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What can I do about the dioxin contamination

bullet Sign the Petition to support dioxin cleanup of the Great Lakes largest watershed
bullet Please sign our "Stop the 1000 ppt dioxin clean up level" petition New!
bulletHealth Concerns, children, how to reduce risk New!
bulletReal estate
bulletCommunicate
bulletGet Involved
bulletPrecautionary Principles
bulletParticipate in Interim Response Activities New!

Stop the 1000 ppt dioxin cleanup level petition

Thank you to all those who have emailed letters of support to stop Dow Legislators from raising our state dioxin residential direct contact criteria from 90 to 1000 ppt, the highest in the nation!
For those that have not done so yet,
Please oppose this  legislation by sending an e-mail with your name and city of residence to info@trwnews.net  and simply  state in your e-mail that you oppose 1,000ppt. We'll add your name to the petition OR you can  write to info@trwnews.net and ask for a copy of the petition which you can have your friends and family sign.  Remember, it doesn't matter where you live in Michigan because these natural resources belong to all of us.  The petition drive began in May of 2006 and will continue until the bill is defeated, please act today and send off that e-mail.  Click here for the details.

Health Concerns

bulletState MDCH warns schools to limit children's exposure to park soils
In a letter dated 12/3/03, the MDEQ notified schools in the area to plan activities so that students are not in direct contact with dioxin laden soils.  The soils of frequently flood parks located in the Tittabawassee River flood plain  have been found by the MDEQ to contain dioxin contamination with levels almost 38 times the states Residential Direct Contact Criteria of 90 ppt.  Click here for levels discovered in Phase 2 sampling. 
bulletReduce your the risks to your health when in contaminated areas.  
bulletAvoid having CHILDREN play in soils. 
bulletKeep everything OUT OF YOUR MOUTH
bulletConsider WEARING A FACE MASK in dusty conditions.
bulletWash soil particles form items like clothes & tools after each use & STORE THEM OUTSIDE
bulletWash all exposed body surfaces, preferably by SHOWERING, ASAP after gardening.
bulletDO NOT EAT UNWASHED produce or other foods while gardening.
bulletFarmers should UTILIZE MINIMUM TILLAGE & DUST REDUCTION practices.
bulletRead and use the methods mentioned published by the MDEQ, MDCH, and MDA
bulletHow to increase your dioxin levels by 3,900%   March 2006
bullet MDEQ information about dioxin and the Tittabawassee River flood plain Bulletin #4 March 2004
bullet MDEQ Frequently asked questions for owners of property affected by migrating dioxin contamination July 2005
bullet MDA Food, Farming & Gardening Guidelines for Minimizing Dioxin Exposure (pdf)
bulletMDCH Dioxin Fact Sheet (pdf)
bullet MDEQ Tittabawassee River Dioxin Information brochure
 
bulletLearn more about other dioxin dangers
 
bullet9/14/04 State MDEQ issues warning against eating wild game along the Tittabawassee

"The Michigan Department of Community Health will announce today an advisory against eating wild turkey meat or deer liver and urge consumers to limit consumption of venison and squirrel harvested in or near at least 22 miles of the floodplain along the Tittabawassee River. Although dozens of advisories exist for fish tainted with toxic chemicals, it is only the second time the state has issued such a warning for terrestrial animals." Detroit Press Press

Detroit Free Press 09/14/04: Dioxin taint's state game, Advisory involves land near Dow

Detroit Free Press 09/14/04: Dioxin taint's state game along the Tittabawassee River, officials say

Other excerpts from the Detroit Free Press:

bullet"Meat from deer downstream of the complex had dioxin up to seven times higher than upstream venison, according to a state review of the data. Squirrel meat was up to 40 times higher, turkey meat up to 66 times higher and deer livers up to 118 times higher."
bullet"Chester has insisted that some cleanup should begin immediately, while Dow says a more" comprehensive plan can be developed after data from several studies are available in several years.
bullet"People should take notice of this. The whole food web is being contaminated. It's a watershed issue and a Great Lakes issue," said Tracey Easthope, director of the Environmental Health Project for the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor. "
bullet"Today's warning is based on a Dow-funded study released in July."  [more]
bulletRead the Michigan 2003 Family FIsh Consumption Guide about the Tittabawassee River
bulletThe next time you hear about a Health Study being proposed by ANYONE, read this editorial and then read the proposal again. There are many design criteria which can included that make the studies outcome inconclusive before it even starts.   Attend all meetings concerning Health Studies and challenge anyone proposing plans which sound suspicious.
 
bulletSee through the Dow hype: 10 points to consider when evaluating Dow misinformation.

