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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Information

bulletEPA Region 5 Tittabawassee / Saginaw River / Saginaw Bay Cleanup website
bulletDr Linda Birnbaum Presentations
bulletEPA Freedom Of Information Act Documents (FOIA)
bulletTittabawassee River Clean Up Progress Reports
bulletSaginaw River Clean Up Progress Reports
bulletDioxin Reassessment Report Status
bulletCommentary on Dow Chemical  Local Issues
bulletEPA: Dow happy? New Midwestern Administrator appointed with pro industry ties
bulletEPA: Dow to clean up 11 homes on Riverside Blvd.
bulletEPA responds: Chamber of Commerce statements have little factual basis
bulletEPA: Agencies consider downstream effect of river restoration
bulletEPA to seek immediate cleanup of dioxin in riverside residential neighborhood
bulletEPA top Midwest administrator forced out by Bush because of enforcing Dow cleanup
bulletEPA: EPA/MDEQ to sample Saginaw residential areas for dioxin
bulletEPA: EPA Terminates negotiations with Dow on river cleanup
bulletEPA: Dow misses EPA deadline
bulletEPA: Secret memo - dioxin report details deception
bulletEPA: Dow to clean up dioxin hot spot in the Saginaw River
bulletEPA responding to Dow's outrageous drops of ink in 55 gallon drum analogy
bulletEPA: Highest dioxin level found in Saginaw River: 1,600,000 ppt
bulletEPA notifies Dow of clean-air & hazardous waste violations
bullet EPA right in urging Dow to speed up work, editorial response to MDN
bulletEPA gives Dow 60 days to come up with cleanup plan
bulletEPA pulls out of negotiations
bulletEPA issues demand for Midland dioxin sampling data
bulletIt's no just dioxin anymore, new studies reveals many other hazards
bulletDow must clean up hot spots immediately
bulletEPA questions applicability of University if Michigan Dioxin study
bulletEPA finds Dow work plans critically deficient
bulletEPA drinking water sampling Bay City, Saginaw, Midland

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr Linda Birnbaum presentations

bulletDr. Linda Birnbaum, "Dioxin, are we at risk" audio presentation December 2002
bullet70 minutes of audio presented by one of the worlds leading dioxin experts
bulletRecorded in 43, 1-3 minute segments. 
bulletIf you do not have 70 minutes to spare, listen to a few segments a day.
bulletDr. Linda Birnbaum, "Dioxin Risk Characteristics" Power Point Presentation January 2003
bulletDr. Linda Birnbaum, "Re-evaluation of dioxin, Great Lakes Water Quality Board, 1993
bulletDr. Linda Birnbaum, "Science Vs Conjecture", April 13, 2005
bulletDr. Linda Birnbaum, "Dioxin, are we at risk" Power Point Presentation April 2005
bulletDr. Linda Birnbaum credentials

EPA: Commentary on Dow Chemical and other local issues

bullet01/08/11  EPA testing of local drinking water complete
Click here for map of sampling area

EPA has completed its water sampling from the drinking water systems for Midland, Saginaw and Bay City. Sampling was done in response to some community concerns that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigational dredging in the Saginaw River might stir up contaminants that could move downstream and affect drinking water. EPA took baseline samples in 2009 while no dredging was occurring, and again in 2010 while the Corps of Engineer’s dredging was underway. EPA tested for a wide range of chemicals including dioxins, furans, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics PCBs, pesticides and metals. A comparison of the baseline sampling results to the sampling results for when dredging was underway do not show a difference in water quality as a result of dredging. The results from both years were below EPA and Michigan DNRE’s standards for drinking water safety.
bulletMore than 180 compounds were analyzed for in each sample. Most compounds were not detected in any sample.
bulletSample results were compared to the U.S. EPA National Primary Drinking Water Regulations Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) established under the Safe Drinking Water Act. No contaminants were detected at concentrations exceeding the MCLs.
bulletA variety of other organic and inorganic contaminants were detected in all samples at low levels. Because MCLs are not established for all contaminants, sample results also were compared to Michigan's Part 201 Residential and Commercial 1 Drinking Water Criteria (Part 201 Criteria). Although the Part 201 Criteria are applicable to groundwater, these benchmarks were evaluated. None of these detected compounds exceeded the Part 201 Criteria.

Full report (256 pages, 8mb pdf)

 

bullet11/19/09 EPA says public drinking water does not have high levels dioxin

The EPA has announced that repeat testing found no dioxin or furan contamination in the public drinking water taken from the Saginaw Bay.  The first round of testing for dioxin and furans had to be rejected because of contaminated laboratory equipment.  This initial sampling was conducted to establish a baseline against which to compare data that will be collected at a future date during dredging activities in the Saginaw River.  Residents requested the sampling because of the chance that dioxin laden sediments from the dredging might be drawn into the public water inlets.

  Satellite views of the bay show a large plume of what looks like river sediment extending from Bay city and up to the area near Whitestone Point where Saginaw draws it's water. The EPA intends to resume testing in 2010 once dredging on the Saginaw River resumes.  Note that the Saginaw Bay sediment has been found to contain high levels of dioxin and furans and will be further investigated as part of the proposed EPA and Dow's cleanup settlement process.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-ap-mi-saginawriver-wate,0,6543507.story

Click here for the the actual test results

Below is the original press release from July and a list of chemicals tested (click on image):

List of contaminants to be analyzed. Click to view In July 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) tasked the Weston Solutions, Inc. (WESTON®), Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team (START) to conduct water sampling at three municipal water supply facilities (Facilities) located in Arenac, Midland, Saginaw, and Bay Counties in Michigan because of stakeholder concerns about potential re-suspension of contaminants from navigational dredging into the public drinking water supply.

On July 28, and 29, 2009, WESTON START mobilized to the Facilities to conduct baseline water sampling. This sampling was conducted to establish a baseline against which to compare data that will be collected at a future date during dredging activities in the Saginaw River. At the time of baseline sampling, dredging activities had been suspended for over 2 weeks. Major findings from the baseline water sampling include:

• More than 180 compounds were analyzed for in each sample. Most compounds were not detected in any sample.
• Sample results were compared to the U.S. EPA National Primary Drinking Water Regulations Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) established under the Safe Weston Solutions of Michigan, Inc.
• Furans were detected in all of the environmental samples, as well as in the blank samples (not source water) at similar concentrations, indicating that the furans are most likely from laboratory contamination. U.S. EPA has determined that the furan data are not usable as a result of this laboratory contamination. Therefore, U.S. EPA is arranging to resample the Facilities for furans.
• A variety of other organic and inorganic contaminants were detected in all samples at low levels. Because MCLs are not established for all contaminants, sample results also were compared to Michigan’s Part 201 Residential and Commercial 1 Drinking Water Criteria (Part 201 Criteria). Although the Part 201 Criteria are applicable to groundwater, these benchmarks were evaluated. None of these detected compounds exceeded the Part 201 Criteria.

 

bullet10/06/09  EPA water testing of municipal water supply facilities for Furans must be repeated

In July 2009, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) tasked the Weston Solutions, Inc. (WESTON®), Superfund Technical Assessment and Response Team (START) to conduct water sampling at three municipal water supply facilities (Facilities) located in Arenac, Midland, Saginaw, and Bay Counties in Michigan because of stakeholder concerns about potential re-suspension of contaminants from navigational dredging into the public drinking water supply.

On July 28, and 29, 2009, WESTON START mobilized to the Facilities to conduct baseline water sampling. This sampling was conducted to establish a baseline against which to compare data that will be collected at a future date during dredging activities in the Saginaw River. At the time of baseline sampling, dredging activities had been suspended for over 2 weeks. Major findings from the baseline water sampling include:

• More than 180 compounds were analyzed for in each sample. Most compounds were not detected in any sample.
• Sample results were compared to the U.S. EPA National Primary Drinking Water Regulations Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCLs) established under the Safe Weston Solutions of Michigan, Inc.
• Furans were detected in all of the environmental samples, as well as in the blank samples (not source water) at similar concentrations, indicating that the furans are most likely from laboratory contamination. U.S. EPA has determined that the furan data are not usable as a result of this laboratory contamination. Therefore, U.S. EPA is arranging to resample the Facilities for furans.
• A variety of other organic and inorganic contaminants were detected in all samples at low levels. Because MCLs are not established for all contaminants, sample results also were compared to Michigan’s Part 201 Residential and Commercial 1 Drinking Water Criteria (Part 201 Criteria). Although the Part 201 Criteria are applicable to groundwater, these benchmarks were evaluated. None of these detected compounds exceeded the Part 201 Criteria.

Click here for the entire report

bullet9/30/09 EPA: U of M dioxin study of limited value to evaluate human exposure

EPA REVIEWS UNIV. OF MICHIGAN DIOXIN STUDY; FINDS LIMITED APPLICATION TO TITTABAWASSEE RIVER AND SAGINAW RIVER AND BAY

CONTACT: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov

(CHICAGO - Sept. 30, 2009) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development has completed its review of a dioxin exposure study conducted by the University of Michigan in the Midland-Saginaw, Michigan area. EPA found the study was conducted well and provided useful, scientifically credible information. However, the study is of limited value to help EPA fully evaluate human exposure to levels of dioxin in the Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River and Bay.

EPA's review was conducted under the dioxin science plan announced by Administrator Lisa P. Jackson this past May. The University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study (UMDES) was conducted in response to community concerns that dioxin compounds from the Midland-based Dow Chemical Co. had contaminated the city and surrounding areas. The University received financial support for the UMDES from Dow through an unrestricted grant. Primary data collection was completed in 2004-2005 and the analysis of study results continues.

EPA's review identified several significant issues that limit the utility of the UMDES results:

* The study did not include children, who tend to have higher exposures to contaminants because they have more contact with, and ingestion, of soils and dusts.

* It is unclear if the study included a sufficient number of properties with highly-contaminated soils. Such properties can be found in the Midland-Saginaw area.

* It is uncertain how well the study represented people who participate in activities that could lead to elevated dioxin exposures, such as eating local fish and game with elevated dioxin levels.

Additionally, the UMDES included no health status information on the people surveyed. Thus, the UMDES data do not support analysis of the association between dioxin blood levels and possible health effects. Understanding these issues is critical when evaluating associations between exposure and blood dioxin levels in sensitive populations, including children. Also, the site specific data collected by the study will not be relevant as EPA revises its national interim preliminary remediation goals for dioxin in soil.

The study included more than 900 participants and provided estimates of the distributions of dioxin concentrations in blood, soil and dust in the Midland-Saginaw area as well as a reference area for comparison 100 miles to the south. EPA's review found that the UMDES was well-suited to identify patterns of serum dioxin, furan and PCB levels among adults. Among the study's other findings: people living the Midland-Saginaw area have higher blood dioxin levels than those in the reference area and national averages, and that properties in Midland-Saginaw tend to have higher soil dioxin levels than in the reference area. As has been found in other studies, it also found that higher blood dioxin levels were associated with demographic factors such as increased age, dietary choices and being overweight.

Representatives from EPA's Office of Research and Development and Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response will hold a public meeting in the Midland-Saginaw area in late October to discuss the UMDES review. More information will be announced soon.

See information on the UMDES and journal articles at http://www.sph.umich.edu/dioxin/index.html . See the EPA review's findings and the dioxin science plan at http://www.epa.gov/dioxin .
 

Click here to read the EPA report

bullet07/23/09 Recent EPA updates: Municipal Water Sampling of areas drinking water sources

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

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

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

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

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

bullet Field Sampling Plan for Midland/Saginaw/Bay City Water Supply (PDF) (27pp, 1.5MB) July 2009
 
bullet03/03/09 EPA to oversee Dow dioxin cleanup at Saginaw Township's West Michigan Park

CONTACT:Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, <mailto:hans.mick@epa.gov>hans.mick@epa.gov 
Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, <mailto:rowan.anne@epa.gov>rowan.anne@epa.gov
(MDEQ) Robert McCann, 517-241-7397

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 09-OPA024

EPA to oversee Dow dioxin cleanup at Saginaw Township's West Michigan Park

CHICAGO (March 3, 2009) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 said today that Dow Chemical Co. has agreed to conduct another Superfund removal action to clean up dioxin contamination in the Tri-Cities area. The new project, at Saginaw Township's West Michigan Park and nearby properties, is set to begin in mid-April. The work is expected to be finished and the park reopened by early June.

West Michigan Park is three miles upstream from the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee Rivers. Historically, the park and the neighborhood around the park have flooded a number of times, resulting in dioxin-contaminated river sediment being deposited in the area.

Dow will provide EPA with a detailed work plan for the cleanup by March 13. If EPA approves the plan, it will oversee Dow's cleanup of the 5-acre park. The cleanup includes excavation of soil in most areas and backfill with clean soil, paving of the park's driveway and parking lot, and elevation of playground equipment to avoid recontamination if the area floods again. The work will also address contamination hot spots at a condominium complex to the west and in several residential lots east of the park.

"The West Michigan Park cleanup marks the sixth Superfund removal of dioxin contamination EPA has supervised in the Tri-Cities area since July 2007," said Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. "We'll be devoting extra attention to the areas of the park where children play."

"Thanks to our combined efforts we continue to see progress made in moving the overall cleanup efforts forward," said Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Steven E. Chester. "The cleanup at West Michigan Park is an important step in this process, and we are looking forward to its reopening this summer once the work is complete."

Dow Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans are byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.

