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WIMS - Waste Information & Management Services, Inc. - WIMS
Innovative Environmental Information Services Since 1980

Special Report
Dow Chemical Company, Midland Area Dioxin Issue

© 2002-2008. Permission is granted for Internal, Same-Office Distribution Only.

 

Note: Special Reports are updated periodically here; but are updated and reported on
daily in our WIMS Email services.

(updated January 15, 2010)

Click Here for details on WIMS Information Service Products 

Special Report

Dow Chemical Company, Midland Area, Tittabawassee River  Dioxin Issue

 

Key Links

  • MDEQ-Dow Midland Area Dioxin Cleanup Framework (click here).

  • Access the EPA Region 5 Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website for extensive information on the latest activities (click here).

  • Access the City of Midland dioxin contamination website (click here).

  • Access the MDEQ Dioxin Information website (click here).

  • Access MDEQ Tittabawassee River Flood Plain Contamination website (click here).

  • Access MDEQ Dow Hazardous Waste Facility Operating License and Corrective Action Information website (click here).

  • Access MDEQ DEQ/Dow Community Involvement website  (click here).

  • Access Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) Pilot Exposure Investigation (PEI) website (click here). 

  • Access the MDEQ Tittabawassee River Flood Plain Contamination (click here).

  • Dow Chemical Midland Dioxin Situation website (click here).

  • Dow Community Update newsletters on dioxin situation (click here).

  • Access the Dow Chemical Dioxin Reduction website (click here).

  • University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study (click here).

  • Access the Ecology Center Dow Dioxin Contamination Website (click here).
  • Access the unofficial Community Advisory Panel (CAP) website (maintained by Tittabawassee River Watch)  (click here).

  • Tittabawassee River Watch website (click here).

  • The River Speaks Blog  (click here).

  • Access the DioxinSpin - A Dow insider's perspective (click here).

  • Citizens Class Action Lawsuit Law Firm: Stueve Helder Siegel website (click here

  • Dow Chemical Company Class Action Legal Briefs and Motions Filed (click here).

  • EPA's Dioxin Reassessment, NAS Review Draft website (click here).

  • Access the National Academies Review of EPA's Assessment of the Health Implications of Exposure to Dioxins website (click here).

  • Access ProxyInformation.com Fact Sheet on Shareholder Resolution (click here).

  • Access the latest media coverage (click here).



Some Articles From WIMS Daily

 
EPA, Michigan, & Dow Sign Dioxin Cleanup Consent Order - Jan 15, 2010: Access a release from EPA with further information and contacts (click here). Access the consent order, the responsiveness summary, a plain language fact sheet, final site-specific memorandum of agreement (SMOA) between EPA and MDEQ and complete background information (click here).

Information & Updates On Dow Chemical Cleanup Order - Nov 10, 2009: Access the EPA-MDEQ presentation (click here). Access the fact sheet (click here). Access the MDEQ presentation (click here). Access the EPA Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website for background information and all settlement documents (click here).

Chicago Tribune Article On Dow Cleanup Agreement - Oct 21, 2009: Access the article and video (click here). Access the complete 65-page proposed settlement with extensive appendices and an 8-page fact sheet on EPA's Dow Superfund website (click here).
 
Lone Tree Council Launches Dioxin Cleanup Website - Oct 14, 2009: Access the LTC website (click here)
 
Sampling Snafu In Midland Area Water Supplies - Oct 5, 2009: Access a release from EPA (click here). Access the 235-page Midland/Saginaw/Bay City water supply sampling report (click here). Access EPA's website for the Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup where the sampling report will be posted (click here).
 
Dioxin Study Has "Limited Value" To Midland Area Human Exposure - Sep 30, 2009: Access a release from EPA and link to UMDES and journal articles and EPA review's findings and the dioxin science plan (click here). Access EPA's Dioxin Science Plan website for additional information (click here). Access the EPA Dioxin website for extensive information (click here).

EPA Says Dow Expected To Sign Dioxin Cleanup Agreement - Sep 28, 2009: Access the complete fact sheet on the negotiations (click here). Access the Dow dioxin cleanup website for complete updates, details and background information (click here).


Municipal Water Sampling Dow-Midland Area Cleanup - Jul 23, 2009: Access the EPA Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website for links to the latest posting (click here). Access the 27-page Field Sampling Plan for Midland/Saginaw/Bay City Water Supply (click here).
 
Dow-Midland Area Superfund Site Cleanup Update - Jul 21, 2009: Access the EPA Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website for links to additional information on the Park area cleanup, the workshop and the CAG (click here). Access a primer on the Natural Resource Damage process (click here). Access a June 2009 EPA fact sheet on the Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site (click here).

EPA Resumes Negotiation With Dow On Superfund Consent Order - Jun 29, 2009: Access the EPA Dow Cleanup website for links to the June 26, 2009, letter to Dow and EPA's fact sheet on the Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site and all background documents (click here).

Dow Chemical Dioxin Cleanup Update - Jun 24, 2009: Access more information from EPA's Dow Chemical cleanup website (click here).

EPA Says Dow Cleanup May Extend To 2018 - Jun 17, 2009: Access an article on the meeting in the Bay City Times (click here). Access another article in the Michigan Messenger (click here). Access EPA's Saginaw County field office: Phone: 989-790-5215. Access more information from EPA's Dow Chemical cleanup website (click here). Access additional information from the MDEQ Dioxin Information website (click here). Send a blank email message to this address to be added to the listserv (click here).

EPA Midland Area Dioxin Cleanup Meeting - Jun 15, 2009: Access an announcement from EPA with additional contact information (click here). Access more information from EPA's Dow Chemical cleanup website (click here). Access additional information from the MDEQ Dioxin Information website (click here).

Groups React To EPA's Dow Dioxin Cleanup Plans - May 26, 2009: Access a release from the groups (click here). Access EPA's Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website for background and additional information (click here).

EPA's Jackson Vows Stepped-Up Dioxin Action
- May 26: Access a release from EPA (click here). Access the detailed 5-page letter (click here). Access EPA's Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website for background and additional information (click here). Access EPA's Science Plan for Activities Related to Dioxins in the Environment, dated 5/26/09 (click here). Access EPA's Dioxin Science Plan website for additional information (click here).

New Review of University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study - May 3:  Access the UMDES website for links to all documents (click here). Access the UMDES overall website for complete information and background (click here). Access Associated Press article with further reaction to the latest study documents (click here).

Groups Again Urge President To Release Dioxin Reassessment - Apr 28: Access the latest letter and list of signers (click here). Access the EPA Q&A update document (click here). Access information on EPA February 2009 workshop (click here). Access the EPA Dioxin website for extensive information (click here).
 
Tri-Cities Dioxin Community Meeting May 6 - Apr 27: Access a release from MDEQ (click here). Access the MDEQ/Dow Community Involvement website (click here). Access the MDEQ Dioxin website for additional information (click here).
 
Dow To Cleanup Dioxin At Saginaw Twp West Michigan Park - Mar 3, 2009: Access a release from EPA (click here). Access more information from EPA's Dow-area cleanup website (click here).

MI Supreme Court To Hear Dow Dioxin Case - Mar 2, 2009: Access the announcement posted by Henry (click here). Access links to the briefs filed in the case including the several amicus curiae (click here).

Dow Resolution May Signal New EPA Enforcement Stance - Jan 29, 2009: Access a release from PEER and links to background information (click here). Access materials and documents related to Dow's off-site corrective action activities on the MDEQ website (click here); and on the EPA Region 5 website (click here). Access EPA's SAA website for more information (click here). Access the EPA docket on the 2007 SAA request for comment for additional information including EPA responses (click here). 

Mary Gade Shows Up At Dow Community Meeting - Jan 15, 2009: Access the Bay City Times article (click here). Access the Fact Sheet on the December talks with links to additional information (click here). Access materials and documents related to Dow's off-site corrective action activities on the MDEQ website (click here); and on the EPA Region 5 website (click here). Access EPA's SAA website for more information (click here). Access the EPA docket on the 2007 SAA request for comment for additional information including EPA responses (click here).

MSU End Of Year Report On Tittabawassee River Wildlife Project - Dec 1, 2008: Access the latest December 1, 2008, 2-page progress report (click here). Access the MSU Wildlife Project website (click here.

EPA & MDEQ Meeting & Documents On Dow Dioxin Cleanup - Jan 2, 2009: Along with the 9-page Special Notice Letter, EPA issued two additional document dated December 15, 2008: Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent (58pp); and a Statement of Work for Remedial Investigation, Feasibility Study (55pp). Access the Fact Sheet on the December talks with links to additional information (click here). Access materials and documents related to Dow's off-site corrective action activities on the MDEQ website (click here); and on the EPA Region 5 website (click here).


Groups Object To Superfund Alternative To Dow Dioxin Cleanup
- Dec 19, 2008: Access a release from the groups (click here). Access the letter to Johnson (click here). Access EPA's SAA website for more information (click here). Access the EPA docket on the 2007 SAA request for comment for additional information including EPA responses (click here).

Research Links Midland-Area Dioxin & Increased Breast Cancer - Oct 21, 2008: Access the abstract (click here). Access the complete 42-page research paper (click here).

DC Ethics Group Posts EPA Response To Dow/Gade FOIA Request - Aug 26: Access links to the CREW FOIA requests and related information (click here). Access an overview of the CREW FOIA request and links to various parts of the response document Access the complete 7211-page response PDF document (click here).

Dow's Dioxins: Saga Of Pollution - Aug 11, 2008: Access the complete article and links to related commentary and editorial (click here). Access a blog post on the article from C&EN (click here).

Boxer & Whitehouse Request Information On Gade Resignation - May 13: Access a news release from the Senators including the letter and questions to U.S. EPA (click here). Access an announcement from CREW and links to the FOIAs (click here).

DC Ethics Organization Submits FOIAs For Gade Information - May 7, 2008: Access an announcement from CREW and links to the FOIAs (click here).

 
Residents Want Congress To Investigate Gade Forced Resignation - May 7, 2008: Access a release from the residents and the letter to Congressional members (click here). Access the Senate hearing website for links to all testimony, opening statements and a webcast (click here). Access a release and floor statement from Senator  Whitehouse (click here). 

MDEQ/Dow Chemical Dioxin Community Meeting May 7 - May 5, 2008: Access an announcement from MDEQ (click here). Access the MDEQ/Dow Community Involvement website (click here). Access the Dow Off-site Corrective Action website (click here). Access the official website for the Tittabawassee River NRDA maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service including extensive background documents (click here). Access the MDEQ Dioxin Information website for additional information (click here).

Region 5 Chief Forced To Quit Over Dow Enforcement - May 1, 2008: Access a lengthy report in the Chicago Tribune (click here). Access the statement from MEC (click here). Access links to various media coverage (click here).

 
Outrage Follows Cherry's Deal On Dredged Material Disposal Facility - May 1, 2008: Access a release from LTC (click here). 
 
Lt. Gov. Cherry Negotiates "Deal" On Dredging Facility - May 1, 2008: Access a release from MDEQ (click here). Access an article in the Bay City Times article (click here). Access a letter from Zilwaukee Township to Lt. Governor Cherry (click here). Access the Lone Tree Council Dredge It Right website for extensive background information (click here).
 
Controversy Continues Over Saginaw River Dredge Facility - Apr 28, 2008: Access an article in the Bay City Times on the controversy (click here). Access a letter from Zilwaukee Township to Lt. Governor Cherry (click here).  Access the LTC Dredge It Right website for extensive background information (click here).
 
 
EPA & MDEQ Sample Neighborhood Soils In Saginaw For Dioxin - Apr 2, 2008: Access a release from EPA (click here).
 
Midland Area Damages Assessment Plan To Be Released April 7 - Mar 31: Natural Resource Damages Assessment (NRDA). Access the Draft Assessment Plan on the MDEQ website (click here). Access the Draft Assessment Plan on the FWS website (click here). Access the official website for the Tittabawassee River NRDA maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service including extensive background documents (click here).

Appeals Court Denies Dow Chemical Rehearing Request - Mar 13, 2008: Access the denial order (click here). Access the three original decisions: Fort Hood opinion (click here); Meter opinion (click here); and Kelly opinion (click here). Access the Docket No. 266433 (click here).

Dow Sues MDEQ On Saginaw Area Work Plan Modifications - Feb 21, 2008: Access a media report in the Midland Daily News (click here); and from WJRT-TV/DT (click here). Access the 21-page letter and SRB SOW Approval with Modifications (click here). Access the Dow Hazardous Waste Facility Operating License and Corrective Action Information website for background and additional information (click here). 

MDEQ Modifies & Approves Saginaw Bay/River/Floodplain Workplan - Feb 1, 2008: Access the 21-page letter and SRB SOW Approval with Modifications (click here). Access the Dow Hazardous Waste Facility Operating License and Corrective Action Information website for background and additional information (click here). 

Saginaw River Area Fish Eating Health Risks Report - Feb 7, 2008: Access the complete 54-page MDCH report (click here). Access a meeting agenda (click here). Access additional dioxin exposure reports and information from MDCH (click here). Access the MDEQ/Dow Community Involvement website (click here). Access the Dow Off-site Corrective Action website (click here). Access EPA's Dow/Midland area website for additional details (click here).

Quarterly Midland/Saginaw/Bay City Dioxin Community Meeting - Jan 31, 2008: Access an MDEQ announcement (click here). Access the MDEQ/Dow Community Involvement website (click here). Access the Dow Off-site Corrective Action website (click here). Access EPA's Dow/Midland area website for additional details (click here).

Henry & Others Similarly Situated v. Dow Chemical - Jan 24, 2008: Access the Fort Hood opinion (click here). Access the Meter opinion (click here). Access the Kelly opinion (click here).

EPA "Extremely Disappointed;" Ends Negotiations With Dow Chemical - Jan 4, 2008: Access a release from EPA (click here). Access EPA's Dow/Midland area website for additional details (click here). 

