
bulletBelow is the section the left out:
bullet"(The board cites) compelling evidence that contaminants we've known about for decades -- PCBs, dioxin and mercury -- are causing increased disease, reduced IQs and other serious health problems in humans," said Mike Magner, a researcher with the center. "On top of that, they warn that a host of other chemicals -- flame retardants, plastics additives and even cosmetics and health-care products -- may be compounding those problems"
bulletClick here for the complete article

Click here to view the entire update

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12/07/05 Lone Tree Radio Announcements,  HB4617 passed by Senate

Lone Tree Council radio ads are being played on a local radio stations  WGER and WSGW.  If you missed them,  click on the links below.  The announcements tell the truth about Polluters  Free Ride legislation SB390 and HB4617 passed today. The bills re-write Michigan's environmental laws to benefit Dow Chemical & other corporate polluters at the expense of every person living in Michigan. Now EVERYONE IN MICHIGAN must pay for Dows dirty deeds.

The bill include language to the effect that the "Department" (MDEQ?) will reimburse  the polluter if a test sample if negative.  The "Department"? They really mean YOU, the taxpayer. Click here to review the bill.

Dioxin moves through the soils of the flood plain every year after a flood, samples from the same yard may return test results of less than 90 ppt in one spot and over 5000 ppt a few feet  away.  Who determines  where and how much sampling is performed?  

Though the bill passed, it is NOT veto proof, please call Governor Granhlom and let tell her to veto HB4617.   She can be reached at 517-373-3400.  For the fence sitters out there, it's your last chance.

The ads where bought and paid for by the Lone Tree Council.   TRW stands behind every word. 

bulletTerry Miller, Lone Tree Council
bulletMichelle Hurd Riddick, Lone Tree Council

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12/01/05
Lone Tree/TRW Dioxin Update

Excerpts from this issue:

bullet ALL ABOUT HB 4617 S1 BECAUSE IT’S ALL ABOUT DOW CHEMICAL
bullet

Seems a great many people want us to believe this legislation is not about Dow Chemical nor was this legislation drafted for Dow Chemical. Dow Chemical says it’s not taken a position, they cop ignorance by saying they’ve not seen the amended bill introduced by Senator Goschka; the bill which would grant them final authority over contaminated property on the floodplain.

Legislators trying to protect Dow Chemical are proposing to change the way the State manages our cleanup laws with negative consequences for everyone in Michigan.  HB 4617/SB1 would remove the state's ability to designate some property as a "facility" or potentially contaminated.  An amendment would also allow the polluter to decide whether a property can receive the designation.  The result will be more expensive cleanups, slower cleanups, and increased liability for individual property owners whose property may be contaminated.  Residents may actually lose the ability to force polluters to pay! In addition, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" provisions of the bill would prevent property owners from knowing that their property is contaminated, would prevent future owners from being informed, and would prevent the DEQ from doing anything about it, even if the property owners wanted help.

bullet Who is backing and who is lobbying for the HB 4617
bullet

Dow Chemical says they've not taken a position on the legislation and in yesterday’s Saginaw News, Dow went on to say they've not seen the amended version of the bill. Odd! Dow’s lobbyist, Jerry Howell, was in attendance at the Senate Appropriations Committee meeting when the bill was passed. He must have forgotten to turn in his homework.

Dow has everything to gain by the passage of this legislation and they lose nothing

bullet

In the spirit of the season, we are making a list and checking it twice.  The voting record on these bills will determine which politicians receive lumps of coal in their next election campaign.

Click here to view the entire update

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11/30/05 Goschka sneaks in amendment letting Dow decide what is contaminated
bulletState Sen. Michael J. Goschka has added language to a hotly contested environmental bill that would require written consent by the property owner, the state and the polluter before including any property in a contaminated "facility."
bulletThe revised Senate bill essentially  negates the argument that this is about property rights or homeowner fairness,"
bulletThere is nothing fair about giving the polluter control over your property and your children's safety
bulletDow will use the language of the bill to shield themselves from liability, potentially blocking the inclusion of properties in a facility without on-site sampling.
bulletGoschka sneaked in the amendment after the Saginaw Board of Commissioners approved a resolution in support of the bill.  Do they still?  This is exactly what citizens warned the board about last month to no avail.  Will they issue a retraction?  Goschka and the gang are running around Lansing waving the Boards resolution implying they support an amendment they never reviewed.
bulletGoschka is a lame duck Senator, perhaps someone should investigate his finances to determine who is feathering his nest.  Any bets on where his pay check will come from after he leaves office?
bulletMichigan's  "State Board of Ethics" exists, file a complaint.  Click Here.
bulletClick here for a summary posted in the Saginaw News