Find more information at http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical 

# # #

bullet02/12/08  EPA's response to OIG's evaluation of Superfund Alternative Site policy

EPA's response to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report dated June 2007.  "Please be aware that based on EPA's attached response and on  EPA's "Evaluation of the Superfund Alternative Approach implementation", the OIG closed their report on this matter."

bullet Evaluation of the Superfund Alternative Approach 2007
bullet EPA response to OIG  - Evaluation of the Superfund Alternative Approach 1007
 

bullet01/15/09 EPA's Tri-City Dioxin cleanup presentation
bulletNote: TRW and Lone Tree disagreed with much of this presentation (click here for our view).
bullet Presentation PowerPoint
bullet EPA's meeting notice
bullet11/7/08 Riverside Boulevard Cleanup status
The MDEQ meeting 11/7/08 revealed that Riverside Boulevard residents are satisfied with cleanup so far.  This neighborhood is located near the spot where the initial dioxin contamination was revealed to the public back in 2002 after a Lone Tree Council FOIA demonstrated that the former MDEQ administration was covering up the discovery.  View the "Long Shadow" documentary for a close-up of the early days in this saga including interviews with a Riverside resident who regularly consumed contaminated eggs from his free range chickens.
bulletRecent testing evidently confirmed previously reported high levels in the yards, roads, and homes of residents.  In July 2008, the EPA stepped in forced Dow to initiate an immediate cleanup.  River Boulevard is one of the last dirt roads in Saginaw County and provides the only access to the residents homes.  According to the MDEQ, dioxin levels of 10,000 ppt where discovered in the dusty and often muddy road.  The EPA has since paved it as part of the remediation.  This area is prone to repeated flooding, it will be interesting to see how future contamination is handled.
bullet Riverside Neighborhood EPA Pollution Status Report
 
bullet07/23/08 New EPA Midwest regional administrator appointed

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has a new regional administrator.  Federal administrator Stephen L. Johnson announced Monday that he appointed Lynn Buhl, a deputy assistant administrator in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance at EPA headquarters, to the administrator position.

Buhl will replace Mary Gade, who resigned May 1 amid internal fights over dioxin contamination near Dow Chemical Co.'s headquarters in Midland, Mich.

As a Bush political appointee Buhl's tenure may be limited to 6 months depending upon the elections in November. Will recent progress on the Tittabawassee River flood plain clean up come to a screeching halt?  Will Buhl develop a conscious as Mary Gady seemingly did so last year?  Will Dow have any influence on Buhl's actions?  Only time will tell.  Click here for article from Grist Magazine concerning Buhl and her past.

 
bullet07/15/08 EPA says Dow agrees to clean up dioxin contamination in Riverside neighborhood
CONTACT:Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov
  Karen Thompson, 312-353-8547, thompson.karen@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                          
No. 08-OPA121

Dow Chemical to clean up dioxin contamination in Saginaw's Riverside Boulevard neighborhood

CHICAGO (July 15, 2008) - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today announced an agreement with Dow Chemical Co. that requires the company to clean up dioxin contamination in the Riverside Boulevard neighborhood of Saginaw, Mich.  Construction work in this neighborhood on the Lower Tittabawassee River is expected to begin in late July and continue through the fall.

EPA's data shows unacceptably high levels of dioxin contamination in yards, the unpaved Riverside Boulevard roadway and in the interior of some homes. 
Last April, EPA took soil samples at the residential properties following discussions and consultation with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Community Health. 

"We are pleased that Dow and EPA were able to reach agreement on the terms of this cleanup," said EPA Region 5 Superfund Division Director Richard Karl.  "EPA will continue to oversee all aspects of the work along Riverside Boulevard in close coordination with MDEQ and MDCH."

The agreement, called an administrative order on consent, includes:
* Excavation of residential yards, then backfilling with clean soil.
* Interior cleaning of homes.
* Remediation of unpaved surfaces on Riverside Boulevard.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant.  Dioxins and furans are byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products.  Past waste disposal practices, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.  A copy of the administrative order on consent and other documents are at http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical.
                         
Sent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency · 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW · Washington DC 20460 · 202-564-4355

 
bullet06/01/08 EPA responds: Chamber of Commerce statements have little factual basis
As posted in the Saginaw News "My View" column Saturday June 1, 2008

Assumptions without research lead to misinformation

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shares the view recently expressed in these pages by Bob Van Deventer of the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce that protecting the health and safety of residents in the Saginaw Valley environment is a top priority.

However, Van Deventer's presentation of the issues concerning dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River system leaves out several important details.

Van Deventer claims that "not one individual has ever been ill because of the effects of furans/dioxins" in the river. This is a striking oversimplification. To EPA's knowledge, no specific study has ever been conducted that supports this statement.

Certainly, in the case of dioxin, delaying action until people actually suffer clinical health effects would be irresponsible.

Considerable evidence shows that adverse health effects are possible and may begin to occur when individuals are exposed at levels not much higher than those expected for the general population. Also, available data show elevated dioxin levels in soils near many private homes as well as in local game and fish in the Saginaw Valley.

Another Van Deventer claim, that "wildlife along the Tittabawassee River is flourishing," has little factual basis. The EPA has never received a work plan for an ecological risk assessment by Dow or Michigan State University researchers that meets the agency's baseline requirements. Furthermore, the MSU wildlife studies to date have not undergone peer review.

Finally, in discussing the University of Michigan's preliminary results from its dioxin exposure study, Van Deventer states that it "clearly showed very little difference in dioxin blood levels" between Tittabawassee River floodplain residents and a test group not living in the area. Again, the U-M study has yet to be fully peer-reviewed.

To conclude anything definitive at this early date would seem to be an attempt to limit further discussion. A final report is not expected until late this year at the earliest.

The studies under way clearly demand the full scrutiny of the scientific and academic communities. The agencies also fully support the concept of new, additional studies of human and ecological health in the area by qualified researchers. To do anything less is to short-change the residents and the health of the Saginaw Valley.

Mario M. Mangino is a toxicologist with the U.S. Environmental Agency's Region 5 in Chicago.
 

bullet06/1/08 EPA: Agencies consider downstream effect of river restoration

As posted in the Saginaw News "My View" column Saturday June 1, 2008, 2-3 months after it was submitted in response to Horn's My View article of 2/29/08

Agencies consider downstream effect of river restoration

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agrees with state Rep. Kenneth B. Horn that all parties with a vested interest in cleaning up the pervasive, long-standing dioxin and furan contamination in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers should work together to resolve this complex problem.

The residents who live along these valuable natural resources have been waiting for decades and deserve to finally see real action.

The EPA is working closely with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to accelerate the process and help bolster the state's efforts to compel Dow Chemical Co. to clean up the Tittabawassee River.

To be accountable to the public we serve, the EPA must also provide clarity, context and, in a few instances, corrections regarding some issues that were recently raised by Horn in these pages.

In 2006, Dow assured the DEQ that it would clean up three highly contaminated sections of the Tittabawassee River, but in 2007 the company indicated it would not finish by the end of the year. When Dow proposed two more years to finish work on the section near its Midland facility and made no plan to clean up the section six miles downriver, the EPA exercised its authority under Superfund and ordered Dow to complete all three cleanups simultaneously in 2007.

It is important to note that the DEQ and Dow were already planning to remove dioxin-contaminated soil along the 1,600-foot section three miles downriver from Dow's plant before the EPA got involved.

The plan called for Dow to engineer the riverbank to minimize future erosion. The goal was to allow the river to expand up the bank and reduce its energy during high flow periods.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also provided expert opinion, and its recommendations were incorporated into the work plan. The EPA's order ensured that the work got done.

Horn made the point that "lots of rip-rap" should be used to keep the banks from eroding.

While the EPA agrees that using some rip-rap is warranted, overuse may concentrate the river's energy and cause problems for communities downriver.

The EPA and the DEQ recognize that extensive work needs to be done to stabilize rapidly eroding riverbanks. However, neither agency considers lining the river with rip-rap an acceptable solution.

It is also necessary to clarify that as a matter of fact, 300 majestic, 100-year-old oak trees were not ripped from the ground during the cleanup.

According to Dow's tree inventory, only three of the 419 trees cut down were oaks. The rest were fast-growing and short-lived cottonwoods and ashes, generally considered to be less desirable. It is highly unlikely that many of them were 100 years old since most were small in diameter indicating relatively young ages.

Certainly, the EPA realizes it is unfortunate that even one tree was cut down, and that is why Dow was required to plant 430 new trees.

The Fish and Wildlife Service recommended that Dow replace the trees with a greater variety of native species because diversity makes the area less susceptible to blight or infestation.

Dow also replaced groundcover in the area with native grasses, an improvement requested by the Natural Resource Trustees.

The EPA could not agree more with Horn that future work should be accomplished in a way that does the least damage possible to the natural beauty of the rivers. The EPA and the DEQ are working together to make sure that even greater care is taken in the future to protect existing vegetation and, when possible, enhance the habitat with natural bank stabilization methods.

Ralph Dollhopf is associate director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 5 Superfund Division in Chicago.
 

bullet05/29/08 EPA to seek immediate cleanup of dioxin in riverside residential neighborhood

"One sample of household dust had dioxin levels of 3,000 parts per trillion, three times more than the federal cleanup standard. Levels in the yards were as high as 23,000 parts per trillion and averaged 2,000 parts per trillion."

bullet Chicago Tribune article
bullet Detroit Free Press article
bulletEPA Press release (below)

EPA to seek immediate cleanup of dioxin contamination in riverside residential area

Release date: 05/28/2008

Contact Information: Kären Thompson, 312-353-8547, thompson.karen@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 08-OPA097

CHICAGO (May 28, 2008) - Officials from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Michigan Department of Community Health met with residents of the Riverside Boulevard neighborhood in Saginaw last night to discuss results of recent sampling of dioxin-contaminated soil in the area.

Soil from residential properties in an area along the Lower Tittabawassee River was recently sampled and analyzed by EPA and evaluated in collaboration with MDEQ and health officials. While final data is still coming in, preliminary results show properties with unacceptably high levels of dioxin contamination.

EPA has notified Dow Chemical Co. of the situation and will meet with the company and MDEQ to discuss potential response actions. EPA and Dow successfully negotiated the terms of four hot spot cleanup projects implemented by Dow on the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers downstream of its Midland, Mich., facility last year.

"This cleanup is a high priority as this dioxin contamination is in a residential neighborhood," said EPA Region 5 Superfund Division Director Richard Karl. "We will continue to work with the state agencies to evaluate results of sampling from other residential areas and consider appropriate actions.

The recent sampling project was prompted by Dow's February 2008 disclosure to the agencies of an elevated dioxin level found in a residential soil sample collected by Dow in November 2007. Under the company's Michigan operating license which requires Dow to conduct corrective action for historic releases, MDEQ has been requiring Dow to conduct floodplain soil, riverbank and sediment sampling in and along the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans are byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.
 

# #
bullet 05/01/08 EPA top Midwest administrator forced out by Bush because of enforcing Dow cleanup

Mary Gade,  based in Chicago, says Bush administration made her quit over Dow Chemical case

  Tribune reporter  May 1, 2008


The Bush administration forced its top environmental regulator in the Midwest to quit Thursday after months of internal bickering about dioxin contamination downstream from Dow Chemical's world headquarters in Michigan.

    snip: For the past year, Gade has been locked in a heated dispute with Dow about long-delayed plans to clean up dioxin-saturated soil and sediment that extends 50 miles beyond its Midland, Mich., plant into Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.

    snip: Though regional EPA administrators typically have wide latitude to enforce environmental laws, Gade drew fire from officials in Washington last month after she sent contractors to test soil in a Saginaw neighborhood where Dow had found high dioxin levels.

    snip:"There is no question this is about Dow," Gade said. "I stand behind what I did and what my staff did. I'm proud of what we did."

 http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/green/chi-epa-official-resigns_webmay02,0,4655733.story

---- 

 Make no mistake good people of the Saginaw Bay Watershed, Mary Gade was a great asset to the region and to the Saginaw Bay Watershed.

 Harken back to the 1980's and Dow interference with EPA.  For months now Dow has been reaching out to EPA headquarters shopping around for a better deal, a quick-out or an  opportunity to skirt the law. Same thing they've been doing for thirty plus years.

 

Looking forward to the ongoing investigative story by the Tribune. Go to the link and watch the video clip of Joy and Lloyd Cooper who live on the Tittabawassee River in the neighborhood that drew Mary Gade so much fire.

 

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council  

 

Click here to view the entire Dioxin Update  

bullet 04/02/08 EPA/MDEQ to sample Saginaw residential areas for dioxin
CONTACT: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov
                Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE               
No. OPA047
EPA, MDEQ to sample Saginaw residential area for dioxin contamination
 
(Chicago- Apr. 2, 2008) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality have begun screening a residential neighborhood in Saginaw Mich., for dioxin-contaminated soil.
An estimated 10 residential properties in an area along the Tittabawassee River will be sampled.  Small plugs from up to 36 inches below surface level will be sent for laboratory analysis. 
Analysis may take two to three weeks.  Once the data is returned, EPA and MDEQ, along with Michigan Department of Community Health, will consider a range of options, including more comprehensive sampling in the area and possible cleanup actions.
"Residential soil contamination is a serious matter," said Associate Superfund Director Ralph Dollhopf.  "At this time of year, children are playing outside again and families are planning gardens.  If action is needed, this project will ramp up very quickly." 
The investigation aims to determine the extent of dioxin contamination present in the neighborhood.  The project was prompted by Dow Chemical Co.'s February 2008 disclosure to the agencies of an elevated dioxin level found in a residential soil sample collected by Dow in November 2007.  Under the company's Michigan operating license, MDEQ required Dow to conduct certain soil and embankment sampling along the Middle Branch of the Tittabawassee River.
Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant.  Dioxins and furans are byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products.  Past waste disposal practices, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on and off-site dioxin and furan contamination. 

View all Region 5 News Releases

 
bullet 01/04/08  EPA Terminates negotiations with Dow on river cleanup

Maybe there is hope yet.  In our previous update (see 12/22/07 entry below) , the EPA negotiations with Dow seemed to be following a  familiar pattern with a predicted outcome.  Today's EPA Press Release (below) may indicate a fundamental shift in the right direction.  Dow influenced Local and State politicians are preventing the MDEQ and it's hard working staff from accomplishing much other than a few public relations "hotspot" cleanup stunts in a long and protracted process that would take decades to resolve the entire watershed.  In contrast, recent EPA comments indicate they are ready to cut through all the bull and prepared to force Dow to come up with a comprehensive plan that protects human health and the environment.  Only time will tell.