EPA & Dow Continue Superfund Negotiations On Dioxin Cleanup
- Dec 21, 2007: Access a release from EPA with links to additional information (click here).
Access the EPA Region 5 Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website for extensive information on the latest activities (click here)

Officials Discuss Midland Area Natural Resource Damage Assessment - Dec 13, 2007: Access the Bay City Times article (click here). Access the official website for the Tittabawassee River NRDA maintained by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (click here).  

Dow Submits Good Faith Offer For
Tittabawassee Dioxin Cleanup - Dec 10, 2007: Access a brief statement from Dow (click here). Access the complete 9-page, October 10, 2007, Special Notice Letter for The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan Tittabawassee River Dioxin Spill Site (click here). Access the EPA Region 5 Tittabawassee River / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website for extensive information on the latest activities (click here).
Access links to the latest media coverage (click here).

More On Dow Engineer Whistleblower Suit On Data Validity - Dec 7, 2007: Access the complaint filed in the case (click here). Access the Detroit Free Press article (click here). Access various media coverage of the action (click here). Access additional information from the Tittabawassee River Watch website (click here).

EPA Orders Immediate Cleanup Of Saginaw River Dioxin Hotspot - Nov 15, 2007: Access an EPA Region 5 release (click here). Access more information about the health effects of dioxin and pathways of human exposure, from the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry's website (click here). 

EPA Criticizes Dow For Minimizing Very High Dioxin Level - Nov 14: Access the note to correspondents from EPA (click here). Access links to various media reports on the hot spot (click here).

Saginaw River Dioxin Hotspot At 1.6 Million Parts Per Trillion - Nov 13, 2007: Access a release from EPA (click here).

 
Major Investigation Finds Potential CAA & RCRA Violations At Dow - Nov 9, 2007: Access a release from EPA with links to additional information (click here).

Groups Express Concern Over Dow "Closed Door" Negotiations - Oct 24, 2007: Access a posted release from the environmental organizations (click here).

Dow Agrees To Negotiate On Dioxin Superfund Cleanup - Oct 18, 2007: Access a release from EPA (click here).

EPA Gives Dow 60-Days To Negotiate Tittabawassee Cleanup - Oct 10, 2007: Access a release from EPA Region 5 (click here).

EPA & Midland Agree On Dioxin Sampling Disclosure - Sep 25, 2007: Access a release from EPA (click here).
 

EPA & City Of Midland Discuss Agency Data Requests - Sep 14, 2007: Access a release from EPA (click here).

EPA Calls For "Open Process" To Address Dow Dioxin Contamination - Sep 11, 2007: Access a release from EPA (click here).

EPA Demands Dioxin Data From Midland & Other Parties - Aug 31, 2007: Access a release from U.S. EPA (click here).

EPA Agreement With Dow On "Hot Spot" Cleanup Plan - Jul 13, 2007: Access an EPA release (click here).
 

Activists Post EPA Dow Review Document Finding "Significant Deficiencies" - Jul 11, 2007. Access the TRW/LTC website posting which summarizes some of their initial observations of the report (click here). Access the complete 44-page EPA review document (click here).
 
MDEQ Says Dow To Begin Cleanup Next Week - Jul 6, 2007: Access a release from MDEQ (click here).

EPA Orders Immediate Action On Dow Dioxin Cleanup - Jun 27, 2007: Access the release (click here).

 
Little Relationship Between Dioxin In Soil & Residents' Blood - Jun 5, 2007: Access the Midland Daily News article on the meeting (click here). Access the UMDES website for complete information (click here).

University Of Michigan Dow Dioxin Study Update - Apr 2, 2007: Access links to the latest updates (click here). Access the UMDES website for complete information (click here). Also see [See WIMS 8/15/06].

Sampling Reveals Major Dioxin Hotspots Needing Response - Jan 11, 2007: Access an MDEQ release (click here).

Dioxin Waste Planned For Upper Saginaw River Dredge Facility
- Sep 19, 2006: Access a posted release from LTC (click here). Access two EPA documents released by LTC which have been combined and posted on the WIMS-EcoBizPort website (click here). Access the DMDF ownership document (click here). Access the Legal Counsel document (click here). Access a webpage on the Environment Michigan website for the DMDF (click here). Access an MDEQ October 19, 2005, comments on the facility posted on the WIMS/EcoBizPort website (click here). Access the MDEQ Section 401 Certification website for the project (click here).

U-M Dioxin Exposure Study Released - Aug 15: Access an eNewsUSA Blog post for details and links to further information (click here).

Midland Groups Release ATSDR Letter On Dioxin "Action Level"
- Jul 25, 2006: Access the joint press release (click here). Access the letter to ATSDR (click here). Access the complete ATSDR response (click here).

 

NAS Committee Split On Classifying Dioxin "Carcinogenic To Humans" - Jul 11, 2006: Access a NAS release (click here). Access the report by chapters for reading on-line (click here).

NAS To Release Evaluation Of EPA Dioxin Reassessment - Jul 7, 2006: Access the meeting details (click here). Access the National Academies Review of EPA's Assessment of the Health Implications of Exposure to Dioxins website (click here). Access EPA's Dioxin Reassessment, NAS Review Draft website (click here).

Midland Group Expresses Concern Over Dow Consultant - Jun 4, 2006: Access the TRW website (click here). Access the EWG investigation leading to the professional article retraction (click here). Access the ChemRisk website for extensive information on the company and Dr. Paustenbach (click here).

Judge In Dow Class Action Announces Retirement - Mar 5, 2006: Access the Saginaw News article posted on the Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) website (click here). Access further information on the TRW website (click here).

 
TRW Post Draft MDEQ Deficiency Document For Dow Dioxin Work Plans - Feb 24, 2006: Access the TRW website (click here). Access the TRW posting of the MDEQ document (click here). Access the EPA review document (click here). Access links to the complete Dow Work Plan and related information (click here). Access the Dow Hazardous Waste Facility Operating License and Corrective Action Information website (click here).
 
EPA Rejects Dow Midland/Tittabawassee River Work Plans - Feb 21, 2006: Access the document (click here). Access links to the complete Work Plan and related information (click here). Access the Dow Hazardous Waste Facility Operating License and Corrective Action Information website (click here).
 
MDEQ/Dow Tri-Cities Dioxin Meeting - Feb 10, 2006: Access the GLNPO Grant study presentation (click here). Access links to various current and previous community meeting information (click here). Access the Tittabawassee River Watch website for additional information regarding the meeting (click here).
 
Opposing Views Broadcasts On Midland Dioxin Issues - Jan 17, 2006: Access the Egerer broadcast (click here). Access the Clift broadcast (click here). [Note: In both broadcasts the guest appears approximately half-way through the broadcast. RealPlayer is required to view the broadcast]. Access the Off the Record Archives for other broadcasts (click here).
 
Chester Speaks Out On Dow Dioxin Issue - Jan 6: In the aftermath of the Governor's veto of House Bill 4617, the so-called "Homeowners Fairness Act," and a recent editorial in the Midland Daily News, MDEQ Director Steven Chester responded with a January 6, 2006, letter to the editor of the newspaper. The following is an excerpt [emphasis is contained in the original]. Links to the complete Chester letter and the Midland Daily News editorial are posted on the websites below.
    "First, in Michigan's cleanup law 'facility' is the word the legislature chose when referring to property that is contaminated. A parcel of property that is contaminated is -- by operation of law - a 'facility.' The DEQ does not -- in fact cannot -- designate a property to be a facility. True, the department may have reason to believe a property is contaminated based on existing data, but a property owner always has the opportunity to show otherwise based on other information. If a property is contaminated, this triggers important protections for the homeowner, including imposing on the polluter the financial responsibility to clean up the property. Also, if a property is contaminated (is a facility), a potential new homeowner of the property must be informed of this fact by the existing homeowner. These are clearly reasonable and desirable public policy outcomes.
    "Second, despite what is said in your editorial, the algorithms used to set cleanup levels have not been a source of historical controversy or dispute. The algorithms are formulas developed by scientists over time to account for what the science tells us about human exposure to a particular contaminant. In using these formulas, the DEQ is not doing anything unique or extraordinary. The formula for soil contamination is technically similar to that used by the EPA and by other states to set cleanup levels. Except for modest adjustments, this soil formula has been in use by the DEQ since 1995 to set cleanup levels for literally hundreds of contaminants.
    Let me also respond to your statement that the DEQ must be reined in. This implies that the department somehow has acted arbitrarily and inappropriately in responding to the dioxin issue. To the contrary, let me assure you that with respect to dioxin, the DEQ has spent more time and resources on it than on any other issue during my tenure as director. We have also done extensive public outreach, hosting nine public meetings since March 2005. Throughout, our goal has always been to strike a fair balance between protecting human health and the environment, and preserving the economic well-being of the affected communities and homeowners.
    We believe we have found the right balance in the Framework Agreement signed by DEQ and The Dow Chemical Co. in January 2005..."
   
Access the complete letter to the editor posted on the WIMS-EcoBizPort.com website (click here). Access the December 30, 2005, Midland Daily News Editorial (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources 
(click here).  [*MIRemed, *MIToxics]


MDEQ Settles With Dow Chemical
- Jan 5: MDEQ announced that it has reached a settlement with The Dow Chemical Company resulting from violations of the Midland facility’s hazardous waste operating license. The consent order signed by the two parties resolves Dow’s use of a waste classification system that did not comply with Michigan’s hazardous waste regulations or the operating license, and settles allegations that Dow failed to report environmental monitoring data to MDEQ related to the investigation of off-site contamination. MDEQ Director Steven Chester said, “The consent order resolves this situation and allows DEQ and Dow to focus our joint efforts on the ongoing remedial efforts." Dow has agreed to pay $69,998 in civil fines to settle the allegations, $7,000 to the State for partial reimbursement of the costs of investigation and enforcement, and will submit a report detailing the steps taken to remedy the violations. Access a release (click here). Access the Dow Hazardous Waste Facility Operating License and Corrective Action Information website for extensive information (click here). [*MIHaz]

Dow Chemical Submits Midland Area RI Work Plan - Jan 3: A work plan to conduct a Remedial Investigation (RI) of the contamination in Midland area soils and the Tittabawassee River and floodplain was received on December 29, 2005 by MDEQ from The Dow Chemical Company. Submittal of this work plan was required by Dow’s June 2003 hazardous waste management facility operating license and the January 2005 Framework for an Agreement between MDEQ and Dow. In a release, MDEQ indicated that a discussion of this work plan will be the main topic of the next quarterly Midland/Saginaw/Bay City Tri Cities Dioxin Community meeting hosted by MDEQ and Dow on Thursday, February 9, 2006, at the Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw. The meeting is open to the public and will run from 6:30 to 9:00 PM. Staff from MDEQ and Dow will be available one-half hour before and after the meeting for individual discussion with the public. During 2006, additional quarterly community meetings are scheduled to be held on May 10, August 9, and November 8. Residents are encouraged to provide their comments on Dow’s work plan at the community meeting. Alternatively, comments can be submitted by mail to Cheryl Howe, MDEQ Waste & Hazardous Materials Division, PO Box 30241, Lansing, MI, 48909-7741, or by Email (click here). Access background information and supporting materials for the meeting, including the work plan (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*MIRemed, *MIToxics]


Governor Vetoes HB 4617 "Homeowners Fairness Act" - Dec 27: MDEQ Director Steven Chester applauded Governor Granholm’s veto of House Bill 4617, the so-called "Homeowners Fairness Act," a bill which he said, "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 highly complex cleanup bill, that evolved from the Midland area dioxin cleanup problem, but would apply Statewide, had widespread business interest support. The bill, would have significantly altered the contamination site cleanup process and was opposed by environmental organizations, as well as MDEQ.
    Chester said, “I am pleased with the action taken by the Governor today to stand up for Michigan’s future. We all share a commitment to growing Michigan’s economy, but we cannot do that at the expense of our environment or the health of our citizens.” Director Chester indicated that MDEQ has worked to be responsive to the concerns of area citizens, including implementing a new policy that clarifies the agency's role in the cleanup process, as well as offering alternative language to the sponsors of HB 4617. MDEQ said those efforts were "ultimately ignored," but indicated a need to work together with concerned legislators to reach a "satisfactory conclusion to this issue." Chester said, “I look forward to continuing our efforts to resolve any disagreements or misunderstandings about how the state’s cleanup program works. I am confident that we can all arrive at a solution that truly protects homeowners, and protects our environment.”
 

    In her veto message the Governor indicated the bill would: "Hinder the state’s ability to respond to all significant risks to public health and the environment; Increase the costs and slow the pace of environmental cleanup and redevelopment activity by mandating unnecessary testing, prolonging uncertainty; Create opportunities for polluters to delay cleaning up the contamination they cause, while increasing the burden on the state; Provide polluters inappropriate protections, allowing them to avoid responsibility for cleaning-up environmental contamination; and Limit critical information homeowners, renters, and others need about environmental contamination." Despite the veto, she said, "While I have vetoed this legislation, I want it to be clear that I share the concerns of many about the Department of Environmental Quality’s handling of remediation efforts relating to dioxin in Midland and along the Tittabawassee River... I also am supportive of further changes to improve the process followed by the Department of Environmental Quality, including enhanced opportunities for potentially affected homeowners to provide data..."
    Access an MDEQ release (click here). Access the Governor's complete veto message (click here, p.2599). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*MIRemed, *MIToxics]

Complex Cleanup Bill Awaits Fate On Senate Floor - Dec 5:  A highly complex cleanup bill, HB 4617, that evolved from the Midland area dioxin cleanup problem, but would apply Statewide, has already passed the House; and a new Senate Substitute (S1) that has widespread business interest support awaits consideration on the Senate Floor. The bill, which would significantly alter the contamination site cleanup process, is opposed by environmental organizations and the MDEQ. The following recent analysis of the Substitute bill indicates the complexity and potential costs that may be associated with the bill. The bill is now being called the "Homeowners Fairness Act."