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11/16/05
Lone Tree/TRW Dioxin Update

Excerpts from this issue:

bullet Representative Carl Williams Health Alert newsletter
bullet Rep Williams votes against HB4617
bullet HB4617 will delay cleanup
bullet The frequently flooded areas of the Tittabawassee River are highly contaminated with dioxin. Hundreds and hundreds of samples demonstrate it beyond a doubt.  As the Tittabawassee River moves and floods and experiences high water events these contaminants are being transported and deposited within the floodplain and down river; a  scientific fact dangerously ignored in this irresponsible piece of legislation. Any sampling data of property is only a snap shot in time altered by the next movement of large volumes of water and contaminated sediment  across property lines and township borders. We keep hearing the call for "sound science"  but these legislators ignore it when the relevance doesn't support their agenda
bullet Goschka amends HB4617 to allow Dow to decided what is cleaned up.
bullet Senator Goschka amended HB 4617 in the Senate Appropriations committee with language which stipulates a homeowner would need the agreement of the responsible party, in this case Dow Chemical,  before their property could be listed as a facility. Unbelievable but true.
bullet MDEQ calls HB4617 "The Polluter Relief Act" because
bullet It shields polluters
bullet Cost Tax payers millions
bullet Make home owners pay
bullet Stymie brown field redevelopment

Click here to view the entire update

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11/11/05
Goschka admits HB4617 bill will delay cleanup

Click here for details from the Saginaw News

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11/10/05
Five Commissioners tell Senate to reject HB4617 and SB309

Sent to members of the Michigan Senate  

 

Tim Novak, Bob Blaine, Cheryl Hadsall, Mike O’Hare, Robert Woods

Saginaw County Commissioners 

Saginaw, MI  48602

  

Dear Senators,

  

We are writing to let you  know of our opposition to SB 390 and HB 4617.  In light of our Board of Commissioners voting to pass a resolution in favor of this poor legislation, we wanted you to know that it was not without opposition and disagreement.

 

While on the surface the intent of the legislation looks to be noble, it will in fact make it more difficult to assure that those responsible for the contamination of the area will address the problem as it affects other people’s property.  Not only will the legislation slow the pace of necessary and already agreed upon cleanup, it will increase the cost of cleanup and redevelopment.

 

We believe that scientists are better suited to decide the area of contamination than politicians.  Your DEQ has studied over 600 soil samples, and using scientific based assumptions, drew a boundary around the area most affected by contaminants.  This area is also targeted for initial cleanup and/or treatment.

 

The bottom line is that the property values of these homeowners may be devalued because of the presence of contaminants, in this case dioxin, NOT because of a property being designated a “facility”.  Disclosure laws still require a homeowner to inform a buyer of contamination.  The legislation will not do what the lawmakers intend it will.  It will only delay the cleanup by the responsible party and increase the cost of cleanup and redevelopment.

 

We urge you to reject this legislation if it reaches your desk. 

 

If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

989-xxx-xxxx (Commissioner Novak’s home phone number)

 

Sincerely,

  

Commissioner     Commissioner     Commissioner     Commissioner    Commissioner   

  Tim Novak          Bob Blaine        Cheryl Hadsall      Mike O’Hare     Robert Woods

 

For additional details on this saga, click here

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11/06/05 Saginaw County Commissioners pass "Polluters Free Ride"  resolution

On October 25, 2005  10 out of the 15 Saginaw County Board Commissioners passed a resolution supporting HB4617 which intends to release of Dow Chemical for any responsibility for the dioxin contamination of the Saginaw Valley watershed.

 

bulletThe mission statement of the board of commissioners charges them with the protection of the health and safety of the people of Saginaw county.  The 10 in support of this resolution obviously never read the mission statement.  They also ignored the pleas of citizens against HB4617 as well as to testimonials of those demonstrating real and present danger to the health of themselves and their children.
bulletSpecial thanks to Commissioners
bulletCheryl Hadsell
bullet Robert Blaine
bulletTimothy Novak
bullet Michael O'Hare
bulletRobert Woods
bullet All the above had the insight and courage to vote against the resolution.  They understand the real implications of this bill  which hurts public health, stalls cleanup and protects the polluter.
bulletA number of TRW members/Residents spoke at the October 11, 2005 public hearing on the resolution.  We also presented a number of documents to further the education of the board members (evidently reading is not one of their skills).
bulletOver 72% of area residents believe that the dioxin contamination presents a moderate to high risk to the health of floodplain residents according to a recent MSU study.  The commissioners supporting this resolution are obviously out of touch with their constituents.
bullet TRW brochure on the issue (origami, print and fold)
bulletCopy of residents letter to Michigan State Legislators against HB4617
bulletCopy of MDEQ letter outlining a multitude of problems with HB4617
bulletRemember these ignorant and/or unscrupulous  politicians supporting the resolution in the next election, they could care less about the health of you or your children:
bulletKenneth Horn - the ring leader
bulletRaymond Bartels
bulletThomas Basil
bulletBregitte Braddock
bulletAnn Doyle
bulletJames Graham
bulletTodd Hare
bulletCarl Ruth
bulletTerry Sangster
bulletPatricia Wurtzel
bullet You can find additional information about the county commissioner at the link below. http://www.saginawcounty.com/Commissioners/index.htm 
bulletReview all the content of www.trwnews.net  and then read the boards resolution.  One especially troublesome point in the resolution:
bullet
bulletThey choose to ignore the facts and instead voted to release Dow Chemical from any responsibility for this mess.   Click here to view the meetings minutes, the resolution activity starts at the bottom of page 35. 