What we need is a cleanup plan that immediately addresses the entire 50 mile river system and the floodplains that surround it.  What's next?  Speculation ( that's all it is at this point since the negotiations are closed to the public) is that the EPA may just hire contractors to perform the necessary cleanup and send the bill to Dow.  We doubt Dow would just roll over and pay, a Federal lawsuit may be in the works and Dow's operating license could be in jeopardy.   We hope it does not come to that, maybe Dow will decide to start to play ball in earnest.
---------

EPA Press Release

Release date: 01/04/2008

Contact Information: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
No. 08-OPA001

(Chicago, Ill. - Jan. 4, 2008) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today stopped its negotiations with Dow Chemical aimed at a settlement to conduct a study and interim cleanup actions for dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River system.

"EPA does not believe that the deal Dow is offering goes far enough," said Ralph Dollhopf, Associate Director for the Superfund Division of EPA's Regional Office in Chicago. "Key issues that are paramount for protecting human health and the environment remain unresolved. EPA simply will not accept any deal that is not comprehensive."

Last October, EPA called for 60 days of negotiations under provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund. Superfund specifies the process in which a remedial investigation and feasibility study must be conducted, as well as the design and execution of a cleanup plan. Last month, EPA extended its Dec.10, 2007, deadline to resolve remaining issues and reach a final agreement.

"I am extremely disappointed with this outcome," said Regional Administrator Mary A. Gade. "EPA approached negotiations with high hopes and realistic expectations. Our team put in many long hours of good faith efforts that came to an unfortunate end today. EPA is now reviewing its options for ensuring that dioxin contamination in the river system and the Midland area can be fully addressed."

The targeted area begins upstream of Dow's Midland, Mich., facility and extends downstream to the Saginaw River, its floodplains and Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron.

Under Superfund, an investigation and study are necessary to evaluate the nature and extent of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants from a site and assess the risks they present to human health and the environment. It would also require that enough data be developed to evaluate a range of cleanup options.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans are byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, fugitive emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.

For more information about the cleanup, visit http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical/
 

 

bullet 12/22/07 Dow requests deadline extension

Dow missed the EPA's cleanup 60 day negotiation deadline of December 10, 2007.  The October 10, 2007 EPA press release , EPA to Dow Chemical: 60 day clock to negotiate on Tittabawassee River system cleanup starts today,  stated "EPA may choose to extend negotiations until Jan. 9, 2008, if appropriate".  Is anyone surprised?  Dow always delays everything it can. 

What should concern everyone is that on the surface, this process closely resembles the pattern of the last "negotiation" in 2004 when the Governor Granholm stopped the transparent public process and went behind closed doors with Dow.   Is this just another replay of 2004/2005?    Should we substitute the abbreviation "DEQ" with "EPA" in the timeline below?  Any one seen Dave Camp hanging around the EPA office lately?  We hope not, however with negotiations behind closed doors again, only time will tell.

bullet May 9, 2004 -- DEQ won't back down on dioxin cleanup
bullet May 26. 2004 -- A community meeting sponsored by the City of Midland draws more than 1,500 to the Midland Center for the Arts to hear DEQ Director Steve Chester, representatives from the city, Dow and the Midland County Health Department talk about dioxin contamination.  Emotions of residents and local lawmakers are inflamed.
bullet May 27. 2004 --A cleanup plan for the Tittabawassee River and Midland isn't done yet, but state Department of Environmental Quality officials vow to have it ready by mid-June.
bullet May 27. 2004 -- Senate & House Bills are introduced by Sen. Tony Stamas and Rep. John Moolenaar to give polluters free ride
bullet June 1. 2004 -- Congressman Dave Camp, state Sens. Mike Goschka and Tony Stamas and state Reps. Jim Howell, John Moolenaar and Sandy Caul request a meeting with Gov. Jennifer Granholm to talk about dioxin.
bullet June 3. 2004 -- The governor tells the Midland Daily News she wants to "turn down the temperature on this very hot issue."
bullet June 3. 2004 -- State Rep. John Moolenaar recommends cuts in the Department of Environmental Quality budget, calling the move a "message of intent" for a department "out of control." Cuts suggested included a 15 percent reduction in director Steve Chester's salary and the abolishment of the DEQ's hazardous waste program.
bullet June 5. 2004 -- Congressman Dave Camp, state Sen. Tony Stamas and state Reps. Mike Goschka and John Moolenaar and Sandy Caul, meet with Gov. Granholm at Mackinaw Island.
bullet June 21 -- Residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain meet in Lansing to tell Gov. Jennifer Granholm about their personal dioxin dilemmas.
bullet June 24. 2004 -- High level talks between Lt. Gov. John Cherry, Chester and Dow begin. T
bullet Aug. 29. 2004 -- Residents of the Tittabawassee River flood plain send a letter to the governor, lieutenant governor and Chester saying they are growing increasingly concerned about the inaction of officials and are questioning their trust in the government.
bullet Sept. 1,2004   -- John Moolenaar says that a meeting among the concerned parties is planned for Sept. 15 at which he expects a plan of action to be presented.
bullet Sept 10, 2004 -- Enough peace and quiet; it's time to talk, That's what some residents are saying, claiming that high-level dioxin cleanup negotiations between Dow Chemical Co. and the state Department of Environmental Quality have stayed hush-hush too long.
bullet Sept. 16, 2004 -- The state Department of Environmental Quality  emerges from negotiations with Dow Chemical Co. not with an agreement about how to proceed with dioxin cleanup, but with a date.  DEQ spokeswoman said the parties plan to reach agreement by Sunday, Oct. 31
bullet Nov. 1, 2004 -- Halloween deadline missed "
bullet December 27, 2004 -- still no response, residents write letter to Granholm.
bullet January 13, 2005 -- No deal yet on dioxin cleanup
bullet January 21, 2005 -- Dow and DEQ agree on "framework", not cleanup
bullet January 24, 2005 -- Leading citizens and environmental groups today 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
 ...
  Slow forward to 2007
 ...
bullet July 3, 2007, EPA tells Dow to clean up dioxin
bullet October 23, 2007, Play it again Sam DEQ and EPA once again announce they will  be going behind closed doors to NEGOTIATE a cleanup with Dow Chemical.
bullet December 21, 2007, Chamber of Commerce asks DEQ to be removed from dioxin negotiations

 

bullet 12/7/07  Secret Memo: Dioxin report details deception

Click here to view the confidential EPA memo detailing Dow's deceptive tactics accidentally released to the Lone Tree Council as part of a FOIA request.  See 12/7/07  Detroit Free Press story for an interpretation.  Note: there have been two breaking stories in the last 24 hours, the whistle blower lawsuit filed yesterday about Dow submitting flawed data to the MDEQ is unrelated to the leaked EPA memo above. However they both share a common theme: a sneaky and unscrupulous Dow Chemical The Detroit Free Press reports (a few snippets)

EPA found state failed to stand up to chemical giant

With the state's complicity, Dow Chemical Co. has delayed cleanup and misled the public about the dangers of dioxin it dumped decades ago into rivers downstream of its Midland plant, Environmental Protection Agency officials charged in a confidential August internal report.

The memo, obtained by the Free Press, also said Dow impeded state efforts to force a cleanup, concealed data and studies, tried to keep documents confidential that should have been made public and insisted on negotiating cleanup details with Gov. Jennifer Granholm's office, rather than staff of the state Department of Environmental Quality.  ...

The situation has left people living along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers frustrated. Their yards and homes are contaminated with dioxin that continues to wash onto their land during flooding. ...

 

Separately from the EPA memo, a high-ranking Dow employee, whose job was to oversee validation of test results of soil samples tested for dioxin along the river, filed a lawsuit in Saginaw County last month claiming tests by Dow contractors were so flawed that the laboratory doing the validation rejected them and then quit, saying it didn't want to continue validation work for Dow. ...

A revealing memo

The EPA memo accidentally was released within recent weeks to the Lone Tree Council, an environmental group, under a Freedom of Information Act request. ...
 
The memo said that Dow, unlike most companies, has insisted on direct negotiations with the governor and with Chester of the DEQ.
The EPA memo also said:

• Dow had done unapproved studies and collected data without telling regulators. The DEQ fined the firm $70,000 in January 2006 over illegal sampling.

• Political figures, including legislators, have been involved on Dow's behalf, trying to soften standards in the company's favor.

• Dow tried to make dioxin seem less toxic. The EPA issued a press release last month rebuking Dow for statements downplaying the extremely high sample found in the Saginaw River.

• Dow used a dispute process to make documents confidential that should not be. The memo itself is one of those documents. ...

• Under a grant from Dow and pursuant to an unpublished contract with Dow, the University of Michigan has conducting a study of dioxin exposure in the Saginaw Bay watershed. EPA does not consider the study to be particularly relevant to the corrective action in this matter and believes the study was initiated at the request of Dow in order to downplay the risks of exposure to dioxin contaminated soils.

 

Getting to the truth

In her suit, whistleblower Denney said the independent laboratory double-checking the dioxin results told her in November 2006 that the data from Dow's contractor was badly flawed. ...
 

Denney told her bosses. A week later, they ordered her to stop doing any work relating to the data validation.

The lab rejected the data in a letter Dec. 5, 2006, saying it couldn't validate it.

On Dec. 8, the lab sent Dow a letter terminating its contract, citing a breakdown in procedures. Denney's suit said Dow submitted the bad data to the DEQ in February.

"She's been shut out," said Victor Mastromarco Jr., Denney's attorney.

 

bullet Click here to view the entire Free Press article
bullet Click here to view the whistle blowers suit document
 
bullet11/16/07  EPA: Dow to clean up dioxin hot spot in the Saginaw River

CONTACT: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov Mick Hans, 312-353-5050,
 hans.mick@epa.gov

For Immediate Release No. 07-OPA227

EPA: DOW TO CLEAN UP DIOXIN HOT SPOT IN THE SAGINAW RIVER

CHICAGO (Nov.15, 2007) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Dow
Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., today signed a consent order to begin an emergency
cleanup of a previously unknown dioxin hot spot on the Saginaw River.

Under the order, Dow must dredge dioxin-contaminated sediments in the Saginaw.
Field work must begin immediately with the dredging to be completed by Dec. 15.

“The extremely high level of dioxin found in the Saginaw River and its possible
consequences warrant immediate action,” said Regional Administrator Mary A. Gade.
“Today’s Superfund emergency order requires action now to eliminate an imminent
and substantial threat to human health and the environment.

“ Friday evening, Nov. 9, Dow notified EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental
Quality of preliminary results of over 1.6 million parts per trillion (ppt) of dioxin in one
sample of sediment taken from the Saginaw River. This dioxin concentration is probably
the highest ever found in the Great Lakes. The sample came from a location a half-mile
below the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee Rivers, roughly adjacent to
Wickes Park in Saginaw.

On Sunday, EPA provided Dow legal notice of its potential liability and the Agency’s intent
 to immediately begin cleanup. Under the Superfund law, EPA gave Dow the option to
 perform the cleanup under EPA oversight. On Monday, EPA and MDEQ technical experts
 surveyed the site and met with Dow to discuss cleanup alternatives. On Tuesday, Dow
 notified EPA that it would agree to perform the work under an EPA order.   ....

bullet Click here to read the entire EPA Press Release
bullet Click here to read the "Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on
 Consent for Removal Action" between DOW and the EPA
 
bullet11/14/07 EPA responding to Dow's outrageous drops of ink in 55 gallon drum analogy

Would appear EPA did not take lightly Dow's PR spin to down play the significance of 1.6 million
 ppt hot spot in the Saginaw River or the company's attempt to brush aside their dioxin contaminating
fish and then people who eat the fish:

CONTACT: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, <mailto:rowan.anne@epa.gov>rowan.anne@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07-OPA220

Note to correspondents: More information on new dioxin hot spot in the Saginaw River

(Chicago, Ill. - Nov. 14, 2007) Recent published statements by a Dow Chemical Co. spokesman
regarding the company's discovery of another dioxin hot spot in the Saginaw River may leave the
public with mistaken impressions about the health concerns related to this finding and exposure
 pathways. Comparing a highly toxic chemical such as dioxin to ink drops in a drum as Dow
recently did, minimizes the real concern regarding dioxin's toxicity and the very high level found. ...
bullet Click here for the entire update 
bullet Click here to watch latest video which includes EPA comments on the situation (on line for 7 days)

 

bullet11/13/07 EPA orders emergency cleanup, 1,600,000 ppt dioxin found next to park

Highest dioxin level found in Saginaw River: EPA, MDEQ and Dow at work on emergency cleanup

Release date: 11/13/2007

Contact Information: Anne Rowan, 312 353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

07-OPA217

(Chicago, Ill. - Nov. 13, 2007) Acting immediately on information received from Dow Chemical Co. of Midland, Mich., U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the company have begun preliminary emergency removal activities at a previously unknown dioxin hot spot on the Saginaw River.

Late Friday, Dow notified EPA and MDEQ of preliminary, unvalidated results of over 1.6 million parts per trillion (ppt) of dioxin in one sample of sediment taken from the Saginaw River. This concentration is 50 times higher than a 32,000 ppt level, previously the highest found in the Saginaw River. It is 15 times higher than any dioxin levels found at hot spots in the Tittabawassee River. This new Saginaw River sample came from a location a half mile below the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee Rivers, roughly adjacent to Wickes Park in Saginaw.

"EPA has determined that this emergency work should be performed under an EPA Superfund order," said Regional Administrator Mary A. Gade. "EPA and MDEQ are working closely together on a thorough and appropriate plan to remove this hot spot. Moreover, we must be very cautious to make sure, through laboratory tests, that we determine the extent of this high level of contamination. It may be only one additional hot spot or it could cover a larger area."

Dow discovered the latest hot spot during sampling done according to its own Sept. 14, 2007 work plan, which has not been approved by either EPA or MDEQ.

