Rita, thanks for this message and CONGRATULATIONS to all of you. As a Midland resident watching this Tittabawassee tragedy unfold, I am beginning to understand how much effort and energy this must have taken.
Since you all are experienced, I wonder if you could give us Midlanders a hand over here? (I don't mean applause. I mean help!)
You may have noticed that Midland has a bit of a problem with chemical contamination. The infamous one is dioxin which is measurable in our soil, fish and probably elsewhere. It has also become measurable for our neighbors downriver (if not downwind). A Health Consultation has been drafted for us (Thanks to the Petitioners!). A public meeting was scheduled in May, but was not held. A new session has now been scheduled. Here is the information:
Monday, June 10th, from 7:00pm - 9:00pm at Midland High School. (corner of Eastlawn & Washington, off Saginaw Road). The newspaper says it is a "public availability session".
I wonder if some of you might be able to attend. I would like to meet you, hear your comments, and get your thoughts. Maybe we could talk in more detail after the session ...
By way of an update, you may know that Midland was tested for dioxin contamination in the '80s and '90s. Dow has cleaned up at least some of the plant site (which was ~17,000 ppt) to bring a circular area around the incinerator to 1,400 ppt. Some of the cleanup occurred in grassy areas near roadways on the east side of the plant where the levels were over 2,000 ppt due to the trucking of wastes. There are no known plans to cleanup in the community where the levels range from 0 to 1,000+ ppt.
Dow submitted comments to the Michigan Superfund rules to relieve 'excessive conservatism' from the state standards. As I understand it, this 'relief' would have moved the state criterion from 90 ppt to 150 ppt. The state average for background testing is about 6.3 ppt.
Yesterday, through a FOIA request, I received a copy of Dow's proposed "Site-Specific Residential Soil Criterion For Midland, Michigan under Part 201, Section 20120(a)(2) of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act (NREPA) 1994 PA 451, as amended". Punchline: the proposed soil criteria for Midland is 1.48 ppb (1,480 ppt).
The cover letter to the MDEQ says (in part):
"This report indicates that a soil criterion of 1.48 ug/kg (ppb) would correspond to the 95th percentile of safety using accepted Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) risk assessment methods, exposure assumptions, and site-specific information for residents in Midland, Michigan ... [T]he proposed site-specific soil criterion of 1.48 ug/kg is protective of cancer and any non-cancer health effects associate with potential PCDD/Fs exposure in Midland, Michigan. This value is also in the range of national EPA and ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) action levels of 1ppb.
An abstract of this study entitled 'Derivation of Site-Specific Soil Criteria for Dioxins and Furans' was presented at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting held March 11-14, 2002. The abstract generated interest and positive comments indicating the study was well received. In addition, a manuscript of this assessment is currently being prepared for submission to a peer-review journal."
Enough is enough. Cleanup is expensive. There is only so much funding and the test results are likely to call for more immediate response downriver. BUT we need public awareness and self-protection programs. We need a phased cleanup/zoning plan that will ultimately result in a SAFE community for EVERYONE with APPROPRIATE warnings and safeguards -- NOT false reassurances. NOT an agreement to live at levels that were questionable even 20 years ago.