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11/03/05
Lone Tree/TRW Dioxin Update

Excerpts from this issue:

bullet Saginaw Counter Board of Commissioners Disgrace
bullet ...One thing of interest. Several of the residents who spoke in support of the legislation to remove the "facility" from their properties also dismissed the toxicity of dioxin and trivialized its human health impacts in their statements to the commissioners.  Yet many of these residents took advantage of their properties being a "facility" and permitted contractors, this past summer, to come into their homes and clean carpets, wash walls, clean duct work and landscape their yards to minimize their exposure to a chemical they are not worried about?  They would, however, by supporting HB 4617, deny the same interventions to other residents whose homes and properties are contaminated....
bullet ...Someone pointed out that the mission statement of the board of commissioners charges them with the protection of the health and safety of the people of Saginaw county. But heck, they were worried some guy couldn't build a fire pit.  If and when this facility legislation is removed the remaining  properties on the floodplain designated a Priority One or Priority Two may not receive mitigation activity because they will not be considered a facility...........to bad for the mom with kids but we can all find comfort in knowing that fire pit will get built.   Special thanks to Commissioners Hadsell, Blaine, Novak, O'Hare and Woods for voting against the resolution which hurts public health, stalls cleanup  and protects the polluter. You can find your county commissioner at the link below. http://www.saginawcounty.com/Commissioners/index.htm  ...
bullet HB4617 Moving through Senate - What's the rush?
bullet ... Moolenaar and Goschka's zeal to get this done by the first of the year may have  everything to do with Dow's requirements to submit Remedial Work Plans for the Tittabawassee River and Midland by Dec. 31st. HB 4617 is intended to limit the authority and ability of DEQ to enforce Dow's license and pursue one of the worst dioxin  contaminations in the Midwest. It is once again an attempt to relieve Dow of their liability along the river. The best way for Dow avoid responsibility  is to prevent individual properties from being tested and this legislation accomplishes does just that. HB 4617 will piecemeal properties being tested. By design this legislation will impede any large scale cleanup efforts in Michigan's largest watershed. How shameful ...
bullet
... The provisions for the “facility” have been in Dow’s license since the first public hearing in 2002 with no objection from the sponsors of HB 4617. It wasn't until the DEQ began enforcing the license and the law, that these legislators became engaged.  Now Moolenaar and Goschka and Kahn, hiding behind a smokescreen of fairness,  have decided to weigh in on the issue but they have taken up the corner with polluter and special interest. The heck with children, families and the potential for restoration of our watershed. Remember that it was Moolenaar who came to Dow's defense last year and threatened to gut the DEQ budget and eliminate the  division responsible for execution of Dow's license. All because the DEQ insisted on soil samples. All because the DEQ was doing its job.
 
 DEQ's Bob McCann is correct," You don't put the administration of the law into the hands of the person who broke it."  HB 4617 does just that. ...

Click here to view the entire update

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10/05/05
Saginaw County Commissioners to debate "Facility" designation

A resolution in support of Moolenaar's facility designation has bee sent back to
the Saginaw County Board of Commissioner's legislative committee for a full debate.
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.  The image on the left is from the
aftermath of the March 2004 Tittabawassee flood event.  Click on the image to enlarge.
Which of the homes pictured did not receive any dioxin laden soil deposits into their yards?  Which of
them will not be able to hold Dow accountable if the "Facility" bill is passed?

Most of the commissioners do not have a clue of what this bill means to Michigan and are dependent
upon the likes of Goschka and Mollenaar to "explain" it to them.  We strongly urge the board to invite
a representative from the MDEQ to attend the session for a fair and balanced debate. Click here for
the MDEQ's interpretation of the bills impact on state regulatory affairs.