    "The bill would amend Part 201 (Environmental Response) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act to require the designation of a 'facility' to be based on testing or an agreement among the property owner, the State, and the person liable for contamination; exclude a "remediated site" from designation as a facility; and require that peer-reviewed studies and criteria be incorporated into remedial action plans.
    "Under the bill, a parcel of property or portion of a parcel would be considered a 'facility' containing a hazardous substance as determined by testing conducted according to scientifically accepted methods on soil or water samples collected from the parcel. In the absence of testing, a parcel of property could be considered a facility if the owner of the property, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the person liable for any contamination on the property agreed to the designation in writing based on the presence of hazardous substances in the vicinity.
    "The bill also would exclude remediated sites from being designated as a facility. "Remediated site" would mean a parcel of property at which all response activities required by the DEQ to meet applicable closure standards have been met. If a new release occurred on the property after the completion date of previously required response activities, then the site could be considered a facility.
    "In addition, when the DEQ developed a site-specific remedial action plan instead of using generic cleanup criteria, the DEQ would have to incorporate area-wide or site-specific cleanup criteria from peer-reviewed bioavailability studies, peer-reviewed site-specific human exposure data, and any other peer-reviewed scientifically based risk assessment studies that were available and relevant. A liable party could submit to the DEQ other relevant information that could assist in the development of the remedial action plan. (Less than 5% of contaminated sites have individual remedial action plans.)
    "The bill would cost the State an indeterminate amount. It could require additional soil and water sample testing at a cleanup site in order for the DEQ to designate a parcel of property as a facility. According to the DEQ, soil sampling costs range from $1,000 to $10,000 and groundwater wells range from $6,000 to $80,000. The costs would depend on the number of cleanup sites and the number and complexity of the potential contaminants. Potential facilities that are residential with small parcels would require more sampling and higher costs. The requirement for peer-reviewed studies for site-specific remedial action plans would increase the cleanup costs of some contaminated sites; however, this cost would be borne by the liable party."
    Access the analysis (click here). Access legislative details for HB 4617 (click here). Access a November 30, Saginaw News article on the bill (click here). Access additional information on the bill posted by Tittabawassee River Watch (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*MIRemed, *MIToxics]

Judge Says No To Class Action Delay - Nov 7: Following an October 21 ruling from Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Leopold Borrello which granted class status to some 2000 property owners in the Tittabawassee River flood plain [See WIMS 10/24/05], Dow Chemical Company requested a delay in the proceedings while it appeals the ruling to see if the case should move forward. According to media reports, Judge Borrello said no to the delay and Dow was expected to appeal that ruling also. The case, Henry v. Dow was initiated by approximately 170 property owners. Other property owners, meeting the class definition will automatically become part of the class action; unless they specifically opt out of the class. In his original ruling on the validity of the class action, the Judge said, "To deny a class action in this case and allow the plaintiffs to pursue individual claims would result in up to 2,000 individual claims being filed in this court. Such a result would impede the convenient administration of justice." Dow Chemical argues, however, that each case is different and should be pursued separately. Now that the Judge has denied Dow's request for a delay, the Plaintiff's attorneys are preparing to notify the 2000 residents of their options by the end of November.

    In a related matter, MDEQ and Dow Chemical are preparing to host the first quarterly Community Meeting on addressing the challenges related to the mid-Michigan dioxin and furan situation. The meeting is open to the public and will be held on November 9, 2005, at the Horizons Conference Center, 6200 State Street, Saginaw. The meeting will run from 6:30 to 9:00 PM, and staff from MDEQ and Dow will be available one-half hour before and after the meeting for individual discussion with the public. The complete agenda and meeting materials are available on the MDEQ website below.
    Access links to the latest media coverage (click here). Access the Tittabawassee River Watch chronology of actions on the lawsuit with links to pertinent documents (click here). Access the Community Meeting Agenda and supporting materials (click here).  Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*MIRemed, *MIToxics]

Controversial "Facility" Definition Bill Nears Passage - Nov 3: The controversial bill designed to alter the "facility" designation under Part 201 was reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee and could be considered by the full Senate on November 8. An earlier version of the bill, HB 4617, now known as the "Homeowner Fairness Act," passed the House on June 29, 2005, by a vote of 77-29. The bill, which originated from the problems and issues associated with the cleanup of dioxin contamination in the Midland-Tittabawassee River area; would amend Part 201 (Environmental Response) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) to require the designation of a "facility" to be based on testing or the property owner's agreement; exclude a "remediated site" from designation as a facility; and require that peer-reviewed studies and criteria be incorporated into remedial action plans. Identical Senate and House bills, SB 0390 and HB 4617, respectively were originally introduced by Senator Michael Goschka (R-Brant Twp) and Representative John Moolenaar (R- Midland).

    In addition, the bill would direct MDEQ to incorporate into a remedial action plan for every contaminated site area-wide or site-specific cleanup criteria from peer-reviewed bioavailability studies, peer-reviewed site-specific human exposure data, and any other peer-reviewed scientifically based risk assessment studies that were available and relevant. According to a Senate analysis, "The bill would cost the State an indeterminate amount. It could require additional soil and water sample testing at a cleanup site in order for the DEQ to designate a parcel of property as a facility. The requirement for peer-reviewed studies for cleanup criteria, human exposure data, and other relevant information would increase the cleanup costs of some contaminated sites. The costs would depend on the number of cleanup sites and the number and complexity of the potential contaminants."
    While exact positions on the latest version of the bill are not known, earlier versions were supported by: Michigan Chamber of Commerce; City of Midland; Michigan Chemistry Council; Tittabawassee River Voice; Midland Matters; Home Builders Association of Midland. MDEQ, the Michigan Environmental Council and the Lone Tree Council opposed the bill. In late October the Democratic-dominated Saginaw County Board of Commissioners voted to support the bill. Access complete legislative details and links to analyses (click here). Access a Midland Daily News article on the bill (click here). Access a Saginaw News article on the Saginaw County consideration (click here). [*MIRemed]

MDEQ Announces Dioxin Activities Community Meeting - Oct 28: MDEQ and The Dow Chemical Company are hosting the first quarterly Community Meeting on addressing the challenges related to the mid-Michigan dioxin and furan situation. The meeting is open to the public and will be held on Wednesday, November 9, 2005, at the Horizons Conference Center, 6200 State Street, Saginaw. The meeting will run from 6:30 to 9:00 PM, and staff from MDEQ and Dow will be available one-half hour before and after the meeting for individual discussion with the public. The Community Meeting is an outcome of the modified "Ongoing Community Involvement Process" that was developed following the series of convening and town hall meetings held in the tri-cities area earlier this year. Representatives from MDEQ, Dow, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be available to provide status updates on work being done in these areas, discuss ongoing public involvement activities, and take questions from the public.
    A copy of the agenda for the meeting will appear in display advertisements in the October 30 and November 6 (Sunday), editions of local newspapers. The agenda and supporting materials for the meeting are also available on the MDEQ website (See below).
Some attached agenda items include: A Community Involvement Process docment; a general description of how the Scopes of Work (SOWs) for Midland Area and Tittabawassee River and Floodplain that were approved on October 18, 2005, lead into the development of the Remedial Investigation Work Plans that are due on December 31, 2005 [DEQ Approval Letter, Midland SOW Cover Letter, Midland Area SOW, Tittabawassee SOW Cover Letter, Tittabawassee SOW]; Update on Bioavailability pilot study results, independent science advisory panel review of study work plan, and next steps [Bioavailability Documents]; and an Introduction to Natural Resources Damages Assessment (NRDA) Process.
    
The meeting will be run by a professional facilitator, who will be responsible to ensure that the meeting runs according to the agenda and that attendees are provided an equal opportunity to participate. In 2006, quarterly Community Meetings are scheduled to be held on February 9, May 10, August 9, and November 8. The goals of the meetings are to help keep the community informed about recent corrective action investigation and response activities, increase the number of people participating, improve decisions, and build trust among participants. 
    Access an MDEQ announcement (
click here). Access the Agenda and supporting materials (click here).  Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*MIRemed, *MIToxics]


Judge Approves Class Action In Dow Dioxin Case - Oct 21, 2005: Saginaw County Circuit Court Judge Leopold Borrello granted class status to some 2000 property owners in the Tittabawassee River flood plain. The case, Henry v. Dow was initiated by approximately 170 property owners. Other property owners, meeting the class definition will automatically become part of the class action; unless they specifically opt out of the class. According to a report in the Midland Daily News, the Judge ruled that, "To deny a class action in this case and allow the plaintiffs to pursue individual claims would result in up to 2,000 individual claims being filed in this court. Such a result would impede the convenient administration of justice." To the contrary, Dow Chemical Company argues that each case is different and should be pursued separately. Dow reportedly said it will appeal the Judge's decision. The decision would allow the class action case to move forward on the issue of loss of property values. In July, the Michigan Supreme Court denied plaintiffs the right to pursue medical monitoring claims saying that the potential impacts on the State's economy are too important for it to rule in favor of the citizen plaintiffs regarding their request for medical monitoring costs related to dioxin exposures. Instead, the High Court suggested that the Legislature should assume the responsibility of clarifying State law as they are "better suited to undertake the complex task of balancing the competing societal interests at stake." 

    Access links to the latest media coverage (click here). Access the Tittabawassee River Watch website for further information (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*MIRemed, *MIToxics]

Legislators Challenge MDEQ "Facility" Designation - Jul 28, 2005: Four State Republican lawmakers announced they are seeking a formal ruling by the Michigan attorney general regarding the legality of the state’s abrupt new tactic on designating contaminated property. Representatives John Moolenaar of Midland and Roger Kahn of Saginaw Township, and Senators Tony Stamas of Midland and Mike Goschka of Brant Township, said the latest "ploy on facility designations will likely continue to negatively impact hundreds of mid-Michigan homeowners and create new problems for people across the state." The lawmakers are asking whether the MDEQ has the authority to designate property as contaminated without direct evidence such as soil samples, and whether it violated State law by failing to issue a public notice or sponsor a public hearing on the rule change. Moolenaar said, “The DEQ’s covert approach to public policy shows a lack of respect for a truly open government and is an affront to the rights of all homeowners in Michigan. The facility designation is affecting residents’ lives and livelihoods, and it’s unfortunate the people’s wishes were not sought before the secret policy switch.” Goschka said, “This is nothing more than a blatant last minute, desperate attempt on the part of Director Chester and the DEQ to prolong their subterfuge over the innocent homeowners of the Tittabawassee River floodplain. At a time when open government is clearly the rule of the day, it is simply amazing that the department would try to usurp the remedy that has been working its way through the Legislature via House Bill 4617 and Senate Bill 390. It is incumbent upon all of us to stand up and defend not only our own constituents, but all of the innocent, hard-working homeowners throughout the state of Michigan.” The legislators said the "facility" label has had a "negative impact on home values, thwarted economic development, and cost jobs for area residents." Residents living on the properties are being required to restrict moving or disturbing the soil. The lawmakers have requested that MDEQ not implement the new language until the attorney general has ruled.            
     Access a joint release from the legislators (click here). Access a webcast of the legislators' news conference (click here, RealPlayer 8.7MB). Access the MDEQ FAQ document explaining the 4-page Policy & Procedures on "Facility Status Under Part 201," dated July 15, 2005 (click here). Access a copy of the Policy & Procedures document obtained from MDEQ and posted on the WIMS-EcoBizPort website (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (
click here). [*MIRemed, *MIToxics]


Advisory To Explain Revised "Facility" Policy - Jul 21: MDEQ has prepared a 4 page advisory that has been mailed to Midland and Tittabawassee River area residents and posted on the MDEQ website which addresses it's new 4-page Policy & Procedures document on "Facility Status Under Part 201," dated July 15, 2005 [See WIMS 7/20/05]. The document addresses frequently asked questions such as: What is a facility? What are cleanup criteria? Why is the term facility important in Part 201? Does the DEQ designate a property a facility? What obligations apply to the owners of property that is part of a facility as a result of contamination migrating onto their property? How did the DEQ determine which areas of the Tittabawassee River floodplain are part of the facility? How did the DEQ determine which areas in the city of Midland are part of the facility? Can my property be part of a hazardous waste facility? The document, referred to as the Revised Advisory, revises a previously issued June 2003 Supplemental Advisory and clarifies: 1) which properties are part of the Facility; 2) what the DEQ knows about the migration of contamination; and 3) what is required of owners of contaminated property. Access the document (click here). Access a copy of the Policy & Procedures document obtained from MDEQ and posted on the WIMS-EcoBizPort website (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*MIRemed]


MDEQ Clarifies "Facility" Status Under Part 201 - Jul 15: MDEQ has prepared a 4-page Policy & Procedures document on "Facility Status Under Part 201," dated July 15, 2005. The document is not yet posted on the MDEQ website but we have posted a copy obtained from MDEQ on the WIMS-EcoBizPort website (See below). The status of a property as a "facility" is critical under the Part 201 program and describes the response activity area and triggers the responsibilities of both the liable and non-liable owners and operators of the properties. MDEQ says the revised policy is designed to assure that properties in the vicinity of area-wide contamination (e.g. Midland area dioxin contamination) "are not inappropriately treated as part of a facility..." Access the complete document  (click here). [*MIRemed]


