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E-M:/ RE: / Commendation to Pine River Superfund Citizens Task Force

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.  
-----Original Message-----
From: owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net [mailto:owner-enviro-mich@great-lakes.net]On Behalf Of Rita Jack
Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2002 1:49 PM
To: enviro-mich@great-lakes.net
Subject: E-M:/ Commendation to Pine River Superfund Citizens Task Force


Sierra Club Water Sentinels Project Commends Pine River Superfund Citizens Task Force


The Pine River Superfund Citizens Task Force works on issues related to the Pine River in Gratiot County, where it winds through Alma and St. Louis, Michigan.  The Pine River is contaminated with DDT, PBBs, petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, and various other chemicals after decades of discharges by chemical plants, oil refineries, and other businesses. 


The Pine River Superfund Citizens Task Force should be commended for their community commitment.  I’ve worked with the group since September, and am amazed at their level of dedication.  Every third Wednesday of the month, 40 to 70 people come to learn about the progress of the cleanup of the Velsicol Chemical Superfund site, about the petroleum hydrocarbon contamination at the Total Refinery site in Alma, and about the Smith Farm site in St. Louis.  The members have reclaimed the river for recreation by securing funds to build a fishing platform in St. Louis.  Though the fishing must for now remain catch and release, the community gains back the river as a living resource.  Several members with training in the sciences participate in the Technical Advisory Committee.  They give a substantial amount of time to review every report and work plan by the consultants and the agencies, and greatly contribute to the understanding of the problems in the Pine River watershed.  They are the ultimate community watchdogs for contamination and related human-health issues.  Several Task Force members have also assisted with Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels Project, and have learned to do water quality monitoring using aquatic insects.


The group has been so successful that they have been touted as an example of how Superfund citizen groups can function, and have been invited to other cities with Superfund Sites.  And now they have been a driving force to help secure over $60 million from the companies responsible for the contamination to help clean up the Velsicol Chemical site and to restore the Pine River. 


The enduring enthusiasm of the Pine River Superfund Citizens Task Force continues to inspire us in our project on the river, and I’m glad to be associated with them. 


Rita Jack

Water Sentinels Project

Sierra Club Mackinac Chapter

Lansing, MI 48906