It's obvious that Senator Goschka wants Saginaw County's support to embolden his push for passage in
the senate as designer legislation for Dow Chemical. 

The meeting is October 11 at 3pm in the Commissioner's chambers- 2nd floor at the Saginaw Court House. 

 

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7/21/05  MDEQ mails residents Revised Supplemental Advisory

 Frequently asked questions for owners of property affected by migrating dioxin contamination.

The MDEQ mailed a 4 page newsletter to local residents addressing it's new 'Facility' language contained in a "Revised Advisory".  The revision clarifies language used in the original "Supplemental Advisory Regarding Part 201 Requirements Applicable to Property Contaminated by Dioxin" published in June of 2003.

The newsletter also answers 8 Frequently Asked Questions

bulletWhat is a facility?
bulletWhat are cleanup criteria?
bulletWhy is the term facility important in Part 201?
bulletDoes the DEQ designate a property a facility?
bulletWhat obligations apply to the owners of property that is part of a facility as a result of contamination migrating onto their property?
bulletHow did the DEQ determine which areas of the Tittabawassee River floodplain are part of the facility?
bulletHow did the DEQ determine which areas in the city of Midland are part of the facility?
bulletCan my property be part of a hazardous waste facility?

Click here to view the Revised Advisory newsletter (large 6 mb pdf).  An additional document, "Facility Status under Part 201number 09-009" published July 15, 2005 is available, click here.

Click on image to the left to view a few excerpts from the newsletter clarifying a facility.

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7/19/05  MDEQ clarifies 'Facility" designation

Soil sampling may not be required to designate a property a 'facility'.

As reported in the Midland Daily News:

..."A subtle change to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality policy more clearly defines the term and applies it only to those properties -- 103 in Midland and about 400 in the Tittabawassee River floodplain -- that have been deemed "Priority 1" areas and are undergoing interim remediation activities." ..."Those that already are identified as contaminated and are a part of cleanup plans are included. For others, testing must have confirmed contamination or enough data must exist to make a reasonable inference about the extent of contamination"..."The DEQ argued at House hearings on Moolenaar's bill that the proposal could slow the pace and increase the cost of cleanup statewide, and could limit possibilities of state and local financial incentives for redevelopment of brownfield sites. It also could release polluters from cleanup duties and expense, shifting the responsibility to property owners -- qualification as a facility is a prerequisite for landowners to receive relief"..."The DEQ plans to introduce the clarification to communities at upcoming town hall-style meetings tentatively scheduled for Aug. 17, 24 and 27. Locations have not been confirmed."
Click here for the actual language of the new Part 201 rules.

TRW note: the MDN article infers that a property owner must be classified as a 'facility' before they must disclose suspected dioxin contamination.  This is not true, Michigan Real-Estate Seller disclosure requires a seller to disclose even if they only suspect the property may be contaminated.

Click here for the Michigan Seller Disclosure form and check out item 10:
"Environmental Problems: Are you aware of any substances, materials, or products that may be an
environmental hazard such as, but not limited to, asbestos, radon gas, formaldehyde, lead-based paint, fuel or chemical storage tanks and contaminated soil on the property?"

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7/13/05 State & Federal agencies confirm bodies, homes, & properties contaminated

7/08/05 The ATSDR and MDCH released their ATSDR & MDCH Health Consultation: Exposure Investigation Report: A Pilot Exposure Investigation: Dioxin Exposure in Adults Living in the Tittabawassee River Flood Plain, Saginaw County, Michigan EPA FACILITY ID: MID980994354

bulletThe report was made public on July 13, 2005, the SAME day the Michigan Supreme Court denied floodplain residents the ability to make Dow pay for a trust fund to assist in monitoring their health due to the increased risks of living in Dow dioxin.
bulletOur suspicions are confirmed.  The official report states:
bulletTittabawassee floodplain residents on average have higher blood, home, and property dioxin levels than background levels found in the rest of the country.
bulletNew data in report includes actual blood levels for 2,3,7,8-TCDD.  This is the most toxic of the Dioxin Like Compounds (DLC).  Participant blood levels of this compound are almost double of those found in non-contaminated areas.
bulletThree homes have dioxin levels in their indoor dust that are higher than the states 90 ppt Residential Direct Contact Criteria for soil found OUTSIDE the home
bulletSoil samples collected from 15 properties located at least partially within the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River showed total dioxin TEQ levels greater than the MDEQ residential criterion of 90 ppt for DLCs. These findings further confirm earlier results indicating that elevated DLC levels within the 100-year flood plain downstream of Midland are widespread.
bulletThis report has undergone countless reviews during the 8 months prior to it's release.  Rumor has it Michigan Lt. Governor Cherry had to give final approval to the language of the report before it was released.  Evidently Cherry is now one our top scientist. Seriously, what did the scientist say that was edited out by politicians?
bulletClick here to visit our PEI page for the results of the study.
bullet

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6/29/05   Michigan House of "Shame" passes  Polluter Free Ride Ticket (bill 4617)

Only 29 Michigan state representatives voted today against a Dow Chemical Company-backed bill to conceal awareness of widespread dioxin contamination in the Saginaw River watershed.