 
High Court Denies Dioxin Medical Monitoring - Jul 13, 2005: In the case of Henry v. The Dow Chemical Co. in the Michigan Supreme Court, Case No.125205. In a 5-2 decision, the Michigan High Court focuses directly on the priority of environmental and public health protection versus the State's economy. In this case, the Supreme Court said that the potential impacts on the State's economy are too important for it to rule in favor of the citizen plaintiffs regarding their request for medical monitoring costs related to dioxin exposures. Instead, it suggests that the Legislature should assume the responsibility of clarifying State law as they are "better suited to undertake the complex task of balancing the competing societal interests at stake." Justices voting in the majority included Maura D. Corrigan, Clifford W. Taylor, Elizabeth A. Weaver, Robert P. Young, Jr., Stephen J. Markman. Justice Weaver issued a separate concurring opinion. Michael F. Cavanagh and Marilyn Kelly issued the dissenting opinion. In the majority opinion summary of the case, the Michigan High Court said:
    "
The 173 plaintiffs in this matter have asked to represent a putative class of thousands in an action against defendant, The Dow Chemical Company. Their core allegation is that Dow’s plant in Midland, Michigan, negligently released dioxin, a synthetic chemical that is potentially hazardous to human health, into the Tittabawassee flood plain where the plaintiffs and the putative class members live and work.
    "This situation appears, at first blush, to have the makings of a standard tort cause of action. But closer inspection of plaintiffs’ motion for class certification reveals that one of plaintiffs’ claims is premised on a novel legal theory in Michigan tort law and thus raises an issue of first impression for this Court.
    "In an ordinary 'toxic tort' cause of action, a plaintiff alleges he has developed a disease because of exposure to a toxic substance negligently released by the defendant. In this case, however, the plaintiffs do not allege that the defendant’s negligence has actually caused the manifestation of disease or physical injury. Instead, they allege that defendant’s negligence has created the
risk [emphasis in original] of disease -- that they may at some indefinite time in the future develop disease or physical injury because of defendant’s allegedly negligent release of dioxin.
    "Accordingly, the plaintiffs have asked the circuit court to certify a class that collectively seeks the creation of a program, to be funded by defendant and supervised by the court, that would monitor the class and their representatives for possible future manifestations of dioxin-related disease. The defendant moved for summary disposition, arguing that plaintiffs’ medical monitoring
claim was not cognizable under Michigan law. The circuit court denied this motion, and the Court of Appeals denied defendant’s interlocutory application for leave to appeal.
    "We now reverse the circuit court order denying the motion and remand for entry of summary disposition in favor of defendant on plaintiffs’ medical monitoring claim. Because plaintiffs do not allege a present [emphasis in original] injury, plaintiffs do not present a viable negligence claim under Michigan’s common law. Although we recognize that the common law is an instrument that may change as times and circumstances require, we decline plaintiffs’ invitation to alter the common law of negligence liability to encompass a cause of action for medical monitoring. Recognition of a medical monitoring claim would involve extensive fact-finding and the weighing of numerous and conflicting policy concerns. We lack sufficient information to assess intelligently and fully the potential consequences of recognizing a medical monitoring claim.
    "Equally important is that plaintiffs have asked this Court to effect a change in Michigan law that, in our view, ought to be made, if at all, by the Legislature. Indeed, the Legislature has already established policy in this arena by delegating the responsibility for dealing with health risks stemming from industrial pollution to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). As a
matter of prudence, we defer in this case to the people’s representatives in the Legislature, who are better suited to undertake the complex task of balancing the competing societal interests at stake.
    "We therefore remand this matter to the circuit court for entry of summary disposition in defendant’s favor on plaintiffs’ medical monitoring claim."
    Clearly the High Court was focused on the economic implications and precedent of a decision in favor of the citizen plaintiffs as it said, "...we have no assurance that a decision in plaintiffs’ favor -- which would create a hitherto unrecognized cause of action with a potentially limitless class of plaintiffs -- will not wreak enormous harm on Michigan’s citizens and its economy. . . We would be unwise, to say the least, to alter the common law in the manner requested by plaintiffs when it is unclear what the consequences of such a decision may be and when we have strong suspicions, shared by our nation’s highest court, that they may well be disastrous... the judiciary’s obligation to exercise caution and to defer to the Legislature when called upon to make a new and potentially societally dislocating change to the common law... Accordingly, we remand this matter to the Saginaw Circuit Court for entry of an order of summary disposition in defendant’s favor with regard to plaintiffs’ medical monitoring cause of action."
    The majority opinion included several pages of comment on the dissenting opinion, e.g. "
Although the dissenting opinion is passionately argued and, no doubt, well-intentioned, it is rooted in a number of fundamental misconceptions about the applicable law and about our majority opinion.... The dissent’s disdain for our 'concerns about financial impact' can be sustained only by disregarding the effect that these other preinjury actions might have on the state’s economy. To recognize a medical monitoring cause of action would essentially be to accord carte blanche to any moderately creative lawyer to identify an emission from any business enterprise anywhere, speculate about the adverse health consequences of such an emission, and thereby seek to impose on such business the obligation to pay the medical costs of a segment of the population that has suffered no actual medical harm..."
    The nearly 25-page dissenting opinion of Cavanagh and Marilyn Kelly said, "The proper issue in this case is whether defendant must pay for plaintiffs’ medical monitoring costs. However, rather than simply address this basic issue, the majority chooses to use this case as a vehicle to raise fears about the economy and hypothesize that providing medical monitoring to these plaintiffs would result in our state’s economic disaster. The majority erroneously presents this case as one in which it must choose between an equitable remedy for plaintiffs and the economic viability of defendant and of our state. Because the dichotomy the majority has constructed is a false one, I must dissent... Throughout its opinion, the majority invokes the fear of a ruined economy to support its decision...
    "At its core, this is not a complex case. Defendant contaminated the environment with dioxin. Because of defendant’s conduct, plaintiffs require medical monitoring to ensure that the negative effects of defendant’s acts can be best countered. Medical monitoring costs money. Plaintiffs, defendant, or the taxpayers of the state of Michigan must pay the costs. Because plaintiffs only require medical monitoring as a result of defendant’s conduct, it seems clear that it is reasonable that defendant pay the costs. This is not meant to punish defendant; it merely seeks to hold defendant to the reasonable standard that a polluter pays for the costs of polluting. 'The mere fact that a wrongdoer may suffer, however, will not deter equity from granting relief to an injured party.' 27A Am Jur 2d, Equity, § 102, p 588. The majority’s decision that plaintiffs cannot seek equitable relief is indefensible when one realizes that its position leaves plaintiffs who cannot afford to pay for doctor-prescribed medical monitoring with no recourse...
    "...the majority holds that defendant’s egregious long-term contamination of our environment and the resulting negative health effects to plaintiffs are just another accepted cost of doing business..."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). Access all of the briefs filed in the Dow case (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (
click here). [MIToxics]

MDEQ/Dow Propose Dioxin Community Involvement Plan - Jun 14, 2005: As reported by the watchdog group Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW), MDEQ announced [no press release was issued] a Community Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting on June 28 at the Horizons Center at 6200 State St., Saginaw, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. The meeting, open to the general public, will be facilitated by a professional, neutral facilitator. According to the announcement, in January, 2005, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) signed a "Framework for an Agreement" (Framework) to help shape the path forward to address historical dioxin releases in Midland, the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers, and Saginaw Bay. One element of the Framework calls for the establishment of a broad-based community involvement process to advise the parties as they move forward. To that end, the DEQ and Dow held a series of four convening meetings in March and April 2005 as a first step in determining how to structure community involvement. In those meetings, community members expressed three clear directions for the public involvement process (1) Information should be presented clearly and unambiguously (2) The DEQ and Dow should use a variety of means to convey information to the community (3) People should have meaningful input into the decisions about how the historical dioxin releases in the area will be addressed. In response, the DEQ and Dow have prepared a "proposed on-going community involvement plan".
    MDEQ said, "Because the CAP has proven valuable in many regards, we are reconvening the CAP specifically to gather input on the proposed ongoing community involvement plan. We are inviting the entire CAP membership, but others who may wish to be involved at this stage are also welcome. Comments from the meeting will be used to refine the proposal prior to obtaining comments from the broader community. A series of three town hall meetings will be held in the area during the summer to obtain public comment on the proposed community involvement plan."

    In a related item, TRW has also posted a May 6, 2005, letter from MDEQ to Dow requesting the company to supply the State with sampling results which were obtained without the knowledge of MDEQ and in violation of the company's license and the Framework Agreement. TRW and MDEQ have now posted the results of that sampling on their websites.
    Access the MDEQ announcement (click here). Access the MDEQ/Dow June 14 proposed community involvement plan (click here). Access the June 14 MDEQ/Dow Summary of Insights from the Convening Meetings (click here). Access the TRW website for the May 6 letter (click here). Access the TRW website for additional information (click here). Access the MDEQ Dow license and corrective action website for additional information (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*Toxics, Remed]

Groups Criticize "Dow-Granholm" Dioxin Deal - Jan 24: Leading citizens and environmental groups sharply criticized an agreement between Dow Chemical Company and the Granholm Administration, saying it fails to deliver a cleanup of dioxin contamination in the Saginaw Bay basin. The groups issuing the statement included Lone Tree Council, Michigan Environmental Council, Ecology Center, Sierra Club, Tittabawassee River Watch, Clean Water Action, CACC, Citizens Against Toxic Substances, Environmental Health Watch and PIRGIM. Michelle Hurd Riddick, a Lone Tree Council member who lives in the basin said, "This agreement is a failure. It's promoted as results-oriented, but the only result will be further delays, more studies, and it does little to protect the health of residents. Dow's dioxin contamination is a public health threat, economic mess and Dow needs to start cleanup now. We are terribly disappointed. We know Governor Granholm cares about children, dioxin's most vulnerable population. And kids are not guinea pigs who should be forced to await more years of testing and data collection by Dow Chemical." James Clift, Michigan Environmental Council Policy Director said, "All this agreement promises is a house cleaning, some lawn services and more studies. It doesn't even rise to the level of a short-term fix. It's no fix at all and, in fact, moves us backward on a public health issue of monumental importance. Instead of imposing cleanup deadlines, it focuses on Dow's strategy of more study, more public relations, more delay." The groups said they would continue to pressure Governor Granholm on Dow's dioxin contamination. In December the groups outlined a seven-point set of criteria to guide the dioxin cleanup by Dow. The said the latest "Framework" agreement announced January 19, 2005, "derails dioxin cleanup timelines and initiatives previously outlined by the Department of Environmental Quality. And the new agreement fails to meet any of the environmental groups' cleanup guidelines." Access a posted release listing the groups' cleanup guidelines and links to further information (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here).


MDEQ-Dow Midland Area Dioxin Cleanup Framework - Jan 20: MDEQ has now posted the official "Framework" document between the State and Dow Chemical regarding the Midland area dioxin contamination cleanup. The Framework for a proposed agreement between the State of Michigan and Dow Chemical Company establishes the path forward to achieving three goals: (1) Ensuring that certain immediate actions will be initiated to address government and public concerns about the presence of dioxins/furans in the City of Midland and in and along the Tittabawassee River; (2) Creating a defined process for moving forward to address remaining concerns regarding these areas and the Saginaw River and Bay by ensuring that ecological and human risk reduction and restoration projects can be implemented that provide environmental protection and meaningful local environmental and public benefits, including enhancement of ongoing regional economic development efforts; and (3) Providing a structure for Dow to resolve with finality potential government claims arising from various historical releases. The Framework results from discussions between MDEQ and Dow that occurred at the request of the Governor and various elected representatives and under the oversight of the Lieutenant Governor. The parties agree that an innovative approach on these issues will provide greater and more rapid public benefits than a traditional litigation-based approach.

    The Framework indicates that response activities focused on the greatest health and environmental risks will be dealt with first, meaning those areas where surface concentrations of dioxin may exceed 1,000 parts per trillion (ppt). The two parties say that they will seek to expeditiously and efficiently achieve EPA's RCRA Corrective Action Environment Indicator goal of "no significant human exposures." Among many other items, Dow will fund studies that will include obtaining sufficient information to evaluate remedial alternatives in accordance with applicable law, including identifying those areas of dioxin and furan contaminated sediments that can be cost-effectively removed from the river in a manner that achieves the optimum environmental benefit, taking into consideration the costs of removal and the environmental impacts associated with sediment removal. Under the Framework, Dow may propose dredged material disposal options other than disposal in a Type II landfill, such as an engineered disposal facility similar to confined disposal facilities used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to contain dredged materials. By December 31, 2005, Dow will submit to MDEQ a Remedial Investigation work plan incorporating previously submitted work plans and addressing the remaining work to be done. MDEQ will not require further interim action by Dow before January of 2006 unless new information becomes available that indicates further immediate actions in advance of a remedial action plan must be taken to protect human health or the environment.
    With regard to stakeholder involvement in the Framework activities, the agreement says, "The specific processes for keeping stakeholders informed of significant developments and for gathering the input of stakeholders have not yet been determined." It is indicated that a facilitator may be used to organize and enhance communications with all stakeholders, and Dow will provide a grant of $50,000, for retention by the group of stakeholders of an independent expert from a list of qualified, neutral individuals developed by Dow and the State to help local groups and community members understand technical issues and provide substantive input.
    The document does not contain any reference to the Michigan dioxin cleanup standard of 90 ppt which has been highly criticized as being too stringent by many Midland area officials and residents. Instead, the agreement provides, "DEQ will assist in and consider on the merits the results of the ongoing bioavailability study in developing potential area wide and site specific cleanup criteria for dioxins. If Dow demonstrates that the use of probabilistic risk assessment improves the analysis and characterization of variability and uncertainties regarding exposure and risks, DEQ will consider the results of Dow's proposed use of probabilistic risk assessment in developing potential area wide and site specific cleanup criteria for dioxins in accordance with applicable law."
    Access the complete 73-page (10 page agreement + maps and attachments) agreement (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [MIToxics]

