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Re: E-M:/ Dow is Busted on butadiene release

Enviro-Mich message from hstokes@geocities.com (Harold Stokes)


Thanks a lot for your communication.  Unfortunately, this is not unique to
Dow Chemical, but is occuring throughout the world to the detriment of
society.  It describes very well the need for people and organizations in
the United States and nations throughout the world to get together to
correct the wrongs of transnational corporations and the very rich to
extract the most from society and the Earth while disregarding the affect
that it has on others and the future.

After a great deal of effort and time we occasionally win a battle when we
take on a misdeed or misdeeds of individual corporations.  When it happens
we feel great, but we are loosing the war.  The rich keep extracting more
and more at the expense of us, other species, the Earth's resources and the
future of life on Earth.  Ronnie Dugger, Co-Chair of the Alliance for
Democracy, in an article in The Nation magazine of August 1995 stated: "The
big corporations and the centimillionaires and billionaires have taken
daily control of our work, our pay, our housing, our health, our pension
funds, our bank and savings deposits, our public lands, our airwaves, our
elections and our very government...  The law of life among us now is what
Jefferson called 'the general prey of the rich on the poor.'  The moment is
dangerous.  Democracy is not guaranted God's protection; systems and
nations end.  If we do anthing serious now we might make things worse; if
we do nothing serious now we are done for."

Until we put a stop to the rich's insatiable greed and domination of most
aspects of our lives, things will continue to get much worse than they are
now.  Winning the war to stop the destruction of our common home will not
be easy.  It will take a lot of time and effort.  Are conditions and
prospects bad enough for us to commit our precious life energies to the
struggle?   Postponing the answer to the question will very likely
intensify the struggle and suffering that will take place.  Let's add our
strength to those who have already taken on the task!


p.s.  I have taken up this response with Ronnie Dugger and Ann Hunt, former
Executive Secretarty of Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical
Contamination.  Dugger helped with my wording and Annie chose to also
address the issue.

Her response follows:

>Thanks for the opportunity to add my 2¢ worth...  I think that you have hit
>the overarching nail on the head -- addressing the causes of such lengthy
>"agreements" with pittances for consequences.  In the "moral world," not
>only would Dow not have allowed conditions to exist that would permit a
>leak of this magnitude, but they would have been certain that emergency
>response offices in all the surrounding counties were equiped with state of
>the art communications and response equipment.  Sadly, the opposite is the
>fact.  A certain amount of leaks are not only the cost of doing business,
>they are tolerated by our state and federal environmental laws that don't
>require notification unless a leak is of a certain size or duration.  Leaks
>lasting less than 2 minutes are routine incidents that often occur in the
>wee hours of the morning.  Timing is everything!  You should also know that
>while there are sirens in some of the areas close to the plant, there are
>not in others that also could be affected.  The most recent major leaks
>this year drifted into areas that did not have such warning systems in
>place (talk to Diane Hébert about this!)  Also, the Dow plant is located at
>the extreme southeastern corner of Midland County, and prevailing winds
>routinely come from northwest to southeast.  Consequently the leak of
>airborne toxins would most likely drift into Bay and Saginaw county
>residential areas, not into the City of Midland.
>Although these are specifics instead of general comments, I still think
>that they should be added to the record...


>Enviro-Mich message from asagady@sojourn.com
>Look how long it took to settle this violation!!!!
>And "supplemental environmental projects" allow companies to turn
>their violation penalties into PR expenditures!!!
>Alex Sagady
>Legal Contact: Sean Mulroney
>                                                   (312) 886-7150
>                                     Technical Contact: James Entzminger
>                                                   (312) 886-4062
>                                            Media Contact: Mick Hans
>                                                   (312) 353-5050
>            For Immediate Release: December 1, 1997
>            No. 97-OPA325
>            U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region has recently
>            signed an agreement with Dow Chemical Co. (Midland, MI) for
>            violation of Federal laws on the reporting of a hazardous chemical
>            release. The company will pay a $24,760 fine and complete a
>            supplemental environmental project that enhances the county
>            government's emergency response capabilities.
>            EPA's complaint alleges that on August 24, 1994, plant management
>            at Dow's 1261 Building failed to promptly notify the National
>            Response Center, Michigan State Emergency Response Commission,
>            and Midland County Emergency Planning Committee of a 232 lb
>            release of 1,3-butadiene. Federal laws require immediate
>            upon any release exceeding 10 lb of 1,3-butadiene.
>            The release occurred when a process-line flange developed a leak
>            after maintenance operations. Once the leak point was identified,
>            Dow's in-house maintenance team immediately repaired the flange.
>            1,3-butadiene is a colorless gas, with a mild gasoline-like
>odor, used
>            in the production of rubber and plastics. Exposure to it may cause
>            irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat. Exposure to very high
>levels in
>            a short period can cause central nervous system damage, blurred
>            vision, nausea, fatigue, headache, decreased blood pressure, and
>            unconsciousness. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and
>            Health has said that 1,3-butadiene is a potential carcinogen.
>            The environmental project requires the company to purchase and
>            donate new telecommunications equipment for Midland County's
>            emergency command vehicle. The vehicle is used by the Department
>            of Emergency Services for communications and coordination for all
>            types of incidents within the County. Cost of the project: at least
>            $10,240.
>            Since 1989, EPA Region 5 has filed 149 separate complaints for
>            hazardous chemical reporting violations, resulting in 135
>            and $3.79 million in total fines and $1.39 million in environmental
>            projects.
>                                     ###
>Alex J. Sagady & Associates        Email:  asagady@sojourn.com
>Environmental Consulting and Database Systems
>PO Box 39  East Lansing, MI  48826-0039
>(517) 332-6971 (voice); (517) 332-8987 (fax)

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