As a result of EPA Superfund orders in June 2007, Dow is now wrapping up the cleanup of three dioxin hot spots in the Tittabawassee River and should be done by year's end. Those dioxin hot spots along the first six miles of the Tittabawassee River were contaminated at levels up to 87,000 ppt, far above state and federal action levels. The area is prone to flooding and erosion which can spread contamination.

Dioxins are highly toxic compounds that pose serious risks to human health and the environment. EPA's reassessment of the most recent scientific findings on dioxin indicates that it is a more potent chemical than previously understood.

For more information about the health impacts of dioxin and eating fish from the Saginaw River system, members of the public may call the Michigan Dept. of Community Health at 800-648-6942 and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry at 312-886-0840.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans come from the production of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, fugitive emissions and incineration at Dow resulted in dioxin and furan contamination both on- and off-site.

In separate legal actions last week, EPA cited Dow for air and hazardous waste violations at its Midland facility. These involve preliminary findings of violations and Dow has 30 days to discuss resolution of the allegations.

Fact sheets on dioxins from Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) ToxFAQ http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/tfacts104.html

####

bullet Click here for map of 1,600,000 ppt contamination 
bullet Click here for EPA pollution report on the site

Click here for a biased Dow media spin article released earlier today to preempt
 the EPA report.  Local media bought it up hook, line, and sinker.  TV news had
the Dow spinmister John Musser comparing the find to 6 drop in a 55 gallon barrel
and interviews with fishermen lowering their hook almost directly over the contaminated
 area.  Both articles are using the term "Dioxin-Like" (assume it was a sound bite provided
by Dow) in an attempt to downplay the discovery.  Regardless of the "dow-ese" used by
the media, the samples taken near Wickes park revel dioxin in unprecedented levels and it
is the same Dow DIOXIN found throughout the Saginaw Bay watershed.  Suffice it to say
that this is  "sound science" at it's finest.

Dioxin-Like refers to compounds from a group of halogenated aromatic hydrocarbons that
have molecules shaped like TCDD and produce similar toxic effects, such as certain other
chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (CDDs) and certain chlorinated dibenzofurans (CDFs),
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polybrominated biphenyls (PBBs),
brominated dibenzo-p-dioxins (BDDs), and brominated dibenzofurans (BDFs).

 

bullet11/09/07 EPA notifies Dow of clean-air & hazardous waste violations

Chicago, Ill. - Nov. 9, 2007) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today notified
Dow Chemical Co. that it has found potential clean-air and hazardous waste violations at
the company's Midland, Mich., facility.


EPA issued a finding of violation under the Clean Air Act and a notice of violation under
the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. It also issued requests for information under
 both acts.


"The issuance of these notices and requests for information shows that the agency takes
seriously its responsibility of protecting human health and the environment," said Regional
Administrator Mary A. Gade. "Our investigation of this very large facility spanned eight
weeks over a two-year period and included personnel from EPA's National Enforcement
Investigation Center. Today's actions are a product of that investigation."


EPA alleges Dow violated the Clean Air Act by, among other things, failing to follow
regulations aimed at detecting and repairing leaks, as well as failing to conduct a required
stack test. Dow was also allegedly found to be in violation of multiple Resource Conservation
 and Recovery Act requirements for managing hazardous waste.


These are preliminary findings of violations. To resolve them, EPA may issue a compliance
 order, assess an administrative penalty or bring suit against the company. Dow has 30 days
 from receipt of the notice to meet with EPA to discuss resolving the allegations.


EPA said Dow's alleged clean-air violations may have increased public exposure to organic
 hazardous air pollutant emissions including, but not limited to, ethyl chloride, toluene, ethylene,
 perchloroethylene, methanol and hydrogen chloride. Hazardous air pollutants may cause serious
 health effects including birth defects and cancer and may also cause harmful environmental
and ecological effects. These pollutants are also volatile organic compounds and are major
 precursors of ground-level ozone (smog).


Smog is formed when a mixture of pollutants react on warm, sunny days. Smog can cause
respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain.
 People with asthma, children and the elderly are especially at risk, but these health
concerns are important to everyone.


Hazardous wastes have properties that make them dangerous or potentially harmful to
human health and the environment. They exhibit at least one of four characteristics - flammability,
corrosivity, reactivity or toxicity. They can be liquids, solids, contained gases or sludges and
 can be products of manufacturing processes or simply discarded commercial products like
cleaning fluids or pesticides.

 

Click here for the entire press release

 

bullet10/23/07 EPA right in urging Dow to speed up work

To the editor (Midland Daily News):

    Your editorial of Sept. 17th entitled "Our View: EPA should finish its work" suggests that
 because the agency's dioxin reassessment is not yet completed, dioxin toxicity remains
open to serious scientific debate. This is simply not true.

    EPA has extensive scientific knowledge on the toxicity of dioxin. Thousands of peer-reviewed
 scientific studies have been published. No matter how you look at dioxin, one fact remains indisputable:
dioxin is a highly toxic compound. In fact, EPA's reassessment of the most recent science indicated
that dioxin is a more potent toxic chemical than previously believed. A recent University of Michigan
study funded by Dow Chemical revealed that people consuming fish from the Tittabawassee River,
Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay have higher than average levels of dioxin in their blood. Any increase
 in the dioxin levels of fish consumers is a health concern.

    For more than 25 years, the State of Michigan has found it necessary to issue consumption
advisories on fish from the Tittabawassee River, the Saginaw River and the Saginaw Bay because
 dioxin contamination extends over 50 miles. EPA believes that the current science on dioxin is
 sufficient to develop cleanup criteria for the watershed. Even without a final dioxin reassessment,
EPA has moved forward with dioxin cleanups across the nation to protect public health.

    The Midland Daily News is right to urge EPA to continue its work on a final dioxin reassessment
and take into consideration comments provided by the National Academy of Science. And EPA is
 right to urge Dow Chemical to continue and accelerate its work to restore the Saginaw Bay watershed
 so that fish consumers will no longer need to be concerned about dioxin in the fish they eat.

    Richard Karl, Director
    Superfund Division
    U.S. EPA Region 5
    Midland

 

bullet
EPA to Dow Chemical:  60 day clock to negotiate on Tittabawassee River system cleanup starts today
 
CONTACT: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, hans.mick@epa.gov
  Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, rowan.anne@epa.gov  
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE               
No. 07-OPA175

CHICAGO (Oct. 10, 2007) - At a meeting today in Chicago, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 formally notified Dow Chemical that it has a limited opportunity to negotiate with the Agency on a settlement to conduct an investigation, a study and interim response actions for dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River system. The Midland, Mich., company has until Oct. 17 to decide whether it will negotiate.

The targeted area begins upstream of Dow's Midland Plant and may extend downstream to the Saginaw River, its floodplains and portions of Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron. 

EPA has the authority to call for negotiations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund. Superfund specifies the process in which a remedial investigation/ feasibility study (RI/FS), cleanup removal actions and remedy design must be conducted.

"The Superfund law provides a strong mechanism to continue necessary actions to comprehensively and definitively address the issue of dioxin contamination in the river system," said Ralph Dollhopf, associate director of EPA's Regional Superfund Division. "The work begun this summer to address three hot spots in the Tittabawassee River is also being performed under Superfund authority."

Dow's expected RI/FS effort must evaluate the nature and extent of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants from the site and assess the risks they present to human health and the environment. It must also provide enough data to develop and evaluate a range of cleanup options.


If the company agrees begin negotiations, Dow will have until Dec. 10 to present EPA with a good faith offer demonstrating its willingness to conduct or finance an RI/FS and design a remedy. EPA may choose to extend negotiations until Jan. 9, 2008, if appropriate. 

Top EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials are meeting today in Lansing to discuss their respective roles throughout this process.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans were byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, fugitive emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.

 
bullet09/12/07 EPA has had enough, pulling out of current mediation process

The United States Region 5 Environmental Protection Agency has declared the current mediation process between
 Dow Chemical and the State of Michigan broken and is pulling out of the process. 

"EPA believes a more open and transparent process is the best way to make important decisions that will affect
the future health and vitality of the watershed for the people of Michigan and the United States," said Regional
Administrator Mary A. Gade. "Despite the best intentions of all involved, the current process is not working as
effectively as it should and it is time to consider a new approach."

Citizens were denied an open and transparent process back in 2005
 when Lt. Governor John Cherry signed the infamous "framework" agreement. 

What's next?  Will the EPA propose or mandate a new plan, sue Dow for
the missing information, or just walk away?  We doubt it's the latter, stay
tuned.

Click here to view the entire EPA press release.

 

bullet 8/31/07 EPA issues demand for Midland dioxin sampling data

From: U.S. EPA [mailto:usaepa@govdelivery.com]
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2007 5:44 PM
Subject: Hazardous Waste News (Region 5): EPA issues demand for Midland dioxin sampling data

 CONTACT: Karen Thompson, 312-353-8547, thompson.karen@epa.gov
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 
No. 07-OPA151

EPA issues demand for Midland dioxin sampling data

(Chicago, Ill. - Aug. 31, 2007) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today issued a request for information to the city of Midland, Mich., for all dioxin sampling data taken within the city in 2006 and 2007. 

The city of Midland has information that would give EPA a more complete picture of Dow Chemical Co.'s dioxin contamination in that area.  EPA has also sent information requests to two other entities that hold relevant information.

"It appears that the data is obscured by an unusual double blind system that EPA has been unable to obtain voluntarily from the city of Midland," said EPA Region 5 Superfund Division Director Richard Karl.  "The city holds the key to the data and we're requiring them to provide it." 

Today's request is part of a larger investigation of dioxin contamination in the Midland area.  In mid-August, EPA issued two requests to Dow asking for  information on off-site and on-site dioxin sampling conducted by Dow and more extensive data on numerous other hazardous materials produced at the Dow Midland plant.  

Dow began a dioxin cleanup in three hot spots of the Tittabawassee River as a result of EPA orders in late June.  Those cleanups are expected to be completed this year and set the stage for additional work downriver.

The Dow facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant located in Midland, Mich.  Dioxins and furans were byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products.  Past waste disposal practices, fugitive emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination. 

bullet07/11/07  READ THIS - Unbelievable, shocking, it isn't just dioxin anymore!!

Speechless.....

A EPA document recently obtained by the Lone Tree Council exposes the TRUE state of the Tittabawassee River and Dows attempts to repeatedly delay addressing the problems.  It's not just dioxin any more folks

It seems we are a true silicon valley now thanks to Dow Corning. Silicon has been found in every soil sample taken.  Not to mention another 29+ dangerous chemicals including Octachlorostyrene , Hexachlorobenzene, Aldrin, Dieldrin, Fhloradane, DDT, Mirex, and Toxaphene. 

But lets not forget about the unprecedented levels of dioxin. The document offers valid scientific references which counter almost every lie Dow has purported as "Sound Science" over the last 5 years.

The contents are mind blowing and the implications staggering. This is a must read for everyone, please download it, print it and pass around (it's 44 pages but everyone of them contains important myth busting facts).   Politicians should pay close attention, the cats out of the bag.

Below are a few of the key points of the document, many more are contained in the document with supporting evidence.

bulletMost of Dow's proposed Scope of Work (SOW) and Remedial Investigation Work Plans (RIWP) are deficient and should not be approved by the MDEQ.
bulletDow is not complying with it's RCRA license
bulletDow's deviation from the EPA's guidelines concerning Human Health Risk Assessments are unacceptable.
bulletDow's deviation from the EPA's guidelines concerning Ecological Risk Assessments are unacceptable.
bulletDow's lack of progress in completing their Immediate Response Actions (IRA) is unacceptable.
bulletDow did not include any of the several hundred hazardous chemicals and byproducts produced in it's plants history, the EPA wants a revised RIWP which includes them.
bulletDow demonstrates a pattern of missed deadlines and incomplete corrective action document submittals to the MDEQ, this is a violation of their RCRA License.
bulletDow has failed to report all environmental monitoring data and has inappropriately applied confidential status to much of the data.
bulletThe EPA has major concerns about the Geomorph studies which have many deficiencies and feels the process has not been fully proven.
bulletSilicon has been found present in all soil samples and could be an explanation for the unusual distribution of dioxin and furans in the environment.
bulletEPA believes the 1986 flood caused a release of hazardous chemicals from Dows waste water treatment facility.
bulletEPA is very concerned with 29 chemicals that have been found in the sediment and fish that have been produced by the Dow plant over the years.
bulletDow is manipulating chemical concentration data in it's studies.
bulletDow's Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) cite scientific literature in a very selective manner, ignoring recent cancer and other studies which offer contrary outcomes.
bulletThe Dow TCDD Worker study they cite so often is flawed and the outcome meaningless
bulletEPA considers Dow's selective citations to scientific literature unacceptable.
bulletEPA has significant concerns with human dioxin exposure through the food chain pathway.
bulletBecause of the risk to human health, the EPA considers Dows plans to do additional studies before taking remedial action unacceptable.
bulletThe University of Michigan needs to release the raw data from it's Dioxin Exposure study to the EPA and MDEQ.  This can be done without revealing the identity of the participants.
bulletThe EPA believes the University of Michigan  has not been cooperating in producing information to the EPA and MDEQ and therefore wants the MDEQ to investigate why.
bulletDow is not meetings it's time lines and needs to be held accountable in order to keep its RCRA license.