MDEQ and Dow Agree On Framework - Jan 19, 2005: MDEQ announced that an agreement has been reached with the Dow Chemical Company on framework to begin immediate work towards the cleanup of dioxin contamination in Midland, along the Tittabawassee River, the Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay. Lieutenant Governor John Cherry, who has been overseeing the negotiations said, "The framework establishes a path for cleanup focused around our strong commitment to healthy people, healthy communities, and a healthy economy. It is the result of hard work and a will to reach agreement by both parties."
    Developed consistent with Dow's existing Hazardous Waste Operating License, the framework requires Dow to take immediate actions to reduce citizen exposure to dioxin. These actions, called "interim response activities", are MDEQ approved plans that focus first on areas where the risk of exposure to dioxin is the greatest in the city of Midland and along the Tittabawassee River (Priority 1 Areas). Specifically, activities will be focused on Corning Lane, a neighborhood north of the Dow facility; a neighborhood east of Corning Lane in Midland; and residential properties on the Tittabawassee River Floodplain where the home or the yard close to the home was inundated during the March 2004 flood. Dow may use a variety of measures to mitigate exposure to contaminants including, but not limited to, covering exposed soils and house cleaning. Exposure barriers will be put in place no later than December 31, 2005 and will be maintained until Dow initiates an MDEQ-approved final cleanup action plan. Work will begin on the areas flooded by the March 2004 flood along the Tittabawassee River not included in Priority 1 Areas, in January 2006 (Priority 2 Areas). Susan Carrington, Vice President and Director of the Michigan Dioxin Initiative for Dow Chemical said, "The framework enables us to take immediate actions while we continue to develop a responsible, science based, final resolution to the situation for residents, our communities, and the Mid-Michigan region."
    In addition to these steps, Dow will undertake further interim actions to address long term cleanup efforts. These actions include:

  • Providing funding, or the services of a contractor, to assist homeowners in removing mud and dirt from the interior of residential buildings and on paved areas when deposited by flood events.  Dow will also provide funding to local governmental agencies to assist with cleanup of sediments deposited on paved public access areas by flood events. 
  • Addressing exposure to dioxin at any residential property that is determined to have soil dioxin levels similar to the Priority 1 Areas.
  • Taking additional actions deemed necessary to protect public health and the environment, until a final remedial action plan is implemented.
Dow will have the opportunity to study the bioavailability of dioxin in soils and use that information to propose potential area-wide or site-specific cleanup criteria for this "off-site" dioxin contamination.  MDEQ will consider the results of such study and Dow's proposed criteria in accordance with State law. MDEQ and Dow will further define Dow's responsibilities for areas beyond the Dow plant site through future agreements.  MDEQ and Dow will engage the public in discussions on the various activities described in the framework as they are developed and implemented. Additional opportunities to provide outreach to the public on the status of immediate actions undertaken and future remedial action will be announced in the coming weeks. Dow, with participation from the DEQ, will schedule outreach sessions with numerous stakeholders, including families and property owners within the Priority 1 Areas described in the framework to explain the process and any potential impact on their properties.
    MDEQ Director Steven Chester said, "This framework ensures that the cleanup activities undertaken by Dow will be protective of human health and the environment. As we move forward, we welcome the public's participation in developing a comprehensive resolution of Dow's corrective action responsibilities."
    Access an MDEQ release (click here). Access the framework, along with a map showing Priority 1 and 2 Areas, on MDEQ's Dioxin Information website on Thursday, January 20, 2005 (click here)
. Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here). [*MIToxics, *MIHaz]

Dow Chemical's Latest Community Update - Nov 30, 2004: Dow Chemical Company has released its latest Community Update newsletter (Issue #5, November 2004). According to Dow, the newsletter is designed to provide the Midland area community with the latest information on the dioxin/furan situation. The issue includes updates on: Dow releases results of current worker study; Eliminating risk with models vs. real data; CDC study shows average blood levels are related to age; Dow helps with park renewal projects; Technology update: New data compares toxicity of dioxin-like compounds; and Regional exposure study underway. In an introductory note to the issue, Susan Carrington, Vice President and Director or the Michigan Dioxin Initiative indicates that, much of the issue is devoted mainly to recent science associated with dioxins and furans which Dow strongly believes in and supports. She says, "This analytical work is important because dioxins and furans are perhaps the most frequently studied compounds, yet the findings about their toxicity – especially in humans – are inconclusive. Despite the claims of some, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence does not support the fact that dioxin/furan exposure at low levels is cause for serious concern." Among other items, the newsletter reports on the progress of a U of M Dioxin Exposure Study to compare dioxins and furans for two populations: residents who live in Midland and the Tittabawassee River area, and people who live in a community with similar demographics but no known exposure to dioxins and furans. A website for that study has been established by U of M and is available below. Access the latest newsletter (click here).  Access the U of M Dioxin Exposure Study website (click here).  Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to additional resources (click here).



First NRC Dioxin Reassessment Meeting
- Nov 22: The National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council held its first Meeting of the Committee on "Review of EPA's Assessment of the Health Implications of Exposure to Dioxin" in Washington, DC. The meeting consisted of both an open and closed session. At the open session members reviewed the charge of the committee and a roadmap to the evaluation. At the closed session, as summarized by the committee and posted November 30, the provisional committee discussed the information presented at the open session, which included invited speaker presentations and public comments. The committee also conducted its composition, bias, and conflict of interest discussion; developed a draft report outline and; scheduled the next meetings which include a public session to be held February 1, 2005 (location to be determined). The following materials (written documents) were made available to the committee in the closed sessions: a Statement of Task and a Project Schedule. Access the overall committee website for background, listing of members, project scope and feedback opportunities (click here). Access the first meeting summary information (click here).

Dow Releases Dioxin Worker Exposure Study - Nov 10: Dow Chemical Company has released the results available from a pilot study that it conducted to measure Serum Dioxin Levels in Former Chlorophenol Workers. Dow said it undertook this study in September of 2003 to determine the accuracy of Dow estimates of past exposures to dioxins used in previous health studies of dioxin-exposed workers. Dow notes that the "study was not a health study; it only measured blood dioxin, furan and PCB levels." However, they say the results are important in helping Dow to better interpret past and future worker health studies. Dow also provided a link to 22 scientific papers it has published over the last 25 years of its workers who may have been potentially exposed to dioxins during their employment. Dow said the papers have shown "no convincing evidence of links between specific cancers and potential dioxin exposure in this worker population." In the currently released pilot study, Dow measured the blood dioxin, furans and PCB levels of 98 workers, 62 of whom worked in jobs or departments where high dioxin exposure could have occurred and a comparison group of 36 who did not work in such areas. The study shows workers in plants that produced chlorophenol have an average blood serum level of all dioxins (TEQ) of 68 parts per trillion (ppt). The comparison group of workers who did not work in a chlorophenol plant had an average of 33 ppt blood serum level of dioxin (TEQ). Dow says, "While the current blood dioxin levels of our chlorophenol workers are higher than levels present in the general population, we do not believe the blood dioxin levels measured in the chlorophenol workers in this study represent a health risk to these workers. This conclusion is based on extensive health studies of our workers and data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)... Given these new study findings, Dow is confident about conclusions that find no indication of any health effect related to dioxin exposure in chlorophenol workers, other than past chloracne in the most highly-exposed workers, related to dioxin exposure. Dow’s 17 peer-reviewed and published studies of these highly-exposed workers reassure us that this is a healthy group based on national and local data." Access the Dow release which summarizes the pilot study (click here). Access a link to the Dow scientific papers (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to further resources (click here).


 
EPA Dioxin Expert At Dow Community Advisory Panel Meeting - Nov 9: According to a report from the Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) organization, MDEQ has announced a Community Advisory Panel meeting that will be open to the general public on November 17, 2004 in Freeland. Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum, Director of the U.S. EPA's Experimental Toxicology Division in the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, will be the featured speaker. Her presentation will be on dioxins and their health effects. The meeting will be held at the Freeland High School Auditorium, at 8250 Webster Road, Freeland, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. The Community Advisory Panel was formed to  provide input to MDEQ on issues related to corrective action activities for Midland area soil contamination and Tittabawassee/Saginaw River sediment and floodplain soil contamination. Contact MDEQ Press Secretary Patricia Spitzley, for more information. Phone: 517-241-7397, Email: (click here). Access more information about Dr. Birnbaum and previous presentations from the TRW website (click here).

No News, No Deadlines On State/Dow Dioxin Negotiations - Nov 4: As Midland area residents and others eagerly awaited news of the State negotiations with Dow Chemical Company which were expected November 4, Lieutenant Governor John Cherry released a statement regarding the ongoing talks to address the dioxin contamination in the Midland, Saginaw, and Tittabawassee River region. Cherry said, “We continue to have productive talks with Dow, and have made progress toward an agreement, which is much more important than a deadline. We will continue to hold talks as long as progress is being made toward an outcome that all parties concur addresses the dioxin contamination. There will be no new deadline set as we move forward with our talks. We fully intend to keep the public informed of progress in these discussions, and any potential agreements reached through the discussions will be available for public review and comment before being finalized.” On September 15, Cherry said, "By setting an October 31st deadline, we are providing an endpoint to the discussion phase of this project and moving towards our goal of seeing actual results. My hope is that the deadline provides everyone involved with an incentive to aggressively work together to reach a consensus on the appropriate course for corrective action." The statement was not posted on the websites of the Governor, the Lt. Governor, MDEQ or the Michigan Newswire site for all State releases. Access the Cherry statement (click here). Access the latest media coverage (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to further resources (click here). 


 
State/Dow/Midland Dioxin Strategy Soon - Nov 3: Although the October 31, 2004 deadline has passed, various media reports indicate that the results of continuting negotiations on a comprehensive plan to address the dioxin issue in the Midland-Tittabawassee River floodplain area should be released soon -- maybe today. Meetings on the matter with Dow, MDEQ and local officials have been underway at the direction of the Governor, and with oversight by Lt. Governor John Cherry since June. On September 15, Lt. Governor John Cherry said, "By setting an October 31st deadline, we are providing an endpoint to the discussion phase of this project and moving towards our goal of seeing actual results. My hope is that the deadline provides everyone involved with an incentive to aggressively work together to reach a consensus on the appropriate course for corrective action." Access the latest media coverage (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to further resources (click here). 

Results From Dixon Human Exposure Study - Oct 17: According to an article published in the Midland Daily News, results of a Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) pilot exposure investigation are showing up in mailboxes of Tittabawassee River residents that were part of a Pilot Exposure Investigation (PEI) of dioxin levels in 25 people that currently living in the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River. The article reports that one resident's letter from MDCH tells her that her number is "elevated in a much greater percentile category than other people in (her) age group." The article reports that MDCH spokesman T.J. Bucholz said the agency is uncertain about when or if dioxin levels from the study will be released publicly. The article also quotes a Dow Chemical spokesman. Access the complete Midland Daily News article which reports results from some residents (click here, registration required). Access the MDCH website regarding the Exposure Study (click here). Access the Tittabawassee River Watch website for additional information (click here). Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information and links to further resources (click here). 


EPA Submits Latest Dioxin Reassessment For Academies' Review - Oct 15: U.S. EPA transmitted to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) the NAS Review Draft of EPA's Exposure and Human Health Reassessment of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-Dioxin (TCDD) and Related Compounds, in preparation for the first meeting of the NAS panel scheduled for November 22 and 23, 2004, in Washington, DC. The Chlorine Chemistry Council (CCC) issued a statement saying that it is pleased to note that the National Academies of Sciences' dioxin reassessment review panel has received the most recent version of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) draft dioxin reassessment. CCC said, "This represents the first step in the critical work before the panel. We were also pleased to submit comments on the provisional panel and propose additional candidates." The National Academies' Research Council has convened an expert committee that will review EPA's 2003 draft reassessment of the risks of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds to assess whether EPA's risk estimates are scientifically robust and whether there is a clear delineation of all substantial uncertainties and variability. The Academies website includes the complete charge, committee members, meeting details and a feedback button to provide comments on the project at any time over its duration. The Academies' review project officially began on June 25, 2004 and is expected to produce a pre-publication report within 15 months. Access EPA's latest NAS draft document (click here). Access an EPA overview site for the Dioxin Reassessment, NAS Review Draft which includes links and summary information (click here). Access the CCC statement (click here). Access the National Academies Review of EPA's Assessment of the Health Implications of Exposure to Dioxins website (click here).


MDEQ Approves Dow Midland Area Dioxin Communications Plan - Oct 13: MDEQ has approved a plan to help inform area residents of the risks of dioxin contamination in Midland and the Tittabawassee floodplain has been approved by the Department of Environmental Quality. The communications plan will be implemented by Dow Chemical Company to keep residents informed of actions the company is taking to address the dioxin contamination, and to help make citizens more aware of steps they can take to reduce their risk of potential exposure to the toxic substance. The Communications Interim Response Activity (IRA) Work Plan will provide general information on dioxins and furans to the public and inform them of steps they can take to reduce exposure. The plan further directs Dow to develop public relations materials, as well as establish and maintain information centers at various locations in Midland and the surrounding Tittabawassee floodplain area. Dow will also pay to have advisory signs placed at parks and other high-use public facilities along the river. Under Dow's operating license with the state, the Communications IRA is part of the corrective action it must take to address the dioxin contamination in the region. MDEQ Director Steve Chester said, "This plan will help the citizens of Midland and other regional communities stay informed about dioxins, and learn what they can do to reduce any potential exposure to themselves and their families. This is a positive step forward in efforts to address the issue, and keep the community healthy." The IRA takes immediate effect and includes a timetable for implementation of its various steps. Access an MDEQ release (click here). Access the "Communications" plan and cover letter (click here, scroll down).