Approved 77-29, the bill would require the state specifically to test any one of the thousands of property units in a large area like the downstream stretches of the Saginaw River before declaring it contaminated. The goal is to prevent DEQ from publicizing the truth about such gross contamination by tying it up in prohibitively expensive testing. This would also prevent prospective land buyers from knowing when they purchase contaminated parcels.

The 77 votes are a veto-proof margin, should the Governor choose to deep-six the bill.
The 29 "good" votes were cast by:

Stephen Adamini of Marquette, Glenn Anderson of Westland, Kathy Angerer of Dundee, Doug Bennett of Muskegon, Steven Bieda of Warren, Pam Byrnes of Dexter, Dianne Byrum of Onondaga, Brenda Clack of Flint, Paul Condino of Southfield, Marie Donigan of Royal Oak, Matt Gillard of Alpena, Lee Gonzales of Flint, Hoon-Yung Hopgood of Taylor, Herb Kehrl of Monroe, Chris Kolb of Ann Arbor, Kathleen Law of Gibralter, Lamar Lemmons Jr. of Detroit, Alexander Lipsey of Kalamazoo, Gary McDowell of Rudyard, Andy Meisner of Ferndale, Fred Miller of Mount Clemens, Clarence Phillips of Pontiac, Gino Polidori of Dearborn, Alma Wheeler Smith of Ypsilanti, Steve Tobocman of Detroit, Mary Waters of Detroit, Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, Carl Williams of Saginaw and Paula Zelenko of Burton.

Four representatives didn't vote:
Republican Jack Brandenburg of Harrison Township and Democrats Marsha Cheeks, Morris Hood III and Lamar Lemmons III, all of Detroit.

The rest have cast their lot with polluters.

---Even if the bill should pass in the Senate,  Michigan real-estate disclosure form requires the the seller to answer the following question:  "Are you aware of any substances, materials, or products that may be an environmental hazard such as, but not limited to, asbestos, radon gas, formaldehyde, lead-based paint, fuel or chemical storage tanks and contaminated soil on the property?"  Be very careful how you answer this question.

--All of the jokers voting to pass this bill where aware of the following and made the decision to vote against the citizens of Michigan anyways: 

bulletThe bills would increase the cost of cleanup for both the state and other parties
bulletThe bills would slow progress in cleaning up contaminated sites
bulletThe bills would prevent many properties from being eligible for state and local financial incentives that support redevelopment.
bulletThe bills would prevent the state from undertaking investigation and cleanup actions on a “homestead” regardless of whether the homestead property owner wanted that work to be done.
bulletThe bills would prevent prospective purchasers and lessees of contaminated property from getting important information about the contamination through disclosure provisions of Part 201.
bullet“Due Care” obligations would no longer include compliance with land or resource use restrictions that were imposed on a property as part of a cleanup.
bulletUnless samples had been taken on a particular property to confirm contamination, or the owner of that property agreed to it being part of a facility in the absence of sampling, a liable party would not have an obligation to address contamination on that property.
bulletSome of the new language added to Section 20120a(2) by the bills is unnecessary. Other new language added to this section may not achieve the apparent objective.
bulletState budgetary implications
bulletImplications to Local Units of Government

For details, click here.
 

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5/24/05  Residents not allowed to speak at HB 4617 Facility "hearing"

The majority of residents showing up at today's hearing in Lansing were not allowed to speak. With the exception of the MDEQ,  Dow supporters were allowed by the committee to monopolized the entire 90 minute session.  

The following is a copy of the letter our representative intended to read to the committee (copies emailed to all):

Committee members:
Leon Drolet (R), Committee Chair, 33rd District
Jacob Hoogendyk (R), Majority Vice-Chair, 61st District
Robert Gosselin (R), 41st District
John Garfield (R), 45th District
Fulton Sheen (R), 88th District
Steve Tobocman (D), Minority Vice-Chair, 12th District
Alexander Lipsey (D), 60th District
LaMar Lemmons III (D), 3rd District

---

Michigan House Government Operations Committee
May 24th 2005

Dear Chairman Drolet and members of the committee:

I am here today on behalf of many of my neighbors living in the contaminated floodplain of the Tittabawassee River in Saginaw County.