Below are a few snippets from the document:

Dow, however, is conducting its remedial investigation of the Saginaw Bay watershed without approved or enforceable compliance schedules in conflict with the terms and conditions of Dow’s RCRA Permit. ... U.S. EPA believes that risks to human health and the environment posed by the contamination of the Saginaw Bay watershed are so significant and widely distributed, that a risk assessment will unlikely provide site specific clean-up criteria that can be directly implemented at this site. ...  U.S. EPA has significant concerns with human health risks associated with dioxin exposure through the food chain pathway, especially for at-risk populations such as pregnant women, children, Native Americans, subsistence and sport hunters and fishermen. At sites as large and complex as the subject site, corrective measure technologies and their scope ... U.S. EPA is concerned that Dow’s ecological risk assessment (ERA) is inconsistent with current Agency guidance and the typically accepted methods for conducting such risk assessments. ... U.S. EPA does not believe that ecological risk has been adequately addressed by Dow in the revised RIWPs. ... This concerns U.S. EPA because it is known that individuals within a population can be adversely impacted by contaminants without observed population-level effects. ...  levels of dioxin and furan contamination in the Saginaw Bay watershed through the timely implementation of Interim Response Actions (IRAs) as required by Dow’s RCRA Permit. ... U.S. EPA believes that hazardous constituents are actively migrating downstream from Dow’s facility into Lake Huron. ...  U.S. EPA does not consider Dow’s description to be complete given the scope of Dow's chemical operations in Midland, Michigan. The limited information provided by Dow to MDEQ in the revised RIWPs is problematic. ... U.S. EPA believes that the record in this matter demonstrates a pattern by Dow of missed deadlines and the submittal of incomplete corrective action documents to MDEQ (see Dow Off-Site Corrective Action Activity Table below). U.S. EPA considers these actions by Dow to be inconsistent with the requirements of Dow’s RCRA License. ... Failure to Report all Environmental Monitoring Data and Improper Application of Confidential Status to Data ...  This ongoing failure to provide data within time frames specified in Dow’s RCRA permit continues despite the fact that Dow was issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) by MDEQ for a similar series of violations on September 19, 2005. ... U.S. EPA also has significant concerns with the agreement between the City of Midland and MDEQ to allow Dow to partially shield corrective action data gathered within the City of Midland from public disclosure. U.S. EPA considers the holding of what would normally be publicly available corrective action data in a confidential manner by a third party not subject to the terms and conditions of Dow’s RCRA License to be inconsistent with the recordkeeping and reporting requirements of Dow’s RCRA License. ... Nowhere within Section II.L (Recordkeeping and Reporting) does Dow’s RCRA License provide for the selective or partial reporting of data by Dow. ...  A fundamental component of the GeoMorph process, as explained by ATS, is real-time remediation. This component of GeoMorph is not being implemented and calls into question the value of the GeoMorph approach when applied at this site. ... U.S. EPA does not agree with the assertion that the GeoMorph process has been fully proven at this site. ...  While Dow has provided a relatively detailed history of Dow's historic chlorine production at Section 3.3.1.1 of the TR RIWP, Dow provides virtually no additional specific information, other than a list of products organized by decade(s), in the revised RIWPs concerning the many hazardous constituents potentially released by Dow to the Saginaw Bay watershed. U.S. EPA does not consider Dow’s description to be complete.  ... constituents from the Dow Corning facility may have potentially affected the distribution of contaminants from Dow’s Midland facility within the Saginaw Bay watershed. ... Dow’s characterization of the hazardous contamination in the Saginaw Bay watershed, therefore, will not be complete without an understanding of the historic operations and waste management practices of the Dow Corning facility whose operations were, and are, intertwined with those of Dow’s Midland facility. ... In 2004, the Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation project conducted by the Battelle Memorial Institute identified silicone compounds in all of the soil samples taken from the TR. U.S. EPA believes the presence of silicones in the soils and sediments of the Saginaw Bay watershed to be unique and, therefore, could be an explanation for the unusual distribution of dioxins and furans in the subject environment.  ...  Dow does not provide a detailed discussion of the 1986 flood event on the Tittabawassee River and the potential release of contaminants to the river during that event. U.S. EPA is concerned with this event because U.S. EPA believes there may have been a release of hazardous constituents from Dow’s wastewater treatment facilities during this time period. If so, a detailed description of such events is warranted. ...  U.S. EPA is particularly concerned with the following PBTs, due to the fact that these chemicals have either: 1) been identified in fish tissue in the Saginaw Bay watershed; 2) are known by-products of one or more chemical production processes identified by Dow in the revised RIWPs as having occurred at its Midland, Michigan facility; and/or 3) U.S. EPA has reason to believe these PBTs may have been produced and released by Dow from its Midland, Michigan facility. ... For example, Dow repeatedly emphasizes that humans are less sensitive than rats to the effects of dioxin. Dow’s assertion ignores the recent paper by K. Nohara et al. (Toxicology 225: 204-213; 2006) which clearly shows that humans are the most sensitive species, as well as earlier work demonstrating that for multiple endpoints, there was similar sensitivity between animals and people. ...  Dow states that there are no studies of the reproductive effects of the PCDFs, which ignores the work of Hamm et al. (Toxicol. Sci. 74:182-191; 2003) showing that the 1998 WHO TEFs did an excellent job (within 2X) of predicting the reproductive effects. ...  Dow ignores some of the recent cancer studies showing that early life exposure may enhance the risk of cancer both in animals and humans (C. LaMartinierre et al. in rats; M. Warner et al. in the Seveso cohort).  ...  U.S. EPA is concerned that Dow may not be using the most appropriate dose metrics, which are very dependent upon response ...  The epidemiological studies of Dow "TCDD" workers used "controls" who were highly exposed to PCDFs (Collins et al, 2005), so it is inappropriate to say that Dow TCP and PCP workers had no increased cancer risk - their exposure was similar to the "controls." ...  Dow has proposed to conduct numerous studies to support a HHRA which could result in a higher clean-up criteria for dioxin than required by Part 201 of Michigan Act 451. U.S. EPA believes most if not all of these studies are unnecessary and will only result in lengthening the time frames for the completion of many of the components of the remedial investigation. ...  U.S. EPA also has significant concerns with human health risks associated with dioxin exposure through the food chain pathway, especially for at-risk populations such as pregnant women, children, subsistence hunters and fishers, and Native Americans ...  However, U.S. EPA has never stated or agreed that the use of PRA methodology for selecting chemical-specific dose-response factors is justified because ...  U.S. EPA does not believe that there is any need for Dow to conduct the extensive and time intensive additional site-specific studies currently grouped under the heading “Exposure Study Plans.” ... For example, a recent Michigan Department of Community Health study has identified potentially at-risk segments of the population in Saginaw and Bay City, Michigan which consume a significant amount of highly contaminated river bottom feeding fish (catfish and carp). Given the significant risks associated with exposure to dioxins, furans and other possible hazardous constituents from eating such fish, Dow’s proposal to continue to study such pathways before initiating any remedial actions is not acceptable. ... Dow’s proposal to undertake an extensive effort to re-evaluate the TEFs is unlikely to have any significant effect on the HHRA. ...  U.S. EPA recommends that MDEQ seek the production of any and all relevant information concerning the nature and extent of dioxin and furan contamination in the Saginaw Bay watershed obtained during or related to the UMDES from the University. ...  U.S. EPA recommends that MDEQ seek the production of information concerning Dow’s funding and contractual control over the UMDES from the University. ...  U.S. EPA recommends that MDEQ incorporate the following compliance schedule into any approval of the revised RIWPs, if Dow fails to timely provide a compliance schedule as required by their RCRA License. ...  U.S. EPA recommends that MDEQ require Dow to provide a separate enforceable IRA compliance schedule to be approved by MDEQ and incorporated into Dow’s RCRA License for addressing the currently identified TR dioxin hot spots. ....

EPA's list of chemicals of concern:

Aldrin/dieldrin

Benzo(a)pyrene {B(a)P}

Chlordane (Dow-Klor and Dowchlor)

DDT (+DDD+DDE)

Hexachlorobenzene (HCB)

Alkyl-lead

Mercury and mercury compounds

Mirex(Hexachloropentadiene)

Octachlorostyrene

Toxaphene

Cadmium and cadmium compounds

1,4-dichlorobenzene

3,3'-dichlorobenzidine

Dinitropyrene

Endrin

Heptachlor (+Heptachlor epoxide)

Hexachlorobutadiene (+Hexachloro-1,3-butadiene)

Hexachlorocyclohexane

4,4'-methylenebis(2-chloroaniline)

Pentachlorobenzene

Pentachlorophenol

Tetrachlorobenzene (1,2,3,4- and 1,2,4,5-)

Tributyl tin

[Plus PAHs as a group, including but not limited to]:

Anthracene

Benzo(a)anthracene

Benzo(g,h,i)perylene

Perylene

Phenanthrene

Click here to view the entire document

 
bullet06/27/07   EPA: Dow Chemical must clean up Tittabawassee Hot Spots Immediately

CHICAGO, June 27 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 today notified Dow Chemical Co. that it must immediately start cleanup of three dioxin-contaminated hot spots downstream of its Midland, Mich., facility on the Tittabawassee River.

The action is being taken using the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 and requires that Dow and EPA negotiate the final terms of three administrative consent orders for the cleanup within 15 days and start field work by August 15.

EPA has documented that dioxin contamination in soil poses risks to human health and the environment. Cleanup must take place in a significant portion of the Upper Tittabawassee River this construction season.

In late November 2006, Dow identified dioxin hot spots along the first six miles of the Tittabawassee River contaminated with levels up to 87,000 parts per trillion, far in excess of state and federal requirements. The areas of concern are subject to flooding and erosion that could spread the contamination.

Dow's corrective action work under its 2003 Michigan Resource Conservation and Recovery Act license has taken too long, prompting EPA to require the following actions.

click here for the rest of the  story  
 
bullet09/06/06 EPA questions applicability of key dioxin study to Michigan cleanup
Lone Tree Council / TRW Dioxin Update
Risk Policy Report

September 5, 2006


EPA Region V is questioning the applicability of a recent landmark dioxin exposure study to a contentious dioxin cleanup near Dow Chemical Co.’s headquarters in Michigan, saying the study did not thoroughly target susceptible subpopulations and is not the type of information that forms the basis of remediation decisions.

 

University of Michigan scientists released preliminary results from the research, The University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study, last month, which showed residents in a dioxin-contaminated area near the Dow facility have higher levels of dioxin in their blood, but the study also found that age, weight and gender more greatly influenced those levels rather than a person’s proximity to the contaminated site.

While the researches did not draw any conclusions about health risks or cleanup policies, one of the authors said the study—which found the highest dioxin blood levels in older, heavier males—would provide “valuable data [to regulators and the community] in determining how best to manage this problem.”

Dow officials, who have long fought both Michigan and EPA proposed cleanup levels and efforts to demand extensive surveys of dioxin contamination stemming from the facility, cited the study as important information to take into account as EPA prepares a cleanup plan for the site. Dow’s Midland, MI, headquarters has dioxin levels as high as 2,000 parts per trillion (ppt), with an average of almost 1,000 ppt at the site. The site spread contamination to the Tittabawassee River, which has deposited contaminated sediments on the shores of the river via frequent flooding and continues to do so. The area along the river has farms and residences, among other uses.

EPA Region V officials, however, are raising a number of questions about the study, noting that its results are preliminary; that it did not specifically target susceptible populations like children, hunters, fishermen and pregnant and nursing women; and that it is not the type of health effects study that could be used to determine health risks from exposure to the contamination.

Moreover, EPA says that because background levels of dioxin—a suspected carcinogen—found in human blood are high enough to pose health risks, the elevated levels found in the study are of concern, since residents near the Dow site had 28 percent higher dioxin levels than the control group. “EPA is concerned about the dioxin blood levels in some local residents,” one Region V source says, since “a number of studies have confirmed a relationship between background levels [of dioxin in humans] and adverse health effects” such as diabetes, endometriosis, thyroid disorders, immune disorders and neurological impairments.

The source also says EPA is concerned about highly exposed subpopulations, like hunters and fishermen, who consume a significant amount of dioxin-contaminated fish and game. “There wasn’t an attempt upfront to include highly exposed groups,” one EPA source says. Another regional source notes that both subsistence fishermen from environmental justice populations along with recreational fishermen and hunters get a significant portion of their protein intake from fish and game in the area, which are likely to be contaminated with dioxin. The first EPA source also notes that the study only evaluated people over age 18, excluding infants, children and pregnant or nursing women, who would be considered at higher risk than the populations studied.

The second EPA source adds that the Michigan study would only be one of many types of information the agency will consider as it develops its cleanup plan, but it will not be a major factor because it does not draw any conclusions about health. To do so, EPA will develop a risk assessment and combine that information with data that are currently being collected and will be collected over the next few years on levels of contamination in the flood plain near the Dow facility.

Dow is currently collecting samples along the first six miles of the Tittabawassee River and will do more sampling over the next several years based on the results of the initial sampling. EPA says its remedial options include removing contaminants if there are “hotspots,” but if contamination is spread evenly, that would make cleanup more difficult.

Remember it is the responsibility of MDEQ and MDCH to act or require interventions and cleanup before health effects occur. That we should  look for dead bodies or disease before we act is irresponsible.

MHR  

 

bullet02/21/06 EPA finds Dow IR Workplans "Critically Deficient"

In a recent memo to the MDEQ states:"...the United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 5 (EPA or the Agency) has conducted a preliminary review of the Tittabawassee River and Floodplain Remedial Investigation Work Plan (T-RIWP) and the Midland Area Soils Remedial Investigation Work Plan (M-RIWP) submitted to Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) by the Dow Chemical Company, Midland, Michigan (Dow) on December 29, 2005. As detailed in the attached comments,the Agency has determined that the T-RIWP and M-RIWP (RIWPs) are critically deficient".