 
Supreme Court To Hear Dow Medical Monitoring Case - Oct 1: A news release from the Michigan Supreme Court indicates that fifteen cases, including a lawsuit claiming that Midland-based Dow Chemical Company has contaminated the Tittabawassee River and nearby land with dioxin, will be heard by the Michigan Supreme Court next week in the first oral arguments of the Court’s 2004-2005 term. According to the release, "Among the cases the Court will hear is Henry v. Dow Chemical Company (Case No. 125205), in which Dow Chemical has been sued by land owners and residents of the Tittabawassee River’s flood plain. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has concluded that the river is contaminated with dioxin, a toxic chemical that has been linked to cancer, immune system damage and altered liver function. The plaintiffs in Henry claim that Dow is the source of the dioxin contamination, and they seek class action status for all affected property owners and residents. They also ask for Dow to pay the costs of medical monitoring for all members of the plaintiff class, although the plaintiffs do not claim that they currently suffer from physical injury or disease. Dow filed a motion for summary disposition, claiming that there is no cause of action in Michigan for such damages. The trial court denied the motion, interpreting the Supreme Court’s decision in Meyerhoff v. Turner Construction, 456 Mich 933 (1998), as allowing the plaintiffs to develop a record for their claim. Dow asserts that Meyerhoff in fact bars the plaintiffs from maintaining their cause of action. The Court of Appeals denied Dow’s application for leave to appeal. Dow appeals." Amicus curiae briefs have been filed from the Chamber of Commerce of the United States, American Tort Reform Association, National Association of Manufacturers, American Chemistry Council, Coalition for Litigation Justice, Inc., Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, Ecology Center, American Public Health Association, Endometriosis Association, American Lung Association of Michigan, Genesee County, Medical Society, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Science and Environmental Health, Network, Lone Tree Council, Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, Sierra Club, The Center for Civil Justice, Defense Research Institute, Michigan Defense Trial Counsel, Product Liability Advisory Council, Inc., and Michigan Manufacturers Association. Oral arguments in the case will be heard on Wednesday morning, October 6.
    A Washtenaw County case, against the Washtenaw County Road Commissions involves a plaintiffs claim to have been injured as a result of an object or dust thrown up by equipment operated by county road commission tractors during highway maintenance operations. Are these tractors “motor vehicles” and did these injuries arise as a result of their “operation” as motor vehicles? Another case involves a dispute regarding a railroad right-of-way that crossed defendant’s property that was purchased from the Soo Line Railroad by MDNR. Was the initial grant of the easement to the Soo Line Railroad an unconditional right-of-way with no use restriction? Was the easement terminated by non-use?
    Access an 11-page release from the Court summarizing each case that will be heard (click here). Access all of the briefs filed in the Dow case (click here).

 
Parties Set October 31 Date For Dioxin Strategy - Sep 15: Lt. Governor John D. Cherry and MDEQ Director Steven Chester met with Dow Chemical Company, the city of Midland, Senator Tony Stamas, and Representative John Moolenaar as part of the ongoing effort to develop a comprehensive plan to address the dioxin issue in that region of the state. During the meeting, a target date of October 31, 2004 was selected to finalize discussions on a strategy to address dioxin in Midland and along the Tittabawassee River floodplain, the Saginaw River, and the Saginaw Bay.  According to an MDEQ release, all sides agree that the discussions continue to be productive and are hopeful resolution can be reached by the targeted deadline. Lt. Governor Cherry said, "By setting an October 31st deadline, we are providing an endpoint to the discussion phase of this project and moving towards our goal of seeing actual results. My hope is that the deadline provides everyone involved with an incentive to aggressively work together to reach a consensus on the appropriate course for corrective action." Access the MDEQ release (click here).

Wild Game Eating Advisory In Midland Area - Sep 14: Four Michigan agencies announced their response and concerns regarding a recent Dow Chemical Company draft report on wild game. The study evaluated dioxin levels in wild game living in the Tittabawassee River floodplain, downstream from the community of Midland. The Michigan Departments of Agriculture, Community Health, Environmental Quality and Natural Resources said that samples of wild game taken from the floodplain show high levels of dioxin and dioxin like compounds in muscle meats, skin, and other consumable portions of animals. State of Michigan health assessors have reviewed the wild game data for the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland.  The results conclude that eating deer, turkey, or squirrel that contain dioxin at the levels found in the Dow wild game study could result in adverse health effects.  Levels of dioxins in the wild game harvested in the floodplain downstream of Midland for the study were up to 7 times higher than samples taken upstream of Midland in deer muscle meat, 118 times higher in deer liver, 66 times higher in turkey, and 40 times higher in squirrel. The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is advising that hunters and their families follow these recommendations: (1) Do not eat the liver from deer harvested in or near the floodplain downstream of Midland; (2) Limit consumption of muscle meat from deer harvested in or near the floodplain downstream of Midland.  Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should eat only one meal of deer muscle meat harvested in the floodplain per week.  Trimming any visible fat will lower the level of dioxins in the cooked meat.; (3) Do not eat turkey harvested in or near the floodplain downstream of Midland.    While MDCH advises that you not eat turkey taken from the floodplain, at a minimum the skin, liver, and gizzard should be removed and discarded; and (4) Limit consumption of squirrel harvested in or near the floodplain downstream of Midland.  Women of childbearing age and children under the age of 15 should eat only one meal of squirrel per week. Access a release and links to additional information including a map of the area covered by the advisory (click here). Access the MDEQ Tittabawassee River Flood Plain Contamination website for analysis of the wild game study and further information (click here).


Chlorine Chemistry Council On Dioxin Review - Sep 13: The Chlorine Chemistry Council (CCC) has issued a statement saying that it is pleased to note that the National Academies of Science has established a panel to review U.S. EPA's dioxin reassessment. CCC said, "We look forward to reviewing the list of nominees and commenting as appropriate. Even as industrial dioxin releases decline, this review is critical to harmonizing EPA's dioxin risk characterization with those of respected public health agencies worldwide. The charge questions that have been given to the panel appropriately target the fundamental public health policy issues that have led to the deep discrepancy between the EPA dioxin risk analysis and the conclusions of those agencies. While the knowledge of dioxin science grows daily, our member companies continue to support efforts to further reduce dioxin emissions and, at the same time, provide the building blocks of chlorine chemistry that help produce essential products that make our lives safer, healthier and more convenient." The Chlorine Chemistry Council is a business council of the American Chemistry Council. The National Academies' Research Council will convene an expert committee that will review EPA's 2003 draft reassessment of the risks of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds to assess whether EPA's risk estimates are scientifically robust and whether there is a clear delineation of all substantial uncertainties and variability. According to the Academies, a pre-publication version of the report will be delivered to the sponsoring agencies within 15 months of project initiation and an additional three months are allotted for publication and dissemination of the report. The Academies website includes the complete charge, committee members, meeting details and a feedback button to provide comments on the project at any time over its duration. Access the statement (click here). Access teh CCC dioxin facts website (click here). Access EPA's Dioxin Reassessment website (click here). Access the National Academies' Review of EPA's Assessment of the Health Implications of Exposure to Dioxins website (click here).



Amicus Brief Filed In Dow Dioxin Case
- Sep 1, 2004: Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) reports that an Amicus ("Friends of the Court") Brief was filed in the Michigan Supreme Court supporting the Dow lawsuit plaintiffs efforts to proceed with the medical monitoring aspects of the case. 
On June 4 the class action lawsuit against Dow Chemical Company -- Henry et al. v. Dow Chemical (Case No. 03-47775-NZ), State of Michigan, Circuit Court for the County of Saginaw, Judge Leopold P. Borrello; was delayed by an action of the Michigan Supreme Court while the High Court considers an appeal by Dow of last December concerning the Medical Monitoring aspect of the case. Plaintiffs in the case are requesting two forms of relief: (1) compensation for the value of their property; and (2) a trust to monitor their health. Dow claims that the medical monitoring claim is not valid in Michigan and appealed that concern to the High Court. The circuit court proceedings in the case are now halted while the Supreme Court considers the medical monitoring issue. The groups contributing to the Amicus Brief are: The Ecology Center, American Public Health Association, Endometriosis Association, American Lung Association of Michigan, Genesee County Medical Society, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Science and Environmental Health Network, Lone Tree Council, Public Interest Research Group in Michigan, Sierra Club, and The Center for Civil Justice. Access the 26-page brief (click here). Access extensive information on the Dow class action lawsuit, including a chronological list of Court activities, from the TRW website (click here).
 
Shareholders Ask SEC To Investigate Dow Statements - Aug 10: Trillium Asset Management Corporation and Boston Common Asset Management Chemical have formally asked the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate what they say are misleading statements by Dow Chemical executives concerning the company’s potential environmental and personal injury liabilities. In a letter sent August 9, 2004 to the SEC, Attorney Sanford Lewis, representing the shareholders, requests scrutiny of “a number of inadequacies and irregularities in disclosures and public statements”  that are “highly relevant to the financial interests of investors.” According to a release, transgressions cited in the letter filed to the SEC include misleading statements made to shareholders by Dow’s CEO regarding the 1984 Bhopal explosion, dioxin contamination in Midland, Michigan, and key omissions in company SEC filings regarding potential liabilities related to the company’s manufacture of the chemical defoliant Agent Orange. Access a lengthy release with links to additional information and the complete letter to SEC (click here).

EPA Review Raises Midland Area Dioxin Concerns - Aug 10: A U.S. EPA Region 5 review of Tittabawassee River fish data from MDEQ has raised a number of concerns and recommendations. The review is in the form of a 7-page memo from John Milton Clark, the Health and Science Advisor for the Superfund Division, dated July 21, 2004. Clark says there are "unacceptable human health risk from dioxin in fish" and "unacceptable risks to wildlife." Three of the eight major conclusions and recommendations by Clark [not in order] are: "(1) Unacceptable, elevated (cancer risks as high as one in a 1,000) to public health exist to the frequent consumer (1/2 pound meal per week or greater) of Tittabawassee River fish. Although US Epa was heavily involved in addressing dioxin problems from the Dow Chemical facility in the 1980s, it is clear that significant risks to public health still remain. More extensive outreach is needed to warn consumers of risks associated with the consumption of fish from the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay. (4) Given substantial risks to public health and wildlife, strong consideration should be given to remediation (e.g. removal) of dioxin contaminated sediments and flood plain soils most proximal to the rivers. Such actions would be consistent with those underway or planned for the Fox and Kalamazoo rivers. (8) US EPA, working closing with Michigan Departments of Environmental Quality and community Health, needs to become engaged in the dioxin contamination problem and to re-enforce existing risks to public health and wildlife. There is particular concern regarding distortions of risk information (including findings by US EPA) which are causing inaccurate risk messages to the public." WIMS has been attempting to obtain the complete memo for posting on the EcoBizPort Midland Area Dioxin Issue Special Report website; however, we have not yet received it. It will be posted when we receive it. A page-by-page, scanned version of the document is available on the Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) website. Access the EcoBizPort Midland Area Dioxin Issue Special Report (click here). Access the TRW website (click here, scroll down to 8/10 EPA stepping in?). Access an article from the Midland Daily News on the EPA review also posted on the TRW website (click here).



Dow Releases Wild Game Study Results
- Jul 9: Dow Chemical Company has released a study which it funded, of wild game living in the floodplain along the Tittabawassee River that the Company says shows that dioxin levels found in the animals studied were comparable with what is found in meats, poultry and fish in the national food supply and are generally below the State of Michigan fish consumption advisory level. According to Dow, as expected with elevated levels of dioxin along the river south of Midland, ground-feeding animals had higher concentrations of dioxins and furans than similar animals tested living north  of Midland. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, common sources of protein in the U.S., such as beef, pork, poultry and fish, have levels of dioxins (measured as TEQs - toxic equivalents) ranging from 0.04 - 2 parts-per-trillion (ppt). The State of Michigan fish consumption advisory level is 10 ppt.  Average dioxin levels found in meat from deer, squirrels and turkeys taken south of Midland from the Tittabawassee River area ranged from 0.35 - 6.5 ppt. Susan Carrington, Director of Dow's Dioxin Initiative said, "These results are important because they provide actual knowledge about dioxin and furan levels and possible exposure. Together with the human exposure study being conducted by the University of Michigan and the bioavailability study, we will now have real data on which to base decisions, not theories or assumptions." Higher dioxin levels were found in the livers of deer taken south of Midland, which averaged 37 ppt, and in turkey meat with the skin left on, which averaged 10 ppt. Dow said the higher concentrations in deer livers are explained by the fact that deer graze and ingest soil, and the liver functions as a filter to remove such materials as dioxins. Access a release (click here). Access a summary of Work Scopes and Plans (click here). Access the 14-page study results (click here).

MDEQ Letter To Tittabawassee Floodplain Residents - Jun 21: MDEQ has posted a May 14, 2004, letter that was sent to some residents of the Tittabawassee River floodplain that had commented on the dioxin contamination issues. The letter explains matters relating to the extent to which floodplain properties are considered part of the Dow "facility" as defined in Part 201. MDEQ indicates, "We can certainly understand the frustration and anger that innocent property owners feel as a result of their quality of life and property values being negatively impacted by third parties, probably decades ago, over which they had no control. First of all, let us clarify that there is no facility designation process under Part 201. Property either meets the definition of a facility or it does not." A Supplemental Advisory prepared by MDEQ last year to clear up misinformation, realtor inquiries and complaints from recent purchasers, indicates that based upon the information available it is reasonable to conclude that property that is frequently flooded within the floodplain is a facility and points out the statutory obligation to disclose information to potential purchasers. It is true that every property within the floodplain has not been proven to be a facility. The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has made no such claim. However, given the information available, it is prudent for floodplain property owners to realize that their property is likely to be affected and disclose the known information to potential purchasers. The letter also explains that "disclosure requirements" of Part 201 parallel disclosure requirements in Michigan’s Seller Disclosure Act of 1993 and consequently would exists even without the provisions of Part 201. In conclusion, MDEQ says, "We certainly recognize there are competing legitimate positions entwined in this issue: on the one hand, potential negative impact on property values by the disclosure of information, and on the other the potential that a purchaser might unknowingly purchase property with an environmental problem. Given such competing interests, we believe the public interest is best served by providing full disclosure that allows for informed decision making." Access the complete letter (click here). Access the Supplemental Advisory (click here) and a related Soil Movement Advisory (click here). Access the Tittabawassee River Flood Plain Contamination website for additional information (click here).