We oppose HB 4617 and the removal of the “facility designation” label for residential properties contaminated with toxic compounds.

In our situation, our yards and homes are contaminated with dioxin, often referred to as "the most toxic substance ever known". It has been proven that Dow Chemical in Midland is the responsible party for this extensive contamination. Levels of dioxin of up to 7200 parts per trillion have been found in the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River, where safe residential contact by the state has been set at 90 ppt. It is our contention that this legislation is being done for the benefit of Dow Chemical and residents in Midland, who care little or nothing about the contamination of the down river communities.

The facility designation in this instance, defines a geographic area which under Dow’s license is subject to interim response, remedial investigation and cleanup. We believe HB 4617 is designed to make it difficult for the State of Michigan to: 1. enforce Dow Chemical's license 2. Access property 3. Protect public health and resources 4. Delay cleanup.

In addition, it buys into ever increasing efforts to blur and confuse the issue thereby creating additional delays.

While we understand the impact of facility designation on property values, it is our belief that the real impact comes from the presence of Dow’s dioxin contaminating our property, parks and communities. We are much more concerned about the dioxin on our property and in our community then we are about being labeled a facility. This is compounded by the failure, year after year, of the state to deal with this issue in a timely manner. This issue has become more about politics than about science and public health protection.

We do not oppose the use of facility designation because this label will ultimately be instrumental in restoring our yards to a safe environment. Soil sampling by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has demonstrated consistent and pervasive high levels of dioxin the entire length of the Tittabawassee River and floodplain. The dynamic movement of this river and its frequent flooding constantly deposits contaminated sediments from the river, its banks and people’s yards to new locations. Therefore, is it really necessary that every single property be tested to confirm that it is contaminated? The DEQ has collected data from three rounds of sampling, and though more is needed, we are confident in their ( DEQ) assessment that frequently flooded areas of the floodplain are contaminated and warrant being a facility subject to corrective action in accordance with the laws of Michigan and Dow’s license.

The floodplain we call home is so contaminated that the Michigan Department of Community Health, MDEQ, MDNR , Michigan Department of Agriculture and most recently the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry issued a consumption advisory for wild game along the Tittabawassee River and floodplain. This is only the second such advisory in the state’s history. Dow’s dioxin is hurting our property values, economic development, tourism and ability to raise our families in a safe environment. You need to know indoor sampling has found dioxin in excess of 90ppt in the house dust of our family rooms and living spaces.

The facility designation is appropriate because it would require Dow Chemical to take actions along the entire river to mitigate exposure to their dioxin and to eventually give us back the unrestricted use of our property and our homes.

Dioxin moves freely along this dynamic river system. Without the facility status for this area, contaminated soils will be transported and re-distributed over and over along the river. After last years flooding event depositional sampling showed areas contaminated anywhere from 500 to 2,000ppt; some in the parks some samples were in parking lots. This legislation does nothing to assist in getting a handle on cleanup let alone interim response activities.

HB 4617 is an attempt to give Dow Chemical what they could not achieve in the 2002 consent order where they would have no responsibility for their contamination down river. You need to know that Dow signed their corrective action license in June of 2003. Dow did not contest the license or the use of the “facility” designation and neither did Mr. Moolenaar. Why now? Why two years later?

Representative Moolenaar has a history of doing Dow’s bidding. Last year, commensurate with their license Dow was to begin soil sampling for dioxin in Midland. Something Dow did not want to do, nor did the City Fathers of Midland. A huge town hall meeting attacking the DEQ was orchestrated by economic groups in Midland. Representative Moolenaar accused the DEQ of being out of control but we believe the DEQ is doing its job and enforcing the law. Last year in an attempt to stop the testing in Midland, Mr. Moolenaar threatened to eliminate the hazardous waste division of the DEQ, gut their budget, stop all dioxin testing in the state and raise the standard from 90 ppt to 1,000ppt. Worth noting is that there are no residential areas in Midland that are known to exceed 1000ppt. HB 4617 is “designer” legislation intended to make the dioxin contamination go away with the sweep of a pen. This legislative detoxification is an injustice to every living thing in the watershed and disrespectful to the hard working homeowners whose lives have been turned upside down by Dow Chemical.

How did Dow Chemicals' contamination of a watershed get twisted into being the fault of the DEQ for enforcing laws already in existence to protect the environment and hold the responsibility party accountable?