A few excerpts:

bullet

The RIWP deficiencies set forth in EPA’s comments need to be addressed by Dow prior to initiation of a more comprehensive review of these documents.

bullet

Dow’s Human Health Risk Assessment Work Plans are fundamentally flawed, and it would not be a wise or efficient use of either agency’s resources to attempt to approve them with modifications in their current form.

bullet

EPA requests that MDEQ require Dow to promptly address the deficiencies detailed in the attached comments and then require Dow to resubmit amended RIWPs to the State of Michigan no later than sixty (60) days from the date that Dow is provided written notice of the subject deficiencies.

bullet

EPA also requests that MDEQ not approve either RIWP, in full or in part, until all of the requested changes are made by Dow and such changes have been reviewed and approved by MDEQ.

bullet

The sampling protocol set forth in the T-RIWP by Dow to determine the nature and extent of hazardous constituent contamination in the Tittabawassee River (TR) sediments is severely inadequate.

bullet

Existing data is insufficient to support Dow’s conclusion that sediment contaminant concentrations in the TR are random and that no consistently elevated areas of contamination exist within the TR sediments. Dow’s proposal of one sediment sampling location per mile is very likely to be orders-of magnitude greater than the actual distance of spatial correlation.  Consequently, analytical results obtained from sampling locations with a separation of one mile would have a strong tendency to exhibit the unpredictability postulated by Dow.

bullet

EPA does not consider geospatial modeling as an acceptable substitute to an empirical characterization of the nature and extent of contamination. ...  EPA recommends that MDEQ require Dow to implement a significantly more comprehensive and intensive sampling program that will establish the nature and extent of the PCOIs within the TR floodplain.

bullet

Dow’s proposal for three surface water sample locations in the TR to be sampled   during a base flow and flood event is inadequate.

bullet

EPA requests that MDEQ require Dow to undertake the following four sequential steps in order to properly characterize the TR and Floodplain:

  1. Completion of a thorough PCOI study (Principle Contaminants of Interest)

  2. Completion of a thorough geochemical study on all of the identified PCOIs (or all PCOI chemical groupings)      of interest

  3. Completion of a  pilot characterization study to determine horizontal sampling grid interval for both the River  sediments and the floodplain soils
    bullet

    Sampling for both PCOIs and geochemistry should be performed on transects across the river at a minimum of 1/4 mile intervals (approximately 100 transects).

    bullet

    EPA recommends that the sampling locations be gridded on a one hundred (100) foot interval throughout both the floodplain and the River, extending from one side of the one hundred (100) year floodplain to the other.

  4. Completion of a full characterization study including the preparation of depth-based contaminant-concentration contour maps for all identified PCOIs

bullet

EPA recommends that, at a minimum, the final work products of the T-RIWP characterization process include the following:
bullet

90 ppt TEQ boundary line map (vertical and horizontal).

bullet

Depth based concentration contour maps with a 100 ppt TEQ contour line.
bullet

0-6 inch surface TEQ concentration contour map.

bullet

TEQ concentration contour maps for all underlying 1-foot vertical compositing intervals

bullet

Comparable boundary lines and maps should be produced for all other PCOIs.

bullet

Dow’s proposal in the M-RIWP to delay Phase II sampling until 2008 is not acceptable to EPA.

bullet

... this multi-year process of developing, reviewing and approving these risk-based and/or area-wide criteria will preclude a thorough evaluation of the extent and intensity of the D/F contamination within the City of Midland. Such a delay is not acceptable or appropriate in light of the significant potential risks posed by the known hazardous constituent contamination in the City of Midland.

bullet

EPA requests that MDEQ require Dow to include in the M-RIWP’s proposed Phase II sampling plan, soil sampling at the Dow Midland facility.

bullet

The Human Health Risk Assessment Work Plans (HHRAWPs), as proposed by Dow in the RIWPs, do not comply with EPA risk assessment policy and guidance and, therefore, cannot be approved by EPA.
bullet

EPA requests that MDEQ require Dow to identify in the RIWPs the likely and potential specific pathways of human exposure to PCOIs in the Midland soils and TR soils and sediments. Such exposure pathways will likely include direct contact to PCOIs and indirect exposure to PCOIs after fate and transport processes have occurred, e.g. consumption of contaminated fish and/or wildlife. In addition, Dow must identify appropriate high-end receptor populations, such as subsistence fish and wildlife consumers and native American populations.

bullet

Dow should be required to identify the specific data which will be collected and used to support the exposure assessment portion of the HHRAWPs. In addition, Dow should be required to explain how the PCOI concentrations will be incorporated into the HHRAWPs to determine levels of risk and used for comparison to Cleanup Criteria.

bullet

Dow's proposal, in the HHRAWPs, to use probabilistic methods for deriving dose-response parameters for the PCOIs is unacceptable.
bullet

Dow implies that the methodology for applying probabilistic risk assessment (PRA) to dose-response data in HHRAWPs would be straightforward, but this is far from the case.
bullet

For example, Dow does not explain whether the PRA analysis will use human studies in addition to animal bioassay studies. If data from one animal species were to show a clearly defined (and human related) dose-response effect (positive), but the  data from another species did not (negative), it is not clear in the HHRAWPs whether Dow would give the data from the positive species more weight than the data from the negative species, in accordance with EPA policy and guidance.

bullet

EPA does not believe that Dow has proposed an adequate or widely accepted methodology for constructing Probability Distribution Functions (PDFs) for dose-response data. Because the establishment of dose-response data and toxicity factors for chemicals has national implications, EPA cannot approve requested deviations on a site-specific basis. National standards are based upon scientific consensus and are established by EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. Recognition and use of these standards are a necessary prerequisite to national consistency. As a result, EPA, Region 5 cannot approve a PRA which includes probabilistic methods for deriving dose-response parameters.

Click here to view the entire EPA document
 

bullet

EPA comments on Dow preliminary SOW 082603 (pdf)

bullet

EPA objections & comments on draft MDEQ/Dow CACO 110702 (pdf)

bullet

EPA Objections & comments on draft MDEQ/Dow Hazardous Material Waste Management License 100702 (pdf)

bullet8/10/04  EPA stepping in?  New documents indicate unacceptable public health & ecological risks.

A recent EPA memo (7/30/04) to the MDEQ indicates the results of the Dow Wild Game study in the Tittabawassee River Flood plain are much more serious than the Dow Press release indicates.  The EPA goes on to state that they may need "to become engaged in the dioxin contamination problem and to re-enforce existing risks to public health and wildlife".  A summary of the memo was published today in the Midland Daily News.  Highlights of the memo:

bulletThe contamination has similar characteristics regarding levels of risk and area affected as the Kalamazoo and Fox Rivers, which are currently a focus of the US EPA remediation plans.
bulletIt is clear than a persistent, un-addressed dioxin problem exists.
bulletUnacceptable, elevated cancer risk's to public health to frequent consumers of fish.
bulletPotential health risks to persons consuming game.
bulletDioxin contamination of game indicate contamination of the terrestrial food chain
bulletUnacceptable, serious aquatic ecological risks to fish, fish eating birds, and mammals.
bulletStrong consideration should be given to removal of dioxin contaminated  sediments and flood plain soil.
bulletThere is particular concern regarding distortions of risk information which are causing inaccurate risk messages to the public.

Click here to read the EPA memo.

 

4/14/05 Dr Linda Birnbaum: Science Vs Conjecture

Dr. Linda Birnbaum’s presentation to the locals on April 13, 2005  was enlightening to many of 150-200 attendees on both sides of the issue. Overall, the presentation was very useful and we appreciate her efforts to update our community on the latest in dioxin science. However, a portion of the presentation deviated from science and moved into the realm of speculation, adding more questions than answers to an extremely complicated contamination issue.

She confirmed that epidemiological studies of numerous human populations provide the evidence of adverse human effects of dioxin. These effects have been documented in groups (cohorts) ranging from the general population to highly exposed and everywhere in between. Health effects include, but are not limited to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, glucose intolerance, hyperinsulinemaia, hormone disruption, cancer, immune suppression. endometriosis, decreased testosterone, chloracne. Prenatal exposure can lead to developmental problems with the thyroid status, immune status, neurobehavior, cognition, dentition, reproductive effects, altered sex ration and delayed breast development. In other words, the toxicity of dioxin is not in question, it’s a fact based on peer reviewed scientific studies from around the world.

For the most part, Dr. Birnbaum was extremely careful to limit her discussion to her area of expertise as a toxicologist. When asked to provide guidance in areas outside her expertise related to regulation, cleanup, and/or exposure pathways, she did what a good scientist should, cite facts or decline to comment.

However, a major discrepancy developed soon after stating “Dioxin is well absorbed by the GI tract and lungs”. When pressed to comment on whether soil levels of dioxin in our area contribute to our dioxin body burdens, Dr. Birnbaum responded by saying she was not an expert in that field but proceeded to speculate “If I had to put money on it, it’s probably unlikely that your are much more highly exposed than your neighbors who aren’t living in the flood plain.” She followed this statement with the caveat that future studies may prove her wrong.

Unfortunately for the general public, the news media & Dow supporters picked this tidbit of conjecture as the main topic of their coverage, doing the community a further disservice. Perhaps they should give the concept of “Sound Science” something more than lip service.

From the layman’s perspective, ”absorbed by the GI tract and lungs” means that if you breathe or eat it, you absorb it. Flood plain residents are breathing the dust of the contaminated soil and tracking it into our homes 24x7. Has she seen the freshly deposited soil in our yards & vegetation after every flood? Has she driven a lawnmower in the flood plain? Has she seen the dust clouds blowing around after a dry spell? Has she seen our Fish and Wild Game advisories? Why are we told to wear face dust masks when working in our yards, avoid having children play in the soils, and leave clothing worn when working in the yard outside the house? How are we to believe that our soil, flora, and fauna do not contribute to our dioxin body burden beyond that of the general population?

Dr. Birnbaum was unaware of last years MDCH PEI study whose unofficial, preliminary results indicate a large portion of residents tested are accumulating dioxin blood levels much higher than nation averages. In fact, over 60% of the results shared with TRW exceed the 75th percentile and over 60% exceed the top end of the range for people 40-59 years old shown on Dr. Birnbaum’s slide titled “Mean and Range of TEQ’s by Age Group”. Note we are still waiting for the official PEI’s final report. If it should ever be published, these values may change, either up or down.

Dr. Birnbaum stated she is a member of the scientific advisory board for the University of Missouri bioavailabilty study being conducted by Dow. She stated past studies have shown dioxin bioavailablity from soil ranging from 1% to 100% depending upon the makeup of the soil. 100%??? And yet she speculates we do not have any additional exposure from living in the flood plain.

She also stated her concern that the bioavailability study may not be using the right types of soils to represent those found in the Tittabawassee Flood plain. Suggestion: If she is on the advisory board, why not demand the study protocol be adjusted accordingly? Her tone of voice indicated to me that she is dismissing the value of the bioavailabilty study because of it’s design, not the value of the data.

In my opinion, neither the bioavailabiltiy or the U of M Exposure Pathway studies are necessary. They are just another example of paralysis by analysis. We know dioxin is hazardous to humans, that they accumulate in the body, that they take a very long time to dissipate from the body or the soil, the clinical and subclinical effects of dixoin are being detected in the general population of non-contaminated areas, and flood plain residents live every day in close proximity with high levels of dioxin in and about our homes. It does not take a rocket scientist to see that even a little bit extra dioxin in your body is not a good thing in this situation.  The reasonable course of action: take precautions now until the source of the contamination is removed.

So what is the source of the extra dioxin that seems to be prevalent in flood plain resident’s blood? If we get 95% of our dioxin from food like everyone else as Dr. Birnbaum suggests, the remaining 5% could not account for the abnormally high levels in our blood. Where did the rest come from? How did the Tittabawassee fish and floodplain squirrels, turkeys, and deer acquire such elevated dioxin levels? Where did the chicken eggs consumed by river resident’s children acquire the 40 ppt TEQ per egg? The last time I checked, wildlife where not shopping in our local food markets.

How can she speculate that living in areas of highly contaminated soils will have an insignificant effect on our body burdens and also say the Public Health position is: 1) “Current levels in the environment are associated with body burdens in the general population which are at or near the point where effects may be occurring”? and 2) “Continue to reduce sources and Environmental levels” of dioxin.  How can she speculate that living in highly contaminated soils provides an insignificant source of dioxin when the Margin of Exposure for "clearly adverse non-cancer responses" is less than 10?

Public Health should be paramount in this issue in the Tittabawassee watershed.  Speculation and gambling belong in the Mt. Pleasant casino.

Having said all this, we would still like to thank the Lone Tree Council for bringing respected scientist such as Dr. Birnbaum to town. While we did not agree with every thing she said, the vast majority of the information was valuable and the communities understanding of the issues will only improve as they bring in additional speakers in the future.


Click here to download Dr. Birnbaum's power point presentation used at the meeting.

EPA Pollution Progress Reports on Tittabawassee River Cleanup - What's actually been done


11/06/11  EPA and Dow sign agreement to start sediment clean up by Dow Midland Plant

November 2011

EPA and Dow Chemical Co. signed a legal agreement on November 2, 2011 requiring Dow to clean up sediment in Segment 1, a three-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River next to Dow’s Midland Plant. There are six Sediment Management Areas or SMAs identified within Segment 1 where chemical pollutants are targeted for cleanup. Most of the pollution in Segment 1 is from chlorobenzenes and other chemicals rather than dioxin. A form of the contamination, dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL), a heavy liquid made up of materials that do not mix with water and sinks to the bottom of the river, is targeted for cleanup in three of the SMAs. EPA selected its plan after carefully considering public comments. EPA’s cleanup plan for each is as follows.

SMA 1 – Place a clean cap over contaminated sediment to isolate and stabilize the sediment. SMAs 2 and 3 – Remove and treat DNAPL, isolate contaminated sediment with sheet pile and a cap, and capture water within the sediment and treat it. SMAs 4 and 5 – Place a clean cap over contaminated sediment. SMA 6 – Dredge and dispose of sediment contaminated by ethyl parathion; remove and treat DNAPL; isolate remaining contaminated sediment with sheet pile and a cap; and capture water within the sediment and treat it. Materials will be treated and disposed at approved locations, sites will be monitored during and after the cleanup and the cleanup systems will operate and be maintained.

Related Documents at www.epa.gov/region5/cleanup/dowchemical

EPA Proposed Cleanup Plan for Polluted River Section
• Enforcement Action Memorandum w/Responsiveness Summary as Attachment C
• Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Segment 1

"Patti Krause" <krause.patricia@epamail.epa.gov>

07/13/11  EPA/Dow "Early Action" Progress?

