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E-M:/ Dioxin cover-up



Title: Dioxin cover-up





                                News Release




For Immediate Release

Contact: Dave Dempsey (517) 487 9539
or Diane Herbert (989) 832-1694



 Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Community Health Are Attempting to Suppress Vital Scientific Information about Dioxin Levels in Midland.


(
January 22, 2002-Lansing, MI)  A Freedom of Information Act request has uncovered documents that show that Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality's Director (DEQ), Russ Harding and James Haveman, Director of the Department of Community Health (MDCH), are attempting to withhold key draft recommendations made by the federal Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry (ATSDR).  The ATSDR public health assessment was conducted last year at the request of environmentalists concerned about the levels of dioxin released by the Dow Chemical Company plant in Midland, MI.

According to Dave Dempsey, of the Michigan Environmental Council (MEC), he has also received documents that indicate that Director Harding has "personally intervened" to override the recommendations of his own staff scientists as well in order to weaken the state's dioxin standard.

" Director Harding is seeking to ignore the preponderance of scientific evidence which is driving the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to toughen standards to protect the public from dioxin in order to benefit Dow Chemical Company" says Dempsey. The Ecology Center's Director of Environmental Health, Tracey Easthope argues that "Harding's actions on this matter are a betrayal of the public trust."

The MEC along with the Ecology Center, the Lone Tree Council, and Environmental Health Watch warn that Harding's Meeting today (January 22, 2002) with James Haveman, Director of the Department of Community Health, (DCH) is a further attempt to suppress the recommendations of the (ATSDR).

The organizations are calling on Harding and Haveman to use today's meeting to demonstrate a new commitment to the people of Midland and the state by responding to the recommendations of DEQ staff scientists, and to the weight of scientific evidence. They are asking them to tighten dioxin standards in accordance with scientific evidence and:

Release the staff recommendations made in the ATSDR assessments of health risks in Midland.

Act on the recommendations in accordance with the duty of public health protection.

Cease to interfere with efforts to sample areas downstream of the Dow Midland facility to determine dioxin levels.

Refrain from weakening dioxin cleanup standards to benefit a corporation rather than the public that you are sworn to protect.

Directors Harding and Haveman are being urged to take these actions in order to help restore public confidence in their agencies.

The Michigan Environmental Council, based in Lansing, is a statewide coalition of over 50 environmental, public health, and faith-based organizations working together to protect the environment. Based in Ann Arbor, the Ecology Center is a regional, environmental organization which works for clean air, safe water and environmental justice. The Lone Tree Council of Bay City works for the environmental quality of the Saginaw Bay watershed. Environmental Health Watch is a community-based group in Midland, MI.

####

-- 
Gregory Button, Ph.D.
Communications Director
The Ecology Center
117 N. Division
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3186 x 113
(734) 663-2414 (fax)