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E-M:/ Dow dioxin spills

Enviro-Mich message from pirgim1@juno.com (Brian M Imus)

The members of Dow Dioxin Watch -- PIRGIM, LoneTree Council, Ecology
Center, and Environmental Health Watch -- put out the following news
release yesterday about the spilled waste the DEQ found in a raid on Dow
on Friday, Nov. 13.  Our news release follows up on last week's story
about the spills by the Midland paper, which did not mention that the
spills were of waste that was tested as having high concentrations of

News Release			News Release		News

For immediate release					Contact: 
Diane Hebert,
Terry Miller, 517-759-3413	
T-Pond Wastes Released by Dow Are Heavily Contaminated 
With Dioxins

After Raid by the DEQ, Dow Denies The Danger

	The wastes Dow reportedly has spilled onto the ground and into
the air for the past 18 months contain high concentrations of dioxins,
according to a DEQ Order issued last Thursday.  The November 21 Order
also requires Dow to quarantine the area around the spills.

	Dioxins are among the most potent toxicants known to science.

	The quarantine order follows the DEQ’s execution of a criminal
search warrant at the Dow Midland facility on November 13.  The DEQ
obtained the search warrant after a tip from an employee of Radian,
International--the contractor operating Dow’s T-pond solids management
project--that a faulty valve at the plant was releasing dried T-pond
solids contaminated with dioxins onto the ground and into the air.  Dow’s
treatment ponds (“T-ponds”) contain 500,000 cubic yards of solids that
must be removed and disposed of by May 31, 2000.

	The DEQ raided the Dow Midland facility on Friday, Nov. 13,
without warning and discovered dried solids several inches thick on the
ground and in roadways, and a valve in a pipe that carries T-pond waste
sealed with nothing more than duct tape.  The DEQ also took samples of
the material and impounded files from the Dow facility.

	“We are shocked at the carelessness and indifference that allowed
these dangerous spills to occur for the past 18 months,” said Diane
Hebert, chair of the Midland-based Environmental Health Watch and
spokesperson for Dow Dioxin Watch.  “Dow’s negligence has endangered our
community’s health.”

	According to the DEQ Order:

· The T-pond solids transported through the leaky pipe valve “are a
listed hazardous waste . . .”  Order,  2.6.
· The T-pond sludges contain dioxins and furans measured at toxic
equivalency concentrations ranging from 7 to 152 parts per billion (ppb).
 Order,  2.8.  

· “Dioxins and furans are chemicals of concern because they are
persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic at very low concentrations.” 
Order,  2.8.  The state cleanup standard for these substances is less
than 1 ppb.  Order,  2.8.

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· The faulty pipe valve is sealed with only duct tape, resulting in the
leaks of contaminated material.  Order,  2.11.

· Since May of 1997, dust from dried T-pond waste was reported to be
released into the air and onto the ground on a number of occasions.  
Order  2.9.  The DEQ observed “several inches accumulation of T-Pond
solids dust in the vicinity of the 23 Building, including along the road,
where the dust was easily transported beyond the local vicinity by
vehicular traffic.”  Order,  2.12.
· Due to the dangers the spills pose to human health, the DEQ ordered Dow
to “quarantine and otherwise restrict access to the T-Pond Solids
Management Project Area and any roads passing through the area . . .” 
Order,  4.2(a).

	“There can be no doubt that the material that spewed from the
valve in that pipe was dried T-pond solids,” said Terry Miller, chair of
the LoneTree Council and a Dow Dioxin Watch spokesperson, “and we know
from earlier DEQ and Dow sampling that those solids are highly
contaminated with dioxins.   That’s why Dow piped them to the incinerator
in the first place:  under federal law, they were too hazardous to
dispose of in a hazardous waste landfill.”

	Dow’s public reaction has been to misrepresent the seriousness of
the spills’ threat to public health, including a claim that the spilled
substance contained merely sand and dead microbes.  Dow never revealed
the presence of dioxins in the materials.

	“Dow’s public statements last week about the extent of the
problem and the hazards posed by it were completely misleading,” said
Tracey Easthope of the Environmental Health Project of the Ann Arbor
Ecology Center and a member of Dow Dioxin Watch.  “Dow has a duty to
inform the public of the truth, and the public has a right to know all
the facts.”

	“I don’t know which is more appalling, Dow’s careless ongoing
release of dioxin contaminated waste or Dow’s willful attempts to mislead
the public about those spills,” Hebert said.

	“Dow has endangered us with its careless releases of dioxin,”
said PIRGIM’s Brian Imus, also a member of Dow Dioxin Watch.   “And Dow
continues to endanger us with its misinformation about those releases. 
We call on Dow to stop its releases of both:  the dioxin, and the

	Copies of the November 21 DEQ Order are available from PIRGIM
upon request.  For a copy, please call 734-662-6597.

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