Legal Agreement Signed for Early Action at Small Island in the Tittabawassee River

EPA and Dow Chemical Co. signed a legal agreement July 8, 2011, requiring Dow to take early action to limit contaminated sediment from moving downstream from a small island in the Tittabawassee River, known as Island MM. EPA's selected action to control dioxin movement from the island is to remove contaminated sediment, at a minimum that is located above the water surface. The remaining island sediment and nearby underwater areas will be capped. The cap will be designed to let the island restore itself naturally. The work will remove highly contaminated sediment and stop it from moving downstream. Based on public comment, EPA modified its proposed remedy to include a contingency that allows EPA to adjust the amount of sediment removed and the areas capped, based on studies of current conditions. EPA's responses to public comments can be found in the Responsiveness Summary, which is Appendix C to the below document called the Enforcement Action Memorandum.

Related links and documents:
EPA Proposes Cleanup Action for Small Island
Enforcement Action Memorandum, July 2011
Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Removal Action, July 2011

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

West Michigan Park cleanup completed

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

bullet Pollution Report: POLREP #5 (PDF) July 17, 2009
bullet West Michigan Part Exposure Unit 2 web site (a few of the pictures available shown below)
bullet http://www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical/   


 

11/7/08 Riverside Boulevard Cleanup status
The MDEQ meeting 11/7/08 revealed that Riverside Boulevard residents are satisfied with cleanup so far.  This neighborhood is located near the spot where the initial dioxin contamination was revealed to the public back in 2002 after a Lone Tree Council FOIA demonstrated that the former MDEQ administration was covering up the discovery.  View the "Long Shadow" documentary for a close-up of the early days in this saga including interviews with a Riverside resident who regularly consumed contaminated eggs from his free range chickens.

bulletRecent testing evidently confirmed previously reported high levels in the yards, roads, and homes of residents.  In July 2008, the EPA stepped in forced Dow to initiate an immediate cleanup.  River Boulevard is one of the last dirt roads in Saginaw County and provides the only access to the residents homes.  According to the MDEQ, dioxin levels of 10,000 ppt where discovered in the dusty and often muddy road.  The EPA has since paved it as part of the remediation.  This area is prone to repeated flooding, it will be interesting to see how future contamination is handled.
bullet Riverside Neighborhood EPA Pollution Status Report

 

07/24/07  EPA website describes 1200 foot cleanup site- only 114,900 ft to go

https://www.epaosc.net/tittabawasseeDioxinReachD






EPA "Pollution" Progress Reports - status updates of cleanup process

On June 27, 2007, U.S. EPA ordered The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) to negotiate an Administrative Order on Consent, to address removal of extremely elevated levels of dioxin-contaminated sediment within Reach D of the Tittabawassee River near Midland, Michigan.  Dow contractors mobilized to the site on July 9, 2007.  Dow agreed to the terms of the Order and on July 12, 2007, the Order was signed by the Regional Administrator and Dow.

Below are the links to EPA "Pollution" reports which summarize the progress made so far on reach:

bulletReach D

The Site covers the area in the vicinity of, an historic, 1,200 foot-long, water discharge flume containing approximately 15,000 cubic yards of dioxin-contaminated sediment and bottom deposits.  The site is generally bounded by the Dow Revetment Groundwater Interception System (RGIS) sheet piling along the northeast bank of the Tittabawassee River and a line of old sheet piling constructed in the 1930s-1940s and varying from 5 to 40 feet distant from the bank.  The entire removal area is located upstream of the Dow Dam.  The historic water discharge flume was, at one time, connected to an outfall at the Midland Plant
bullet Map of Reach D area
bullet Reach D as of July 19, 2007
bullet Reach D as of July 27, 2007
bullet Reach D as of August 6, 2007
bullet Reach D as of August 10, 2007
bullet Reach D as of September 12, 2007
bullet Reach D as of September 20, 2007
bullet Reach D as of September 28, 2007
bulletReach D as of October 5, 2007
bulletReach D as of October 12, 2007
bullet Reach D as of October 29, 2007
bulletReach D as of October 20, 2008
 

bulletReach J-K

The Site is located in over-bank areas on the northeast side of the Tittabawassee River, approximately 3.6 miles downstream of the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers and located within The Dow property bounded to the northeast by a wetland with Saginaw Road to the northeast beyond the wetland, the Caldwell boat launch to the South, and to the west by the east channel bank of the Tittabawassee River, in Midland County, Michigan.

The Site includes two areas of focus.  The first consists of buried, post-industrial deposits immediately adjacent to the River and extending at least 75 feet inland, near the southern end of Reach J and extending through the southern end of Reach K (the “Levee Area”).  The second area consists of high and low terraces, and includes wetlands, that occupy most of the Reach J/K over-bank area and are subject to sediment deposition during flood conditions.
bullet Map of Reach J-K area
bullet Reach J-K as of August 10, 2007
bullet Reach J-K as of September 2, 2007
bullet Reach J-K as of September 13, 2007
bullet Reach J-K as of September21, 2007
Remedial action includes the planting of over 400 trees.
bullet Reach J-K as of September28, 2007

 

bulletReach O

The Site known as “Reach O of the Tittabawassee River Superfund Site,” is an approximately 1,300 foot-long point bar extending approximately 50 to 100 feet into the Tittabawassee River and situated parallel to the northeast bank of the Tittabawassee River, approximately 6.1 miles downstream of the confluence of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers and located within, or immediately adjacent to, the Dow Chemical Company property located to the south of North Saginaw Road and to the west of North Orr Road, in Midland County, Michigan.
 
bullet Map of Reach O area
bullet Reach O as of  September 2, 2007
bullet Reach O as of September 13, 2007
bullet Reach O as of September 21, 2007
bullet Reach O as of September 28, 2007
bulletReach O as of October 4, 2007
bulletReach O as of October 10, 2007
bullet Reach O as of October 24, 2007
 

bullet Riverside Neighborhood

EU001 is a residential cleanup of dioxin contamination located in Saginaw, Saginaw County, Michigan.  See Polrep 1 for more details.

Set up for the soil removal activities began in August and consisted of: building a staging area for personnel and equipment, road building within staging area and creation of access points through pre-existing berm to staging area, the placement of landscape fabric and stone under crawlspaces and decks to minimize human exposure to contaminants, and creating permanent floors in outdoor sheds.

Removal activities of contaminated soil began on September 2, 2008.  Pre-excavation activities on these properties include moving of outdoor personal property to the staging area and the removal of trees and brush.  During removal activities, crews removed 2 feet of contaminated soil in residential areas and 1 foot of soil from the “transition zones” (non-residential).  After the removal of soil was complete, crews placed landscape fabric as a demarcation layer, backfilled with clean fill and topsoil and prepared the area for landscaping and sod placement.   All removal activities of contaminated soil were completed on October 8, 2008.  
 

EPA Pollution Progress Reports on Saginaw River Dredging

EPA "Pollution" Progress Reports - status updates of cleanup process
Barge in place to begin dredging

 

Late on Friday, November 9, 2007, Dow notified U.S. EPA that preliminary data for a sediment sample collected from within the channel of the Saginaw River was in excess of 1.6 parts per million (ppm) Dioxin TEQ.  This is the highest TEQ analytical result recorded for either the Tittabawassee or Saginaw Rivers.  On November 11, 2007, U.S. EPA issued a verbal General Notice Letter of Potential Liability to Dow.On the Saginaw River looking towards Wickes Park. This is where the new dioxin hot spot was found.

 



Below are the links to EPA "Pollution" reports which summarize the progress made so far :

bulletAs of December 10, 2007
bulletComplete - December 19, 2007

 

 

EPA Dioxin reassessment

bulletStatus: 02/01/12  EPA fails to meet Dioxin Reassessment deadline again after 27 years of Dow influence

Lone Tree Council

P.O. 1251, Bay City, Michigan 48706

(Fighting for environmental justice since 1978)

February 1, 2012

For Immediate Release

 

Contact: Michelle Hurd Riddick - Lone Tree Council 989-327-0854

Terry Miller - Lone Tree Council Chair 989-450-8097

Tracey Easthope MPH - Ecology Center 734-369-9268

 

Toxic Dioxin – Public Health Advocates, Environmentalists Condemn Failure to Release Dioxin Health Report

 

Michigan Left in the Dark about Dioxin’s Toxicity as EPA’s Voice Remains Silent

 

Advocates Urge EPA to Immediately Release Dioxin Health Report, Decry 27 Years of Delays Due to Dow Chemical’s Influence

 

(Mid Michigan) For twenty-seven years dioxin impacted communities, like Saginaw, Bay City and Midland have waited for EPA to articulate the science findings on the toxicity of dioxin. Today, Lone Tree Council and the Ecology Center denounce the US Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to once again release their report on the non-cancer impacts of dioxin. In August of 2011 EPA committed to a January 31st deadline.

 

The failure to finalize any portion of the report represents a political, moral and ethical failure. Dioxin has become the textbook example of how industry can successfully delay science-based progress on toxic chemicals in this country.

 

“Since the mid 1980’s when the Reagan administration permitted Dow Chemical to rewrite the EPA report on dioxin, administration after administration in the White House has cowed to this company and their lobbyists”, said Michelle Hurd Riddick of the Lone Tree Council. “Public health is being sacrificed, our water resources disregarded and science is being ignored once again in an effort to placate the moneyed interest. It is indefensible that this administration capitulated to industry, reaffirming the belief of most Americans that corporations have greater influence and more control and rights than people”, says Hurd Riddick.

 

In recent months, consistent with history, the chemical industry has been working behind closed doors to conceal hide and distort the truth about the dangers of dioxin. At the same time, Vietnam Veterans, breast cancer advocates, public health organizations, and environmental justice leaders have stood shoulder to shoulder and urged EPA to do what’s right for the health of American children and families. Over the past three weeks a broad coalition of organizations have written to EPA.

 

Cancer, diabetes, infertility, learning disabilities and other chronic diseases linked to dioxin exposure are extremely costly to American taxpayers in terms of health, quality of life and regional economic development. EPA missed yet another deadline to release their report on dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet.

 

Tracey Easthope MPH, "Finalizing this study matters to people in Michigan. We are home to one of the largest dioxin contamination sites in the country. People have been living with this chemical in their bodies, in their food supply, and in their homes for decades.”

“This report is a great example of why people are so angry and frustrated by the influence of powerful interests that trample the public interest. How is it possible for industry to delay the release of a report for 27 years? How can a system become this dysfunctional”? said Ms Easthope of the Ann Arbor based Ecology Center.

 

 

According to EPA, dioxin releases increased by 18% from 2009-2010 nationally. Dioxin air releases increased by 10%. Dioxin’s effects on the immune system of the developing organism appear to be among the most sensitive endpoints studied.

 

 

Terry Miller, Lone Tree Council chairman is calling on the administration to support EPA’s scientific findings and release the non-cancer portion of the report as promised. “The failure of EPA to publicly affirm their science, to find their voice on the toxicity of dioxin, is an abysmal failure of public health policy “, said Miller.” How many more years will Dow Chemical and industry lobbyists be permitted to frame the issue and science on dioxin”?

 

 

Joining the Dow Chemical lobby, in anticipation of the release by EPA, the corporate agriculture industry circled their wagons, creating the Food Industry Dioxin Working Group (FIDWG) to lobby against the EPA release. The FIWG member organizations:

 

American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Frozen Food Institute
American Meat Institute
Corn Refiners Association
International Dairy Foods Association
National Chicken Council
National Grain & Feed Association
National Meat Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Renderers Association
National Turkey Federation
Pet Food Institute
United Egg Producers

 

Timeline of current EPA activities, courtesy of CHEJ, can be found at www.cleanwatershedcampaign.org.

 
bulletStatus January 15, 2012: Dioxin Reassessment under attack by American Chemistry Council and other trade associations
bulletLone Tree Council/TRW letter to Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator asking Reassessment not be delayed
bullet Letter To Lisa Jackson
 
bulletStatus 08/29/11EPA: Dioxin Assessment  non-cancer portion released end of 2012, who knows when cancer portion will be complete

Release date: 08/29/2011

Contact Information: Latisha Petteway (News Media Only), petteway.latisha@epa.gov , 202-564-3191, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON - The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it plans to complete the non-cancer portion of EPA’s Reanalysis of Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments, and post the final non-cancer assessment to the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) by the end of January 2012. After completing the non-cancer portion, EPA will finalize the cancer portion of the dioxin reanalysis as quickly as possible.

The decision to split the dioxin assessment into two portions, one being the cancer assessment and the other being the non-cancer assessment, follows the release by the Science Advisory Board (SAB) of its final review report of EPA’s Reanalysis of Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments on August 26, 2011. This reanalysis report responded to the recommendations and comments included in the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) 2006 review of EPA's 2003 draft dioxin assessment.

The SAB report indicates that EPA selected the most appropriate scientific studies to support the non-cancer health assessment and the oral reference dose derived in the draft assessment. The SAB also commended EPA for a clear and logical reanalysis document that responded to many of the recommendations offered previously by the NAS. Specifically, the SAB acknowledged that the process the agency used to identify, review and evaluate the scientific literature was both comprehensive and rigorous, and the SAB report noted that "the criteria for study selection have been clearly articulated, well justified, and applied in a scientifically sound manner."

Dioxins are toxic chemicals that share a similar chemical structure and act through a similar mechanism. While dioxin levels in the environment have been declining since the early seventies, dioxins remain a concern because they will continue to enter the food chain through releases from soils and sediments, and they have been the subject of a number of federal and state regulations and cleanup actions.

More information on dioxin: http://www.epa.gov/dioxin/

More information on IRIS: http://www.epa.gov/IRIS/

More information on the SAB Report: http://yosemite.epa.gov/sab/sabproduct.nsf/WebReportsLastMonthBOARD/9DE6A0825A9C050F85257412005EA22A?OpenDocument&TableRow=2.3#2

bulletStatus July 16, 2010 EPA unlikely to meet December 2010 deadline

'Unlikely' To Meet Deadline, EPA Urges Narrow SAB Review Of Dioxin Study

From  "Inside EPA" website, posted: July 14, 2010
 
EPA is urging a Science Advisory Board (SAB) panel reviewing the agency's re-assessment of dioxin to focus on the core risk assessment document, not related risk and regulatory documents, saying the agency has been working on the measure for decades and is “really unlikely” to meet Administrator Lisa Jackson's December 2010 deadline for completing the measure.
 
