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Risky Business in Michigan.

  • Subject: [cg] Risky Business in Michigan.
  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2004 14:58:40 EST


Just in case you were planning to start a community garden in  Saginaw Township, Michigan.....

Happy weekend,
Adam Honigman

Dow submits detailed dioxin cleanup report

Friday, February 20, 2004


State regulators are dissecting Dow Chemical Co.'s plans for dealing with dioxin along the Tittabawassee River.

The company submitted a 100-plus-page document this week that details plans for cleaning up an industrial toxin that has left the Tittabawassee floodplain awash in litigation and uncertainty about potential health effects.

The state Department of Environmental Quality likely will approve the plan in mid-April.

Dow spokeswoman Sarah R. Opperman said she is confident that regulators will find the plan acceptable.

"We believe we have addressed and incorporated the suggestions and discussions we have had with the DEQ," she said. "We look forward to meeting with them and getting any additional comments so we can move forward. We've got to get things going."

State officials were unavailable for comment.

The cleanup plan -- known to regulators as a "scope of work" document -- charts a several-year course toward cleaning up dioxin downstream of the Midland-based chemical plant.

State soil samples have uncovered dioxin levels many times above the health standard of 90 parts per trillion. In Saginaw Township's Imerman Park, concentrations climbed to 1,435 parts per trillion. In Freeland Festival Park in Tittabawassee Township, they reached 1,600 parts per trillion.

The cleanup plan calls for Dow to broaden residential soil sampling, erect community education centers and cover public parks and boat launches along the Tittabawassee River with new vegetation, soil and mulch.

State and corporate officials then will hammer out a more comprehensive work plan by next year.

In the meantime, here's the plan for 2004:

Poking into pollution

Dow plans to survey

Tittabawassee River residents whose properties lie next to the river or in areas that regularly flood. Those areas likely contain the highest dioxin levels.

Not only will the chemical company ask residents how they use their properties -- whether for gardening, picnics or recreation -- but it also will ask permission to visit the properties and take soil samples.

That data will guide an "interim" cleanup, officials say, a process that will guard residents against dioxin exposure while the comprehensive plan develops.

If levels are high, Dow may cover their property with new soil or sod. Or it may offer a house-cleaning to scrub away contamination.

The document showed a particular emphasis on the Riverside Boulevard neighborhood, where state officials recorded some of the highest dioxin levels on the river. Dow plans to cover soils, clean houses and educate residents about the dioxin risks by August.

Protecting the parks

The Midland-based chemical giant plans a literal cap on contamination in the parks.

Dow will layer polluted parkland with at least six inches of new topsoil and sod. In high-traffic areas, such as playgrounds and sports fields, the soil barrier will increase to 24 to 30 inches.

Dow has targeted Imerman Memorial Park, West Michigan Park and Freeland Festival Park for such work. The Center Road Boat Launch also will receive a gravel covering to prevent exposure to contaminated soil.

That's not all for the parks, however.

Regulators have required warning signs in all parks and high-use fishing and recreation areas along the river. Dow won't design the signs, but it will pay for them.

"Dow doesn't have the authority to say what they will be," Opperman said. "We will set up a fund. The state will work with parks managers to decide what they should be and where they should be. That seemed to be most pragmatic."

Making it public

Foremost on Dow's public agenda is the creation of community education centers.

The centers -- which Dow will stage in libraries and government offices in Saginaw Township, Thomas Township, James Township and Tittabawassee Township -- would contain fish advisories, pamphlets on how to avoid dioxin exposure, and background on dioxin and its potential health effects.

The plan stipulates that the state Department of Environmental Quality approve all materials.

Other plans include mapping the Tittabawassee River floodplain, studying dioxin levels in game animals and creating a long-term ecological risk assessment.

Corning Lane cleanup

Among the more substantive changes to the plan was regulators' demand for more soil sampling in neighborhoods north and east of the Dow plant. Samples taken in 1996 unearthed dioxin levels as high as 923 parts per trillion. Many were below that level, but still exceeding the state standard.

State officials fear the neighborhoods were contaminated by airborne emissions in past years.

Dow has proposed plans to sample those properties and mitigate any contamination.

Dow officials plan to develop a more comprehensive cleanup plan for Midland and the Tittabawassee River by next April. t

Jeremiah Stettler is a staff writer for The Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9685.

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