Floodplain Residents Meet With Governor, Et Al On Dioxin - Jun 21: According to a release, in a meeting on June 21 with Governor Jennifer Granholm, Lieutenant Governor John Cherry and Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Chester, residents of the dioxin-contaminated floodplain in mid-Michigan urged the Governor to "protect public health and in particular, the region's children, from dioxin contamination." Residents said they were concerned about the "recent attempts by Dow Chemical and several Midland area legislators with ties to the chemical giant to delay and in some cases prevent cleanup of their neighborhoods and homes." Residents relayed health concerns and called recent legislative attempts to weaken the State's dioxin cleanup standard "an outrage, and urged the Governor to be guided by the mountain of scientific evidence that details dioxin's hazards.  Michigan's standard is similar to other states that have dioxin cleanup standards.  They are based on well-established scientific methods to protect public health." Residents also objected to the plan to use taxpayer dollars that are meant for cleanup to fund a study that Dow is already conducting on dioxin. Michelle Hurd Riddick said, "Dioxin has been studied for more than ten years by dozens of scientists writing hundreds of papers. This is yet another delay tactic to confuse people and make them think that there are major questions about dioxin's toxicity." Access a posted release (click here).


Dow & MDEQ Process For Addressing Dioxin Issue In Midland Area - Jun 18: At approximately 4:30 PM on Friday, June 18, 2004 the Governor's Office issue a release indicating that starting next week [June 21, 2004], representatives of MDEQ and Dow Chemical will begin discussing a process for addressing the dioxin issue in Midland and the Tittabawasee flood plain. The release indicated that the meetings were "the direct result of a meeting held yesterday [June 18] at the request of Governor Jennifer Granholm and chaired by Lt. Governor John D. Cherry, Jr. MDEQ Director Steve Chester said, "Our goal is to build a foundation for cooperation. While no potential solutions were discussed, we agreed on a process that will ensure a solution that protects public health, the environment, and the interests of the stakeholders involved." MDEQ and Dow agreed to report back with their progress within a month to the Lt. Governor and others attending yesterday’s meeting. Those attending the meeting in addition to the Lt. Governor and Director Chester, included: State Representative John Moolenaar; State Senator Tony Stamas; and Midland City Manager Karl Tomion. Representing Dow Chemical were Arnold Allemang, Executive Vice-president, and Larry Washington, Vice-president, Corporate Environment, Health and Safety. The release indicated that the Thursday, June 18, meeting "was the direct result of Governor Granholm’s meeting with area lawmakers on Mackinac Island earlier this month." At that gathering, the Governor made a commitment to put a process in place to appropriately resolve the dioxin situation. Presumably the process will involve some method to resolve the fundamental difference between Dow and MDEQ as to what constitutes an appropriate dioxin cleanup standard. Access the Governor's Office release (click here). Access Dow's June Community Update newsletter for an extensive discussion of the 90 ppt v. 1000 ppt "action level" cleanup standards (click here). Access the latest media coverage (click here).


 
Dioxin Cleanup Standards - Jun 6: The citizens group Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) has posted the dioxin clean up standards from other states and regions around the country based on information supplied by the Ecology Center. The Michigan standard of 90 ppt has been highly criticized as being too stringent by many Midland area officials and residents. Legislation has been introduced in the Michigan House and Senate to raise the standard to 1,000 ppt. According to the information the cleanup standards are as follows: Region III EPA (Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia), 4.3 ppt TCDD; Region IX EPA (Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii), 3.9 ppt; Oregon, 3.9 ppt; Massachusetts, 4.0 ppt; North Carolina, 4.1 ppt; Georgia, 4.8 ppt; Washington, 8.7 ppt; Florida, 7.0 ppt; Iowa, 14 ppt; Arizona, 38 ppt; Pennsylvania, 120 ppt; and Minnesota, 200 ppt. TRW also reports that the 1,000 ppt level was developed by the Agency for Toxic Substances Disease Registery (ATSDR) and was not derived as a "safe" level. In 1984 it was thought to be a level that could be associated with health effects. TRW indicates that "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." MDEQ Director Steven Chester recently told Midland residents that the 1,000 ppt level was being reevaluated under EPA's ongoing Dioxin Reassessment and will likely be lowered when the assessment is completed. Access the TRW website for a discussion on the dioxin standard (click here, scroll down to "6/6/04" posting). Access the EPA Dioxin Reassessment website (click here).

 
Outraged River Residents Want Dioxin Equal Time - Jun 7: Saying they were "outraged" and demanding "equal time," residents living in the Tittabawassee River area downstream of Midland, have called on the Governor to meet with them in response to recent attempts by some State representatives to weaken the state's dioxin standard. This past weekend, Republican representatives from the Midland area met with Governor Granholm to press their case to weaken state cleanup standards for dioxin from 90 ppt to 1,000 ppt. River residents, represented by the Tittabawassee River Watch and the Lone Tree Council, and residents from area Townships and the City of Midland sent a letter to the Governor asking for equal time to discuss the need for the State to uphold its cleanup standards in the face of what they say is "pressure from Dow Chemical and some legislators to put citizens at risk." The groups highlighted what they called an "overwhelming number of scientific studies that demonstrate that dioxin is a serious health hazard.  They also highlighted the "misuse of science by Dow Chemical and elected representatives who receive major campaign contributions from Dow."  At issue is a state cleanup standard that is set in order to prevent health impacts.  On June 3, the Michigan House of Representatives Appropriations Committee approved a budget for MDEQ that eliminates the Hazardous Waste Management Program, reduces staffing levels by 8%, and general fund support for the department by 15%. Access a posted release (click here). Access the latest media coverage of the budget issues which should be reported soon (click here).  Access the WIMS-EcoBizPort Special Report on Midland Area Dioxin Issues for further background information (click here).

Former DEQ Director Comments On Midland Dioxin - Jun 6: In a commentary published in the Midland Daily News, Sunday, June 6, 2004, former MDEQ Director Russell Harding comments on the current situation in Midland relating to dioxin remediation efforts. According to Harding, "The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) is threatening to declare a sizable portion of the city of Midland as a contaminated site requiring major cleanup action. But absent scientific evidence that pollution levels pose a health risk, such a dramatic step is unwarranted. Moreover, unnecessarily disturbing contaminated soils could actually worsen environmental conditions. At issue are levels of dioxin on nearly 9,000 residential properties in Midland, affecting half the city’s population. . . The mere existence of dioxin in soil does not determine human exposure or health risk. Because dioxin binds tightly to soil, it enters the human bloodstream 95 percent of the time only through ingestion. . . Officials of the MDEQ nonetheless are considering whether to order Dow Chemical Co. to undertake major remediation measures as a condition of the company’s operating permit. But no rational decision can possibly be made until a study of actual exposure levels is undertaken. Otherwise, regulators would simply be guessing whether a public health risk even exists. . . Overly aggressive cleanup requirements in themselves pose a risk. To insist that dioxin-laced soil be removed, rather than capped or confined, could actually increase airborne contamination. Too, the stigma attached to unnecessarily declaring Midland a contaminated community would produce incalculable economic hardship." Harding is now the senior environmental policy analyst with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Midland-based nonprofit research and educational institute. Access the complete commentary posted on the Mackinac Center website (click here).



Dow Class Action Suit Halted Temporarily
- Jun 4, 2004: The class action lawsuit against Dow Chemical Company -- Henry et al. v. Dow Chemical (Case No. 03-47775-NZ), State of Michigan, Circuit Court for the County of Saginaw, Judge Leopold P. Borrello; has been delayed by a June 4, action of the Michigan Supreme Court while the High Court considers an appeal by Dow of last December concerning the Medical Monitoring aspect of the case. The delay comes just prior to an expected decision by Judge Borrello on the class certification. Plaintiffs in the case are requesting two forms of relief (1) compensation the value of their property; and (2) a trust to monitor their health. Dow claims that the medical monitoring claim is not valid in Michigan and appealed that concern to the High Court. Other circuit court proceedings in the case were ordered halted while the Supreme Court considers the medical monitoring issue. A
ccess extensive information on the Dow class action lawsuit, including a chronological list of Court activities, from the Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) website (click here). Access an article describing recent events in the Midland Daily News (click here, free registration required).

Legislative Anger With MDEQ Flares - Jun 3: According to reports from Lansing, the deep anger held by many Republican State legislators with the MDEQ, has once again flared up. The latest flash point relates to recent MDEQ activities regarding dioxin contamination and remediation efforts in Midland, previously reported here. As a result of legislative disagreement with the MDEQ Midland-area remediation plans, the House Appropriations Committee has approved a budget for MDEQ that eliminates the Hazardous Waste Management Program, reduces staffing levels by 8%, and general fund support for the department by 15%. The action came just prior to a scheduled Saturday, June 5 meeting arranged by U.S. Representative David Camp to meet with the Governor on issues related to the Midland remediation effort. Most Midland officials and many residents oppose the current MDEQ cleanup standard for dioxin in soils. The Midland City Council has recently adopted a resolution supporting proposed legislation introduced in the House and Senate to raise the allowable level of dioxin in soil from the MDEQ standard of 90 ppt to the current EPA standard of 1,000 ppt. Access a brief recap of the latest activities submitted by Michigan Environmental Council and the Lone Tree Council (click here). Access the latest media coverage of the budget issues which should be reported soon (click here). Access media coverage of the Midland dioxin issue and the meeting with the Governor (click here).


1,600+ Attend Midland Dioxin Meeting - May 27: According to media reports, approximately 1,600 to 1,700 people attended the community meeting on dioxin contamination at the Midland Center for the Arts. Representatives from Dow Chemical Company, MDEQ, U.S. EPA and Michigan Department of Community Health. Much of the discussion focused on the differences between the Michigan cleanup standard of 90 ppt versus the U.S. EPA standard of 1,000 ppt; and whether a compromise or alterned number in the range of 200-300 ppt might be possible. Media reports indicate that no real answers were reached about the extent of remediation that would be undertaken, which is directly related to the cleanup standard to be applied. There was strong support for Dow at the meeting and many residents fear the community will gain a reputation like Times Beach, MO., or Niagara, NY. if widespread remediation is required. MDEQ Director Steve Chester explained that while the EPA standard is currently 1,000 ppt; it may be reduced considerably (even lower than the State standard) once the on-going dioxin reassessment is completed in perhaps a couple of years. Dow indicated that while it believes the State standard is too low and not scientifically-based; that it would abide by the State requirements. A cleanup plan for the Tittabawassee River floodplain and Midland is expected to be finalized by MDEQ by mid-June. Access an article from the Midland Daily News reporting on the meeting, including sample questions and answers given (click here, registration required). Access the latest media coverage (click here). Access the City of Midland dioxin contamination website for complete details (click here). Access the MDEQ Tittabawassee River Flood Plain Contamination website for further information (click here). Access the Dow Chemical Dioxin Reduction website (click here). Access the Dow Michigan Division Dioxin website (click here).



Midland Residents Struggle With Dioxin Issue - May 26: As previously reported, the citizens of Midland will soon be involved in a study of dioxin soil contamination in the community that will raise many issues about what these studies mean to personal health and property. To inform Midland residents about this issue and to prepare them for what the testing may mean to them, the City of Midland is sponsoring a Community Meeting on Dioxin in Midland tonight, Wednesday, May 26, at 7 PM, at the Midland Center for the Arts auditorium. A new group called "Midland Matters -- Mobilize Midland!" suggests that the dioxin contamination is being exaggerated and will result in a massive remediation effort that is not necessary and is based on unrealistic cleanup standards. The group emphasizes that the MDEQ action level is 90 ppt, while the U.S. EPA action level is 1,000 ppt. Access the City of Midland dioxin contamination website for complete details (click here). Access a Midland Daily News article describing the latest controversy (click here, registration required). Access the latest media coverage (click here).
 
Former Dow Employee Launches "DioxinSpin" Website - Apr 6: Former Dow employee and chemical engineer David Linhardt has launched the "DioxinSpin" website. According to Linhardt, the DioxinSpin website has been established "to gather and share information about the many issues associated with dioxin contamination in Midland, MI and in the adjacent Tittabawassee River.  Hopefully, some of the information that will be available on this website will of value to other communities facing similar issues." Linhardt defines "DioxinSpin" as "the art or practice of attempting to manipulate the way that the various aspects of dioxin contamination and the health risks resulting from dioxin exposure are interpreted by others." Linhardt is a chemical engineer that graduated from Purdue University in 1965.  From 1965 to 1993, he worked for The Dow Chemical Company in a wide variety of technical and management positions.  He has worked in both U.S. and in foreign locations. From 1979 to 1983, David was an Environmental Specialist at Dow's chemical manufacturing complex in Midland, MI.  During this time, he prepared the initial Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) operating permit applications for the site"s hazardous waste management facilities. The site contains a wealth of information. On current issues, Linhardt identifies several deficiencies with the February 17, 2004, Dow-submitted revised Scope of Work which is currently under review by MDEQ. Also posted on the site is a March 31, 2004, letter from Linhardt to Vince Castellanos, a member of the MDEQ-established Community Advisory Panel, on the impact of soil-related dioxins on daily dioxin intake, dioxin body burdens and resulting health risks. In 2003, Linhardt formed a consulting company that provides global chemical companies with assessments of competitors' manufacturing technologies and estimates of manufacturing costs and profitability.  He is currently President of ChemTelligence, Inc. From 1980 to 1994, he and his family lived in Midland, MI.  He currently resides in Raleigh, NC. Access the website for complete information (click here).