The facility label is not an unfair label to property owners. If anything, this committee should be holding hearings on how Dow should be cleaning up their contamination, not on how to try and legislate the problem away. Our entire river community is contaminated with Dow’s dioxin, we have all kinds of restrictions on the use of our property, not because of the facility designation but because it’s contaminated. The presences of dioxin on our property constitute a “takings” by Dow. We cannot use our properties as we choose or intended at the time of purchase.

In closing it is our contention that:

This bill jeopardizes public health by encouraging the sale of contaminated property to unknowing buyers. This is not ethical or moral

This bill prevents the MDEQ from protecting public health by prohibiting access to properties

This bill violates the Michigan Constitution Article IV sec. 52 that requires you, the legislature to protect the natural resources of “ this state from pollution impairment and destruction”

The only way to protect property rights in Michigan is to require the responsible party to cleanup contamination.

There should be no special rules for dioxin as defined in this bill. ( page 18 line 25 and page 24 line 19)

This legislation will increase the cost of the testing. Blur the lines of cleanup and further delay resolution of this dioxin contamination of Michigan’s largest watershed.

The use of an exposure investigation (page 19 lines 1) further treats dioxin differently. We do not rely on exposure investigations to protect children from mercury, lead or arsenic. Why would you do this for dioxin?

This “ designer legislation” with all its trappings lays the blame for devalued property on the phrase” facility designation” when the real culprit is dioxin.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. We would also like to extend an invitation to any of you to come visit our yards and our homes.

Gary Henry
Kathy Henry
John Taylor
Gloria Taylor
Amy Taylor
Jim Brasseur
Joy Brasseur
Marcia Woodman
Vito Damore
Betty Damore
Paul Damore
Richard Stimpson
Marti Stimpson
Greg Whitney
Mary Whitney
Shaun Whitney
Howard Steinmetz
Barb Steinmetz
Bill Hard
Jan Hard
Roz Berlin
Carol Chisholm
Russell Kubik
Laura Burtt
Kim Ortman

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5/24/05  
Bill would peel the contaminated "facility" label from hundreds of properties

5/24/05 House BIll 4617  along the Tittabawassee River will get a hearing before a House committee this week.

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01/17/05  
Moolenaar and Stamas introduce bill to give Dow free ride

bullet1/17/05 There baaack!
bulletDow legislators Moolenaar and Stamas to introduce bill to alleviate Dow of all responsibility for the dioxin contamination of Michigan residential properties.
bulletClick here for a Midland Daily News summary
bulletClick here to view House Bill 4617 of April 2005
bulletA few comments from concerned citizens
bulletActions are reprehensible
bulletActions are shameful
bulletActions are unethical
bulletActions reek of corruption
bulletRecall in order

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05/27/04  
Moolenaar and Stamas to gut Michigan Environmental laws.

On May 27, 2004, a group of Michigan Republican Lawmakers from Midland (Stamas & Moolenaar) filed  2 bills in the Michigan Legislature to raise the States dioxin Residential Direct Contact Criteria (RDCC) to over 11 times the current standard, from 90 ppt to 1000 ppt.  In our opinion, this is a attempt to relieve Dow Chemical of it's clean up responsibilities under it's current operating license.    These individuals have shown their true colors: their allegiance to Dow Chemical company overrides their concern for public safety in City of Midland,   Tittabawassee River flood plain, the State of Michigan, and the United States of America.  A poll found 90%  of Michigan voters support a comprehensive policy to phase out persistent toxic chemicals (like dioxin).  Yet these "representatives" advance the cause of Dow over their citizens.  If passed, these bills may set a precedent that could affect dioxin standards across the entire United States.  Now is the time for concerned citizens from around the country to get involved in this debacle unless you want Dow Chemical interfering in your backyard. 

bulletPublic officials and their connections to Dow, Detroit Free Press 9/29/04
bulletMany public officials representing residents with dioxin-contamination property in Midland and Saginaw counties have ties to Dow Chemical Co ... "Obviously, these connections are troubling" ... "I don't think campaign contributions necessarily buy votes, but they certainly buy access" ...
bulletClick here for the summary
bulletMichigan Legislators supporting bills 
bulletCitizen Response
bulletPromoters of bills are basing it on the fraud of "Sound Science"
bulletCurrent MDEQ Dioxin RDCC standard Vs old ATSDR standard
bullet2002 all over again, EPA told them no last time

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Update June 2004: Dow and it's hired Michigan State Republican legislators are hijacking the States regulatory system. 