Dow and it's fellow accomplices in the chemical industry often site misinformation about their chemicals and the human health effects that they cause.    The Coming Clean organization, www.come-clean.org,   offers some detailed and referenced scientific facts on the issues.  The 10 points below  are listed on their  site as reasons to join the group, however the information is useful to everyone interested in cutting through the hype.  The Come-Clean web site also contains useful information about, chemical body burden's, steps to clean up a community, and more.

  1. Fact: There are no mandatory health studies required to put a chemical into commerce
  2. Fact: People vary enormously in their reaction to toxic substances
  3. Fact: The fetus, infants, and children are usually more vulnerable to toxic exposures.
  4. Fact: Cancer rates are increasing, particularly for cancers that affect the young
  5. Bogus: "The doses of these toxins are so low that you'd have to drink 50,000 bathtubs to get a dose that caused any harm  in animal studies
  6. Bogus: "There is no evidence of human harm from exposure to X.
  7. Bogus: "That was the old chemical industry. We have changed our ways.
  8. Bogus: "These are the best-tested chemicals in the world.
  9. Bogus: "Animal studies can't predict human harm - people are not just big rats.
  10. Bogus: "Exposures are well within safe limits.  

Click here for details on the 10 points above (pdf file).

Real-Estate

bulletJune 2003: Per the MDEQ, almost all  frequently flooded properties within the 100 year flood plain are considered a Hazardous Waste "Facility" by the State of Michigan.  Property owners now have certain obligations  in regard to their properties use and sale as stipulated in Part 2-1 of the states Act 451 of 1994.  A few excerpts:
bulletDisclosure that property is a facility: Section 324.20116 of the NREPA requires that a person who has knowledge or information that his or her property is a facility must disclose to any person acquiring an interest in the property the general nature and extent of contamination.  Click here to view law in it's entirety as posted on Michigan Legislature web siste.
bullet"Due Care" responsibilities: Section 324.20107a of the NREPA imposes certain responsibilities on persons who own or operate contaminated property in order to assure that the use of that property occurs in a manner that protects public health and safety. Click here to view law in it's entirety as posted on Michigan Legislature web siste.
bulletRestrictions on relocation of contaminated soil: Section 324.120c. See DEQ Soil Movement Advisory for details on these regulatory requirements. Click here to view law in it's entirety as posted on Michigan Legislature web siste
bulletSources:
bulletMDEQ Supplemental Advisory Regarding Part 201 Requirements Applicable to Property Contaminated by Dioxin
bulletMDEQ Soil Movement Advisory
bulletMDEQ Part 201 Rules and regulations for Environmental Remediation (contains ALL the details)
bulletIf your property includes land in the Tittabawassee Flood Plain, join the Class Action Lawsuit against Dow Chemical Co..  Click here for details. 
bulletRemoving "facility" label may not remove responsibility to disclose dioxin contamination.

Anyone supporting the movement to remove the "facilities" label from contaminated properties in Midland and the Tittabawassee flood plain need to consider all of it's implications.  The following is NOT legal advise, just some opinions.   As always, when buying or selling property, consult your own attorney.

bulletReview the Seller's Disclosure form for Michigan.  The key provision is paragraph 10, which requires the seller to disclose environmental issues, including contaminated soil.  Thus, the form itself would require that a seller notify the buyer of dioxin contamination, regardless of whether or not the property is designated a facility. 
bulletOne possible scenario of a successful removal of the "facility" label and supporting "resolutions" and petitions.
bullet"Under Michigan law, you must disclose any material defect to a potential buyer.   No where does Michigan law link the definition of a material defect to the definition of a facility.  Whether an existing situation constitutes a material defect is often decided on a case by case basis, with a jury being the trier of fact as to whether the condition constitutes a material defect.  Thus, the existence of a toxic substance such as dioxin on a property could well be considered a material defect, regardless of whether the state has designated the property a "facility" for regulatory purposes. In fact, there is nothing that says that the presence on a property of a toxic substance, even in amounts below state action levels, does not constitute a material defect.  That would be a question for a court and jury to answer on a case by case basis."
bullet"In this instance, the resolution proposed by some individuals in the township does not, and cannot, under Michigan law, protect sellers from failing to disclose the presence or likely presence of dioxin on their properties.  In some ways, it actually works against sellers, because an argument could be made that sellers recognized the potential significance of the presence of dioxin on their properties, but took affirmative steps, not only not to disclose, but to actively hide that fact by demanding that a state agency remove a facility label from their property. This action alone lends strong evidence to an argument that the sellers knew about the defect, and that such a failure to disclose was not an accident, but was willful. Thus, it is possible that the resolution could become an exhibit for the purpose of proving not just a failure to disclose, but affirmative fraud and punitive damages."