Midland Area Dioxin Issues Bulletin - Mar 10: MDEQ has posted Informational Bulletin #4 (March 2004), the fourth in a series of bulletins designed to keep area residents informed on progress and future plans regarding the Tittabawassee/Saginaw River Flood Plain and Midland Soils Environmental Assessment Initiative/Corrective Action Programs. Prior bulletins have included information on several MDEQ initiatives: Phase I, II flood plain sampling efforts/reports; public health advisories; ecological risk assessments; the Dow hazardous waste facility operating license; and the Community Advisory Panel (CAP). Since the last bulletin in June 2003, MDEQ has developed or continues to implement the following activities: Dioxin Exposure Issues; Dow Hazardous Waste Facility Operating License; Community Advisory Panel (CAP); Soil/Sediment Sampling; and Ecological Risk Assessment. Each of the issues is discussed in some detail in the bulletin. Access Bulletin #4 (click here). Access the Tittabawassee River Flood Plain Contamination website for back issues of the Bulletin and extensive additional information (click here).


MDCH Announces PEI Investigation - Jan 8: The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) has officially announced that it will conduct an investigation of dioxin levels in people that are currently living on the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River (previously reported, WD:1/7/04, WD:12/08/03). Twenty five adults who have lived on dioxin contaminated property in the flood plain for at least five years will be asked to participate in a Pilot Exposure Investigation (PEI). The purpose of the investigation is to provide information on the levels of dioxins in soil, indoor dust, and blood samples for 25 residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain. The pilot investigation will also provide information about how to conduct a future exposure investigation that could include several hundred people from the city of Midland, the Tittabawassee River flood plain, and a comparison community. The MDCH expects to provide an investigation report by the end of 2004. The protocol for the Pilot Exposure Investigation is available on the MDCH webpage or by calling the MDCH toll free at 1-800-648-6942. Questions about the MDCH Pilot Exposure Investigation may be directed to Dr. Linda Dykema, Toxicology and Response Section at the same number. Access a release with links to the Pilot Exposure Investigation Fact Sheet, Titabawassee River Pilot Exposure Investigation Protocol and five attachments (click here).


New Tittabawassee River Assessment - Oct 8, 2003: MDEQ has recently released the Tittabawassee River Aquatic Ecological Risk Assessment – Results, which was prepared by Hector. Galbraith, of Galbraith Environmental Sciences of Newfane, Vermont. The information was presented to the October 8, 2003 MDEQ Community Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting. The Community Advisory Panel was formed to  provide input to the MDEQ on issues related to corrective action activities for Midland area soil contamination and Tittabawassee/Saginaw River sediment and floodplain soil contamination. According to a brief summary of the Assessment posted on the CAP/TRW website: "(1) Furans and dioxins in sediments of Tittabawassee River pose risks to reproduction and early life stages of piscivorous (fish eating) birds and mammals; (2) Risks to wildlife pervasively distributed throughout the 22 miles of the Tittabawassee River below Midland; (3) Furans and dioxins in sediments of Saginaw River and Bay pose risks to reproduction and early life stages of piscivorous (fish eating) birds and mammals; (4) Experimental (mink feeding) and observational data (fish and bird egg contaminant data) confirm that dioxins and furans are bioaccumlated and pose risks to wildlife; (5) According to MDEQ's Allan Brouillet 'We found them (toxins) in tissue from fish we collected, and from eggs from the water fowl that are nesting in the area.  It's not a theoretical issue, it's a real issue.  It's traveling through the food Chain.''

    Dow Chemical Company responded to the information saying that the MDEQ preliminary study of dioxin in the Tittabawassee River "supports the need for a comprehensive study of the river to determine the full extent of dioxin levels." Susan Carrington of Dow said, "It’s critical to successful decision-making about the future of the river that we know exactly what we are dealing with. This preliminary risk assessment supports what we have proposed to MDEQ – a comprehensive study of the river and its floodplain." Dow is funding a comprehensive ecological study of the Tittabawassee by Michigan State University, and initial research work has already begun.
    Access a 58-slid powerpoint presentation of the Assessment (click here). Access the CAP website for extensive information (click here) and the releated Tittabawassee River Watch website (click here). Access a Dow Chemical Company release (click here). Access the Dow Chemical Midland Dioxin Situation website (click here). Access the MDEQ Dioxin information website (click here). Access the MDEQ Tittabawassee River Flood Plain Contamination website which also contains a link to the powerpoint presentation (click here). Access the latest media coverage (click here).

Dow Class Action Lawsuit - Mar. 25: Attorney Jan Helder of Stueve Helder Siegel LLP has filed an environmental class action lawsuit against Dow Chemical Company in Saginaw County, MI (Case No. 03-47775-NZ). The lawsuit alleges that Dow is responsible for highly toxic levels of dioxin in the Tittabawassee River and flood plain in Saginaw County. The named-plaintiffs are 25 residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain in Saginaw County. By virtue of the class action, these residents are bringing the case on behalf of the nearly 2000 property-owners and residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain. In addition to the lost value of their real estate, they seek to require Dow to fund a medical monitoring trust fund for the benefit of all who have resided along the Tittabawassee over the past two decades. The firms representing the citizens in the action are from Kansas City, MO with local representation from the firm of Trogan & Trogan, PC of Saginaw. Access a release from Stueve Helder Siegel (click here). Access the 31-page complaint (click here, pdf). Access the Dow Chemical response (click here). Access a Class Action contact form for the case (click here). Access the TRW website for a chronological listing of lawsuit activity (click here).



Dow Corporate Accountability Shareholder Resolution
- May 6: According to an announcement from Proxyinformation.com, Dow Chemical Company shareholders are being asked to vote on May 8 on a resolution seeking a report to provide greater transparency and accountability on potential future liabilities related to dioxin and persistent toxics. Proxyinformation.com says it was created "to provide a source of reliable, factual information to shareholders considering the merits of corporate accountability shareholder resolutions on their company proxy statements." The announcement indicates that, "Significant new liabilities could be represented by new class action by Michigan residents alleging dioxin contamination, and lawsuits by Plaquemine, LA residents alleging water contamination with vinyl chloride. This action closely follows Dow’s announcement in December that identified long-term estimates of the costs of asbestos liabilities at recently acquired Union Carbide at $2.2 billion." Access the announcement an link to further information (click here). The resolution is sponsored by Trillium Asset Management, an investment firm based in Boston. Access the Trillium Asset website (click here).


Activists Hold Dow Chemical Conference
- Mar. 21 Activists that say they are working to hold Dow Chemical accountable for its effects on the environment and public health will converge with students and concerned community members for a conference on corporate accountability at the University of Michigan on April 5, 2003. According to an announcement conference attendees will learn about how corporations impact our health and the environment. Five student organizations at the University of Michigan and four environmental groups, including the Ecology Center, are co-sponsoring the conference. The conference is free and open to the public. Pre-registration is encouraged and can be done online. Access a release (click here) Access an agenda, speaker information and on-line registration form (click here).

MDEQ Notice & Memo On Dow Comment
- Feb. 5: MDEQ has posted its notice of the decision to allow an additional 30 days for public comment regarding its intent to issue an operating license to The Dow Chemical Company (Dow), pursuant to Part 111, NREPA and the Federal RCRA.  The notice, which was effective January 27, 2003 (See WD-Jan. 27), extends the comment period to February 26. Also included is a February 4 memo from the Waste and Hazardous Materials Division explaining the action and providing background information. Access the document (click here).


Comment On Dow Operating Permit Extended
- Jan. 27: Effective today, MDEQ has extended the public comment period regarding its intent to issue an operating license to the Dow Chemical Company under NREPA Part 111 and RCRA. The original notice, published on October 7, 2002 had a public comment period that ended on December 7, 2002, and extended until December 9. MDEQ has now decided not to enter into the corrective action consent order that was notice on December 7. The extended comment period will now end on February 26, 2003. The draft license will allow continued operation of the company's TSD facility at 1000 East Main St in Midland. A separate comment period for a major modification of the operating license for the Salzburg Road Lanndfill, also originally noticed on October 7, 2002, is not being extended. For information, Email Cheryl Howe (click here). Also see MDEQ's Dow Part 111 website for extensive information (click here).

MDCH Memo Shakes Dow CO Credibility - (12/10/02) A November 21, 2002, internal memorandum from the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) uncovered by environmental groups through a FOIA requests, casts serious questions on the technical and legal foundation of the highly contested proposed Consent Order (CO) between Dow Chemical Company and MDEQ.  The memo written and reviewed by high-level MDCH Ph.D. toxicologists indicates very basic flaws in technical terminology saying the term "isomer" is mistakenly used for "congener"; and that a term "TEC" for toxic equivalent concentrations is not a term "generally used in scientific literature" and should more appropriately be "TEQ" or toxic equivalents which is "the generally accepted term". On a more substantive, legal and technical basis, the memo indicates that the "interim action level" terminology that is central to the CO is not defined or provided for in Part 201. Also the procedure to establish a Scientific Review Committee to determine revised interim action levels is "essentially abdicating [MDEQ] authority under Part 201 to an outside entity." In very harsh criticism, the memo says that a section stating that the interim action level shall be deemed "the best available scientific information" is "untenable given that many of the input values used to established the 'interim action level' were decided by the upper management of the MDEQ and are in direct conflict with the majority of scientists who are knowledgeable in human health risk assessments in general and dioxin toxicity specifically. In particular, the reliance upon an outdated cancer slope factor and noncancer reference dose is troublesome..." The memo continues raising many other technical and legal flaws and concludes saying that the comment period should be extended to allow for adequate staff and public review. Access the complete 6-page memo and other related Dow CO documents and links (click here).



Judge Rejects Dow TRO But Schedules Hearing - (12/9/02) Ingham County Circuit Court Judge William Collette has rejected the request of several enviornmental organizations to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) that would have stopped MDEQ from entering into a Consent Order with Dow Chemical Company. However, the Judge did order a full hearing in early January to review the issues and said the order will preserve the right of the coalition to challenge the Consent Order, even if it  is finalized by MDEQ in the intervening month. According to the groups the Judge said even if the proposed Consent Order is finalized by the outgoing Engler Administration it can be overturned if it is found to be illegal, as the Attorney General and environmentalists contend. Access a release from the groups (click here). Access the various legal documents (click here).

U.S. EPA Objects To Dow Consent Order - (12/6) In a letter and comments submitted by U.S. EPA Region 5 the Agency said it objects to the Corrective Action Consent Order (CACO or the Order) between MDEQ and the Dow Chemical Company in part because the Order has not been reviewed, has not been approved, and will not be executed by the State Attorney General; the language of the Order does not conform with the recommended language, terms and conditions found in the State of Michigan’s July 7, 2002 document titled Corrective Action Consent Order Boilerplate; and the Order does not require the performance of corrective action pursuant to an authorized permit as required under RCRA.  In total, EPA list 41 General Objections; 24 Technical Comments; and 32 Specific Comments on the Attachments. U.S. EPA also submitted extensive comments on the MDEQ Draft Hazardous Waste Management Facility Operating License for the Dow Chemical Company.  Access the cover letter, and 31-page CACO comment document, and the 35-page License comment document on the EcoBizPort website on the Dow Dioxin Issue (click here, scroll down). Links to other related documents from MDEQ, Dow and environmental groups are also included.


Proposed Dow Consent Order Spurs National News Coverage - (12/6) As Michigan environmental groups attempt to block a proposed consent order between Dow Chemical Company and MDEQ in Circuit Court (9:00 AM, 12/6), a copyrighted article by Eric Pianin, Washington Post Staff Writer appears in the Friday, December 6, 2002 edition of the paper (Page A02).  The article indicates that, "In one of his final acts as Michigan governor, John Engler (R) is trying to ease state standards for toxic dioxin pollution, a move that could relieve Dow Chemical Co. of substantial liability for future cleanup operations at the company's headquarters and along a large watershed leading into Lake Huron." The article also quotes Neil Hawkins, Dow's Michigan environment, health and safety leader, that the standards "more realistically reflect actual exposure conditions." Access the complete article (click here).



Enviros Sue To Stop MDEQ/Dow Order
- (12/5) Saying it was the only way they could "protect the public interest" six environmental groups have filed suit in Ingham County Circuit Court seeking an injunction to stop a Consent Order between MDEQ and the Dow Chemical Company. Earlier (12/2/02) the groups had requested, but MDEQ refused to extened the 30-day public comment period which end December 9. The groups attorney Chris Bzdok of Olson and Bzdok said, "DEQ's proposed action is clearly unlawful. The agency has failed to follow law and rules in drafting an order that seems designed primarily to serve the interests of Dow Chemical Company, not the public health." In a release, Bzdok pointed out that "an assistant attorney general earlier this fall critiqued a draft of the consent order as "illegal" and called for it to be scrapped. Instead, top DEQ officials have cut the Department of Attorney General out of discussions on the order, spending $10,000 in taxpayer money to hire their own outside counsel." Groups filing the suit were: Lone Tree Council, Tittabawassee River Watch, Ecology Center, Clean Water Action, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination,  and PIRGIM.  Access the complete release and link to the complaint (click here). Further information is available from the Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) website (click here).

Groups Seek Intervention In Dow Order - (12/2) Residents and environmentalists have filed a Petition To Intervene with MDEQ, under the provisions of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act, seeking to intervene in the proposed Dow Chemical Company consent order, and have requested a delay in the decision until the MDEQ weighs evidence opposing a change in the standard. In the petition, the groups argued that the consent order's proposed interim dioxin standard was developed using "unapproved methods resulting in a standard almost ten times higher than the current statewide standard." In a separate letter the groups have requested an extension to the public comment period and a re-opening of the public hearing on the Consent Order. Petitioners are represented by the Traverse City firm Olson and Bzdok. Access a release with links to the Petition, Letter and extensive background information (click here). Further information is available from the Tittabawassee River Watch (TRW) website (click here).


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