House Appropriations Sub-Committee – Votes to Slash DEQ Budget & Eliminate Entire Programs

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Environment voted this morning to SLASH the DEQ budget in many ways, including eliminating the Hazardous Waste Division entirely. This is a primarily vindictive, ostrich-like response to the DEQ's efforts to protect the citizens of Michigan who live along the Tittabawassee River from dioxin contamination – caused by Dow Chemical. The legislators who introduced and support this measure seem to be far more concerned about protecting Dow than they are about protecting the people of Michigan.

The House Subcommittee on Appropriations has recommended to:

bullet Eliminate the entire Hazardous Waste Program, which totals about $6 million. They want to send the Hazardous Waste clean-up program back to the feds. Eliminating the Hazardous Waste program from the DEQ would end up costing businesses MORE money - since they’d have to apply to the EPA office in Chicago to obtain permits. In addition, the majority of the money used to pay for this program comes from a Federal grant – money the State of Michigan would not save, but would have to give back to the Feds should the DEQ’s hazardous waste program shut down.
bullet Cut directors salary 15%
bullet Cut general fund appropriations to the DEQ an additional 15% across the board
bullet Implement a workforce reduction plan by an additional 8% = 120 positions

Who to Contact:

Please call or email your House Representative as soon as possible and tell them to restore full funding to the DEQ. The DEQ is our state agency whose job it is to protect Michigan citizens and environment. The proposed cuts make NO sense and are a transparent attempt to get Dow Chemical off the hook for the pollution they’ve caused in Michigan.

Here is a link to the House of Representative’s web site so you can easily find your Rep’s contact info:

house.mi.gov - Find a Representative

Timeframe:

The House appropriation subcommittee has made the recommendation to the full committee this morning (Thursday). The full committee is meeting this afternoon. If the full committee concurs with this ridiculous proposal, it could reach the House floor by next week. We MUST make contact with as many House Reps as possible within the next few days! Keep in mind that YOU CAN call over the weekend and in the evening – simply leave your message on the legislator’s voice mail.

Thank you

Gayle Miller
Conservation Program Coordinator
Sierra Club-Mackinac Chapter
109 E. Grand River Ave.
Lansing, MI 48906
(517) 484-2372 - ph
(517) 484-3108 - fax

Following is additional information posted to EnviroMich, a state-wide listserv on environmental issues in Michigan:

Recently, Senator Stamas and Representative Moolenaar announced plans to introduce legislation to weaken the state's residential dioxin cleanup standard to 1,000 ppt.  They are basing that number on outdated science that doesn't reflect our current understanding of dioxin's toxicity.   This is an outrageous attempt to relieve Dow of liability for their dioxin contamination in mid-Michigan, and it threatens the health of all Michigan residents and the health of the Great Lakes in the bargain.

 And today, the friends of the chemical industry are attempting to behead the DEQ by slashing the DEQ's budget.  This latest gambit is a threat to all of our efforts to protect public health and the great resources of our state.  This latest effort is in retaliation for the DEQ DOING THEIR JOB AND FOLLOWING THE LAW OF THE STATE.   If chemical corporations can cut the DEQ budget simply because they are abiding by the environmental laws in the state, all of our environmental programs are at risk.   WE URGE ALL MICHIGAN CITIZENS TO TAKE ACTION  - CALL YOUR  STATE REPRESENTATIVE AND TELL THEM TO SUPPORT THE DEQ IN FOLLOWING THE LAW OF THE STATE!!!!!

Tell them that political maneuvering on behalf of a single large company is not acceptable.  The priority in our state must be science-based public health protections.

 Not surprisingly, these legislators are big recipients of campaign contributions from the chemical industry.  A contaminated Great Lakes basin and weak environmental laws are not the way to revive Michigan's economy or attract new businesses.  Just the opposite in fact.

Tony Stamas - Republican State Senator
    Accepted $29,727 political campaign funds 1998-2002 from Chemical Industry

John Moolenaar - Republican Michigan State House Representative, District 98
    Accepted $4,732 political campaign funds 2002 from Chemical Industry
    Former Dow Chemist

Dow donated $215,000 in 2002 to Republican State Election Committee

Chemical industry political contributions in Michigan election campaigns 1996-2002
    Republicans:  $ 479,473
    Democrats :   $  53,745
    Specifically from Dow Chemical and it's employees: $216,469

And supporters of this effort include:

 David Camp - Republican US House Representative for Michigan
    Owns at least $500,000 Dow Chemical stock, Married to former Dow attorney

Media Coverage (a few samples)

        Detroit Free Press 6/4/04:   Argument over waste cleanup plan gets dirty
      Saginaw News 5/29/04: Dioxin standard under attack

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Update 2002: Dow and former Engler administration MDEQ

bulletDow tries to change states RDCC to 831 ppt
bulletMDEQ attempts to double states dioxin RDCC

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