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E-M:/ Midland & Downriver awareness & information

Enviro-Mich message from "Donna K. Mallonee" <mallonee@msu.edu>

The purpose of this message is to raise awareness of the Midland & downriver
situation with the goal of bringing (apparently needed) public support to
work toward a resolution.  There is a meeting in Midland on Monday, June
10th from 7-9pm at Midland High School (corner of Eastlawn & Washington, off
Saginaw Road).  The newspaper says it is a "public availability session".

Dow does not acknowledge that there is a problem.  They acknowledge the
contamination, but insist that it is not a problem.  I suggest we support
the state in conducting an assessment so that we can find out.

Speaking out on this issue is NOT a popular thing to do in Midland.  The
MDEQ efforts are regarded by many to be a waste of money.  Contrast this to
the recent discovery of contamination in St. Clair Shores where residents
quickly came together to address a problem.  Dioxin is not our only problem.
It may not even be at the top of the list.  We have work to do here, but
first we need to get past this BRICK WALL of denial.

>From my perspective, public knowledge and support are needed to get this
addressed.  No one wants a financial crisis -- that will only take away jobs
& pensions -- but denial isn't the answer either.

Some Background Facts:

- Dow Chemical has manufactured a variety of products in Midland for 100+
years.  The manufacturing site is roughly in the southeast area of the city.

- One of the byproducts of the manufacturing and waste incineration is

- There is a family of chemicals which make up what we refer to as "dioxin".
The most deadly of which is 2,3,7,8-TCDD.  Furans are also a toxic

- The American public may have been most dramatically introduced to this
substances as a result of the Vietnam War.  Dioxin is the component of
"Agent Orange" which appears to cause disease.

- Dow manufactured Agent Orange in Midland.  That manufacturing facility has
since been razed.

- Dioxin is a carcinogen, but may also cause other effects at lower levels.
In the class action settlement for Vietnam veterans, the court said,
"Phenoxy herbicides such as Agents Orange, White, Pink and Green are growth
regulators that kill certain plants by inducing malfunctions in the growth
process."  In re "Agent Orange" Product Liability Litigation, 597 F.Supp.
740, 776 (E.D. NY. 1984).

- There are 2 incinerators on the Dow site which are in use and current
sources of dioxin contamination.  There is other manufacturing also on-site.
I do not know the output of dioxin released from current manufacturing.

- There appears to be support in the scientific community (World Health
Organization and possibly others) that the dioxin contamination results in
this pattern:  1) an elevated level of all cancers in the population, 2) an
increased number of incidents of soft-tissue sarcoma (cancer of the fat and
connective tissues), 3) non-hodgkins lymphoma, 4) lung cancer.

- The Veterans Administration and the Institute of Internal Medicine appear
to recognize the relationship between certain cancers or birth defects and
dioxin.  Veterans of the Vietnam war are given benefits for the above, as
well as other cancers, such as prostate and multiple myeloma, which are
reported to be elevated in populations exposed to dioxin.

- In 2001, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) agreed to
perform a Health Consultation for Midland, Michigan and the Tittabawassee
river area due to concerns by petitioners (the Michigan Environmental
Council and a Midland resident).

- A state epidemiologist reviewed the incidents of certain cancers for
Midland residents in 2001 as part of a permit process for Dow's
incinerators.  The study looked at 2 Midland Zip Codes.  The results
(roughly) were that we were statistically significant for all cancers
combined.  There was evidence that we have elevated levels of certain
cancers, such as soft-tissue sarcoma, prostate and lung.  The review only
included a few cancers -- not all of the cancers which the VA would
associate with Agent Orange exposure.

- This level of assessment has not yet been performed for the downriver &
downwind communities along the Tittabawassee River.  The river communities
are a concern as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ)
obtained shoreline samples of over 7,000 parts per trillion (ppt).

- Midland soils have been tested several times for dioxin contamination.
The numbers range from 0 to over 1,000 ppt in the community.  Dow's
Corporate center, which is 2 miles north of the manufacturing area, was used
as a surrogate for the community in 1998.  It ranged from 0 - 598 ppt.  This
is a concern to me since the prevailing winds are north and northwest.  One
might expect the more contaminated areas to be to the east and southeast --
toward our downriver communities.  At least one area east of the plant (a
haul route for trucks taking dioxin to a landfill) measured over 2,000 ppt.
More testing may be needed.

- Our state residential standard is 90 ppt.  That is, above 90 ppt, cleanup
may be imposed.  The federal action level is officially 1000 ppt, though a
health screening is done if a community is over 50 ppt as part of this
Health Consultation process.  Also, Love Canal, Syntex site, and Hyde Park
soils were "capped" by the EPA at 50 ppt.  A community in Florida was
recently evacuated at soil levels of 200 ppt.  Another community near St.
Louis, Missouri was evacuated at 1,000 ppt some years ago.

- Dow has been working with the MDEQ to rectify the situation in Midland.
It has been handled completely separately from the downriver incident
(Midland has been more on-going.  The discovery in Saginaw is more recent).
The MDEQ apparently advised Dow that they would need to bring the area
around the incinerator under 1,400 ppt.  They were apparently able to do
this just by remediating the Dow plant site (which had measured over 17,000
ppt) and grassways on the trucking route.  No plans were made or announced
for the community.  Rather, Dow conducted a study and recently determined
that dioxin is safe to the Midland community to a level of ~1,500 ppt.  As I
understand the documents, the focus was soil only -- there is no accounting
for the amount in the air or other pathways.  There is no accounting for
other chemical contamination.

- The Tittabawassee River waters ultimately flow into Saginaw Bay.

- Bringing the Midland levels to more "normal" state levels (the average in
Michigan from background testing by the MDEQ is ~6 ppt) or even to the 90
ppt level is a monumental task.  Worse, there are downriver communities
which may need immediate assistance and Midland may not be the first
priority.  However, to simply say it is not a problem and then not address
it leaves the unknowning person to purchase land and raise a family in an
area of contamination.  The damage may cause a variety of effects to that
family which may be passed on to future generations.  In addition, doesn't a
standard of 1,500 permit incremental polluting?  In the end, we all pay for

- A comprehensive plan is needed.  It may include special training for
medical professionals to recognize symptoms.  It may mean playground cleanup
as an interim step and making clean soil available to families who live in
contaminated areas.  It may mean accelerating the building of new
incinerators.  It may mean a lot of things.  If we can acknowledge the
problem, the next step, I hope, will be a set of potential effective
solutions which will be economically feasible.

- This is a large problem.  It is also global.  It has existed in Midland
for at least 20 years.  I believe the cleanup is slow in coming largely
because the problem is so complex and expensive.  However, resolution is
needed.  It may come in small pieces or phases.  It is time to get started.
It has to start with support.


Donna K. Mallonee

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