Peter Preuss, director of EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment, urged the panel in July 13 comments to help agency staff quickly complete the long-delayed assessment, by focusing on recommendations the agency could complete in a reasonable amount of time.
 
“Our goal is simple. We’d like to finish this document,” Preuss said. “Twenty-one years ought to be enough gestation time to finish just about anything.”
 
But a speedy panel review may be unlikely as the agency's draft document is already drawing significant concerns from industry and others (see related story).
 
The SAB panel is meeting July 13-15 to review EPA’s response to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review of its 2003 draft assessment of 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) -- the most toxic form of the ubiquitous class of chemicals and the basis for estimating risks of mixtures of dioxins and related compounds at contaminated sites. The NAS in 2006 suggested several changes EPA needed to make to its 2003 assessment.
 
The SAB panel meeting is the first of two meetings the panel will hold as it conducts its review of the document, which includes newly calculated cancer and non-cancer risk estimates for TCDD, released in May.
 
Jackson in a May 2009 letter to community activists said the agency’s “goal is to issue a final dioxin assessment by the end of 2010." But Preuss, who oversees the center that crafts assessments for the agency’s key Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) database, told the SAB panel that the agency “is really unlikely” to meet Jackson's goal “unless SAB sends a one-page letter” saying that the dioxin document does not require any changes.
 
Dioxin is a ubiquitous contaminant produced from combustion and other industrial processes. It is persistant and exists in fatty foods, such as meat and dairy products. The agency published its current IRIS assessment of dioxin in 1985, and began reassessing the risks of TCDD in 1990. But the reassessment has faced numerous delays and reviews.
 
In his remarks, Preuss urged the panel to separate any long-term recommendations from those short-term suggestions needed to finalize the document, noting that that “many things” are awaiting the outcome of the assessment, including regulations and site cleanup decisions.
 
Jackson’s broader dioxin plan includes two other related documents: a set of cleanup targets, known as preliminary remediation goals (PRGs), which were to be published before the agency finalizes the TCDD assessment, and used until that time. The agency has yet to finalize those preliminary numbers, with industry complaining bitterly about the confusion that interim numbers could present.
 
EPA also released last fall a document adopting a set of World Health Organization factors, known as toxicity equivalency factors, or TEFs, which are used to estimate the potency of mixtures of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds relative to TCDD.
 
But Preuss urged the panel to focus its energy on the TCDD assessment itself, and not get bogged down in discussions of the related documents. “You’re likely to hear about TEFs and PRGs [in the public comments],” Preuss said, “but they are not part of our document.”
 
Industry toxicologists and consultants, disagreed, however, arguing that many of the studies on which EPA based its assessment include exposures to mixtures of dioxins -- not TCDD alone. As a result, the board needs to consider the effects of these confounding exposures on the data, they argued.
Related News: Toxics
1824881
bulletStatus May 21, 2010 EPA Dioxin Reassessment moving forward after decades of delay?

WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reached a significant milestone toward the completion of the agency’s dioxin reassessment with the public release of its draft scientific report, EPA’s Reanalysis of Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments. The draft dioxin report is EPA’s response to key comments and recommendations made by the National Academy of Sciences on the agency’s draft dioxin reassessment. EPA is moving forward with Administrator Lisa P. Jackson’s commitment to complete the long-awaited dioxin reassessment. This comprehensive human health and exposure risk assessment on dioxin, one of the most toxic environmental contaminants, aims to protect the health of the American public. The draft report will now undergo scientific peer review by independent, external experts as well as public review and comment.

bullet Full EPA Press release
bullet EPA Reanalysis of Key Issues website
bullet

EPA's reanalysis of key issues related to dioxin toxicity and response to NAS comments (691 page pdf)
 

From the EPA web site National Center for Environmental Assessment:

EPA Action
Scientists in EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment are currently working on a comprehensive reassessment of dioxin exposure and human health effects. The latest draft assessment, Exposure and Human Health Reassessment of 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-Dioxin (TCDD) and Related Compounds posted in Dec 2003, is still undergoing revisions in light of the review by the National Academy of Sciences(NAS) in November 2004. A Workshop in Feb 2008 was held to discuss EPA's response to the NAS reports.

History
bulletSep 1985 EPA released the Health Assessment Document for Polychlorinated Dibenzo-P-Dioxins report.
bulletJun-Aug 1994 EPA released the draft documents: Health Assessment Document for 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-P-Dioxin (TCDD) and Related Compounds Volume (1 of 3) , Volume (2 of 3), and Volume (3 of 3)
bulletSep 1994 EPA launched the Dioxin Exposure Initiative, a research program to further evaluate the exposure of Americans to this class of compounds.
bulletSep 1995 EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) released the report, A Second Look at Dioxin. (PDF, 129 pp., 330,353 bytes)
bulletJul 2000 EPA released the consolidated comments from the Peer Review of the Draft Dioxin Reassessment
bulletMay 2001 EPA's SAB released the Dioxin Reassessment - An SAB Review of the Office of Research and Development's Reassessment of Dioxin. (PDF, 80 pp., 188,323 bytes)
bulletOct 2003 EPA requested the NAS Review Draft of the Dioxin Assessment with updates on the Questions and Answers about Dioxin.
bulletOct 2004 EPA released the NAS External Review Draft of the Dioxin Assessment, in preparation for the first NAS panel meeting (held 11/22 -23/2004), in Wash., DC. This is still the most current version of the EPA Dioxin Assessment.
bulletJul 2006 NAS released Health Risks from Dioxin and Related Compounds: Evaluation of the EPA Reassessment.
bulletSep 2008 The Interagency Dioxin Workgroup released an update to the Questions and Answers about Dioxin 2008 .
bulletNov 2008 EPA released a preliminary search list to address EPA's Reponses to the NAS comments on the 2003 Dioxin Reassessment report.
bulletFeb 2009 EPA hosted a 3-day public, scientific workshop to assist EPA in responding to the NAS reports on Dioxin. [ Workshop Announcement and details]
bulletMay 2009 EPA released the 2009 Science Plan for activities related to Dioxins in the environment.
bulletJun 2009 EPA released the Dioxin Workshop Summary report containing discussions and conclusions from the Feb 18-20, 2009 workshop held in Cincinnati, Ohio.
bulletSep 2009 EPA released the University of Michigan study of dioxin exposures in Midland, Michigan.
bulletDec 2009 EPA released the Review of State Soil Cleanup Levels for Dioxin.
bulletMay 2010 EPA released EPA’s Reanalysis of Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments under the IRIS process, which includes the release of the interagency comments and pre-release drafts.
bullet

STATUS March 11, 2009.  Environmental Protection Agency said this week that it will try to speed the release of its reassessment of dioxin, a chemical that has contaminated Michigan’s largest watershed. “The new administration is familiar with the history of this issue and will be focusing on expediting the study,” EPA spokeswoman Suzanne Ackerman said this week.

“We’re pleased to hear EPA plans to expedite the study,” said Mike Schrade of the Virginia-based Center for Health, Environment and Justice, which together with 100 other groups sent a letter to the Obama administration in late January asking that the dioxin reassessment be released.

Click here for the complete article
 

bullet

DRAFT Dioxin Reassessment Report 0402 (pdf)

bullet

STATUS October 5, 2007.  EPA is poised to issue a plan detailing how the agency will address recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) for improving its risk assessment of dioxin, a move that will provide a long-awaited guide on the agency's future efforts but could prolong uncertainty over how to regulate the ubiquitous contaminant.  Although the plan for responding to NAS will be released in approximately a month, an agency source says EPA may not have a revised risk assessment available for peer review for up to two years, and may not ultimately develop a full toxicological profile for dioxin because the agency's current responsibility "is to respond to NAS."  The source says developing a profile for the Integrated Risk Information System (IRIS) -- which contains agency risk data used by state and federal officials to set health and cleanup standards -- would be the "logical next step" after preparing the response, but internal discussions of the agency's long-term dioxin efforts remain unsettled.  In July 2006 NAS released its highly critical report -- Health Risks from Dioxin and Related Compounds: Evaluation of the EPA Reassessment -- finding among other things that EPA's 2003 draft risk assessment did not adequately characterize the uncertainties associated with different approaches to dioxin's cancer risks..snip.. Activists and public health advocates have long been critical of the pace of EPA's dioxin efforts, which began in 1991 with an agency announcement that it would proceed with an initial draft reassessment. In the intervening years the substance has generated significant controversy, including an industry push earlier this year for the Supreme Court to review whether EPA cleanup orders at an Arkansas site contaminated with dioxin were unlawful because of the lack of clarity over the substance's risk level. The delay on dioxin has meant significant uncertainty for cleanup officials, including at sites such as the Dow Chemical Company headquarters in Midland, MI, where activists for a number of years have demanded action. Nevertheless, EPA is only now coming around to responding to the NAS critique, the agency source says, adding that limited resources may have contributed to the delay. "There have been all these big IRIS assessments" -- such as trichloroethylene and perchlorate, in addition to dioxin -- "and for all these highly visible chemicals, there's just a finite number of people to work on them," the source says..snip.. The source adds that the response may be made available for peer review only in pieces and will likely not be available in any form for at least a year. "Some NAS questions will be pretty hard to answer," the source says, because the critique "was a prescription for a lot more work." The source says EPA is now looking for individuals within and especially outside the agency who can assist with different parts of the response because of their expertise in a given field. "We're sitting down and deciding what parts to bite off and deal with," the source says, adding that the work plan is "a month away." Gathering needed outside expert assistance will likely prolong the effort, the source says, because of the time involved with going through the grant-making and contracting process. -- Adam Sarvana. Source InsideEPA.com, visit for all the details.

bullet

STATUS: November 2004. A White House science official in a surprise move announced plans to release a report on dioxin in an apparent attempt to show administration progress on monitoring and controlling for the highly controversial pollutant. But the move has already drawn protests from environmentalists who say development of the report will likely further delay release of EPA’s dioxin risk review, which has been 13 years in the making. ... But an environmentalist at the meeting dismisses the value of the new report in assessing public health risks from dioxin. "This [progress report] is largely a public relations exercise that mirrors the industry line about declining industrial emissions" even though EPA’s own findings show that current body burdens may pose public health risks that require more immediate action, the source says. ... The environmentalist says EPA’s inability to release its dioxin risk review, which has undergone numerous scientific peer reviews, has prevented a host of state and local governments from taking action on contamination that continues to pose threats to their residents. "Local governments lack the resources to carry out this kind of risk assessment and are waiting for this to be completed before they can start cleanups. But now it looks like it will be at least another two years before it is finalized," the source says

Click here for the entire story.

bullet

STATUS: October 2004 Dioxin Reassessment report. The USEPA has updated the dioxin reassessment report and sent its most recent draft to the National Academy of Sciences for their review.  This draft is dated December 2003 and was sent to the NAS in October 2004.  The entire report has been updated including the sources section (Part I), the health effects section (Part II) and the risk characterization (Part III).  The complete updated draft report can be found at:   http://www.epa.gov/ncea/pdfs/dioxin/nas-review/ .  Source: www.chej.org

bullet

STATUS:  July 2004 Dioxin Reassessment report. The release of the U.S. EPA’s Dioxin Reassessment Report, a study on the sources and health risks of our exposure to dioxin that has been 16 years in the making, continues to be delayed for an indefinite period of time.  An Interagency Working Group (IWG) reviewed the dioxin reassessment report in 2003, communicating a level of concern to EPA that triggered a request for the National Academy of Sciences to conduct another review of the science.   The IWG is co-chaired by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA), agencies that have an overriding interest in minimizing the economic impact of dioxin regulation on the cattle, dairy and other food industries.  Inside sources have revealed to CHEJ that although the funding has not yet been given to the National Academy for its review, HHS and USDA have finally settled on their charge to the committee:  to find anything that is not perfect about the draft reassessment!  This fishing expedition is just one more piece of evidence that the Administration’s over-riding concern is to keep this potentially explosive report sitting safely on a shelf until well after the November elections – in fact, for as long after that as possible.  Source: www.chej.org

bullet

October 2003: Dioxin reassessment status

STATUS: On October 29, 2003, the Interagency Working Group on Dioxin (IWG) officially requested that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) review EPA’s draft dioxin reassessment. The statement of work to the NAS was also transmitted on October 29th. The review by the NAS is expected to take approximately 15 months. At the time that the NAS review of the draft dioxin reassessment commences, EPA plans to make available on this website the version of the dioxin reassessment that is undergoing NAS review.
bulletOctober 2003: EPA Statement of Work (SOW) Assessment of the Health Implications of exposure to dioxins
bulletOctober 2003: EPA efforts to reduce the public's exposure to dioxin risks
bullet

April 2003: USDA concerns over EPA dioxin study may prompt narrow NAS review

bullet

January 2003: Dioxin reassessment status

STATUS: EPA has completed revision of the draft reassessment in response to SAB and public comments.The draft reassessment has also completed final internal EPA review. The next step for the draft reassessments a review by the Interagency Working Group on Dioxin (IWG). The Dioxin IWG is convened under the auspices of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and is made up of federal agencies that address issues related to health, food, and the environment. These agencies are working together to ensure an integrated federal approach to dioxin related issues.

Because the Agency is committed to ensuring that the reassessment has a strong scientific foundation, EPA will seek the recommendation of the IWG regarding the need and benefit of further review of the reassessment by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). EPA recognizes that in situations such as this, where our own SAB was unable to reach consensus on key scientific issues of importance to other federal agencies, it is often appropriate for the NAS to provide additional review of those issues. Therefore, if recommended by the IWG, the Agency will send the draft reassessment to the NAS for further review and analysis.

bullet

EPA Dioxin reassessment website

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