Communicate

bulletWrite letters to the editor of Local newspapers to express your concerns.
bulletSaginaw News       :  http://www.saginaw-news.com/emaileditor
bulletMidland Daily News:  mdnletters@mdn.net
bulletCall or write you local county commissioners and express your concern. If you say nothing, they will do nothing.
bulletPatrick Wurtzel District 5 includes Thomas Twp, patwurtzel@aol.com 989-781-4443
bulletJames Graham  District 11 includes James Twp, no email, 989-781-7847
bulletThomas Basil    District 12 includes Saginaw Twp, lbcinc1@msn.com 989-754-6850
bulletCall or write your state and federal Senators and Representatives and make sure they understand your views.  Keep track of their voting records.  You can see voting records of Michigan Senators/Representatives at www.michiganvotes.org   US Senators/Representatives at the League of Conservative Voters   (Enter Michigan in the "Select by State" box)

Get Involved

bulletSign our "Stop the 1000 ppt dioxin cleanup bill" petition, click here
bulletJoin the Campaign for a Clean Watershed
bulletAttend local meetings of MDCH, MDEQ, and MDA and voice your concerns.
bulletLearn as much as you can about the situation, read Newspaper articles and web sites.  A number of links to get you started can be found on our Document & Links page.
bulletKeep an open mind, listen to both sides.  Just remember Dow is in the midst of a PR campaign in an attempt  to deflate the situation and avoid responsibility for anything.  TRW has documented proof of behind closed door collusion between the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Dow.   Sweetheart Deal Press Release 102202

THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE:

bulletConsider alternative approaches to controlling your exposure to toxic chemicals

A new principle for guiding human activities, to prevent harm to the environment and to human health, has been emerging during the past 15 years. It is called the "principle of precautionary action" or the "precautionary principle" for short.  Click here for the entire story.  TRW does not necessarily agree with all of it, but it presents a very logical approach to a complex situation.  It's premise fly's in the face of the Chemical Companies & regulatory agencies efforts to base everything on "scientific" data, which from the publics perception, is failing.   Maybe this concept or something similar would actually protect the public instead of the corporations.  Without the public's support, it's unlikely to happen because it "threatens the entire chemical industry" which has been advised to "mobilize science" against it. 

bulletThe principle of precautionary action has 4 parts:

1. People have a duty to take anticipatory action to prevent harm.
(As one participant at the Wingspread meeting summarized the essence
of the precautionary principle, "If you have reasonable suspicion that
something bad might be going to happen, you have an obligation to try
to stop it.")

2. The burden of proof of harmlessness of a new technology, process,
activity, or chemical lies with the proponents, not with the general
public.

3. Before using a new technology, process, or chemical, or starting
a new activity, people have an obligation to examine "a full range of
alternatives" including the alternative of doing nothing.

4. Decisions applying the precautionary principle must be "open,
informed, and democratic" and "must include affected parties."
bullet...current policies such as risk assessment and cost-benefit analysis give the
benefit of the doubt to new products and technologies, which may later
prove harmful.  And when damage occurs, victims and their advocates
have the nearly-impossible task of proving that a particular product or
activity was responsible.
bullet"The role of science [in decision-making] is essential. But the public must be
fully involved. Informed consent is just as essential."
bullet"Current decision-making approaches ask, 'How safe is safe?  What level of risk
is acceptable?  How much contamination can a human or ecosystem assimilate
without showing any obvious adverse effects?' The approach stemming from the
precautionary principle asks a different set of questions: 'How much contamination
can be avoided while still maintaining necessary values?  What are the alternatives
to this product or activity that achieve the desired goal?  Does society need this
activity in the first place?"

Participate in Interim Response Activities

03/11/06 Priority 1 lessons learned, Priority 2 residents take note

First of all, contrary to media reports, the Priority 1(P-1) and Priority 2 (P-2) Interim Response Activities (IRA) performed by Dow and AKT  Peerless are NOT a "cleanup" plan.  Their original intent was to temporarily reduce dioxin exposure to residents who live in the contaminated flood plain, the IRA's are measures that Dow may be required to repeat time and time again as the river floods redistribute the dioxin contaminated soils.   Based on comments of others who have participated in the P-1 IRA, it is our opinion that most of these activities are more of a Dow public relations campaign than anything else.  We are not saying you should not participate, some of the activities may temporarily reduce your exposure if performed properly.  Use your own judgment and consider the following when you make your decision:

bulletAnnette Lucas, the AKT Peerless employee who spearheaded the P-1 IRA last year has left the company.  Rumor has it her replacement is Melissa Robishaw.
bulletWhen speaking with a P-1 resident, Melissa indicated that "things will be different" this year for the P-2 residents and "they" will not be handing out services to everyone.  It's possible the only IRA you receive is the mailing packet sent out this week.
bulletNot everyone can be "serviced" at once, there are approximately 500 P-2 properties, P-1 had about 140 or so. So start planning early, work stops for the winter. 
bulletDo NOT assume AKT Peerless will swoop in and take care of everything without your participation.
bulletAKT Peerless is an Environmental Engineering firm hired by Dow to hire subcontractors from the area such as lawn care or nursery firms to perform the actual work.
bulletBefore meeting with AKT Peerless, do the following:
bulletBased on how you use your property, determine exactly what you want done and put them in written form using sketch's/pictures/lists and express your needs to the AKT Peerless P-2 manager.
bulletIf you do not do the following, it's unlikely anything you ask for will be done properly:
bulletPoint out the problem areas to the P-2 manager
bulletDocument problem areas with the P-2 manager.
bulletRe-explain the problems in minute detail (show them your documents) to all work crews that show up.  Every time!!
bulletSupervise the work is completed to your satisfaction.
bulletCall the P-2 manager back as often as it takes to get things right.
bulletThe MDEQ is overseeing Dow's implementation of these activities, you may request an audit of the Dow proposal by the MDEQ at any time, contact Allan Taylor at taylorab@michigan.gov
bulletIf you want dioxin sampling performed on your property, ask for it otherwise Dow may not even mention it's an option (you have to complete and sign the "License Agreement" received in your packet, more on that later).
bulletBe prepared for the following:
bulletWork crews may just show up without notice and have little idea of what they are actually supposed to do.  Patronizing work crew owners may follow to smooze and shake hands and utter platitudes about how they "cleaned up" your dioxin problem, indicating it is no longer an issue.
bulletIf you are to receive indoor IRA's such as dusting, they will not move anything out of the way, it's your responsibility.  The MDEQ "Reducing Exposure at Home" brochure recommends "When dusting and cleaning inside the home, avoid creating airborne dust (to minimize breathing and swallowing dust) ...". 
bulletObserve how the work crews dispose of contaminated material, it is not acceptable to pour contaminated wash water down your sink, drain, or toilet as was done at some P-1 properties.
bulletMost members of work crew will know nothing about dioxin or proper techniques to reduce exposure and will do whatever they think is "good"  or "pretty" if you do not intervene. (Example from P-1: a quarter inch of new dirt spread over exposed contaminated soil is NOT acceptable).
bulletDo not consider the work crews knowledgeable about the situation, most of them know nothing of the real facts (the EPA/ATSDR/CDC/WHO/MDEQ/MDCH versions, not Dow's propaganda) and will offer opinions that range from gross misinformation to the absurd (example from P-1: dioxin comes from trees).
bulletTake a controlling stance, instead of just getting out of their way & expecting the work crews to know what to do. 
bulletTake before and after pictures.
bulletThe "License Agreement" included in the packet must be completed to be considered for any P-2 IRA  work.
bulletThe agreement authorizes Dow to access your property for the purposes of conducting soil sampling and survey work.
bulletThe agreement authorizes the MDEQ to access your property for the purposes of overseeing the Dow sampling and surveying.  Consider asking that the sampling ALWAYS be supervised by the MDEQ and that the techniques used meet EPA standards, not Dow's.  Always ask for the names and credentials of everyone who visits your property, the license states the work will be done "at times convenient to the Resident".
bulletThis is a legal document, you may want your lawyer to review, so do it now.
bulletTo be considered for P-2 IRA, you must complete the enclosed "Residential Property Use Activity Survey" or "Agricultural Property Use Activity Survey".
bulletThe State officials contributed to the design of the form but indicate they are not really sure how the information will be used by Dow.
bulletMany of the questions require a simple Yes or No answer which in our opinion cannot be properly answered if you have been following the States Soil, Fish, and Wildlife advisories/recommendations.  To do so based on your current state may require a NO answer which is misleading, your want to carry out all these activities on your property but the contamination prevents it.  The form does not provide for comments or clarifications, will they pay any attention to what you scribble in the margins or attach as separate documents?  If you answer No, will your property be disqualified?  Will the information be used in other ways at a later date?
bulletAny information provided on the form must be provided to the MDEQ and therefore may be subject to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and become publicly available.
 

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