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E-M:/ citizens reject dow-sponsored dioxin study

Enviro-Mich message from "Dave Dempsey" <davemec@voyager.net>

For Immediate Release
October 4, 2002
Contact: Michelle Hurd Riddick, 989-799-3313
Terry Miller, 989-686-6386

Citizens Reject Polluter-Sponsored Study,
Call for Health Protection, Independent Review of Dioxin
in Midland, Saginaw Counties

Citizens affected by dioxin contamination in Saginaw County, joined by
environmental organizations, have rejected a study of health impacts
proposed by Dow Chemical Company and proposed an alternative, independent
review and immediate public health protection.

In a letter to the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
(ATSDR) and the Michigan Departments of Community Health and Environmental
Quality, the citizens argued that the study is premature, since the
government agencies are in the middle of a process initiated by citizen
petition to determine the extent and severity of the contamination. Further,
they argued, the chemical company was not an appropriate initiator of a
health study into contamination it likely caused.

Signing the letter were citizens living in the contaminated floodplain of
the Saginaw River as well as representatives of the Lone Tree Council,
Ecology Center, and Michigan Environmental Council.

“Dow Chemical is not a neutral party in any health study occasioned by their
dioxin-discharging practices over the years,” the citizens wrote.  “If
history is any guide, the company can be expected to take every step
possible to reduce or eliminate their liability, to downplay the threat, to
delay action and to influence politicians and agency heads towards that

Instead of a polluter-sponsored study, citizens called for government
agencies to take the lead in helping citizens avoid further exposure to
dioxin in the area.  If necessary, a study should only follow a full
characterization of dioxin contamination, helping determine who and what
should be studied, they said.

First discovered in the spring of 2000, dioxin contamination along the
Tittabawassee River in Shiawassee County downstream of Dow Chemical has
ranged as high as 80 times the state cleanup standard. Soils on at least one
residential property and in public parks have yielded high levels of dioxin,
one of the most toxic substances known to science. In addition to causing
cancer, dioxin has been linked to neurological, immunological and
reproductive health effects as well as birth defects and diabetes.

Despite the finding of dioxin more than two and a half years ago not far
from residential areas, the first government advice about limiting dioxin
exposure was not issued until late summer of 2002, angering residents who
believe the state has been protecting Dow rather than their health.

“The government dioxin investigation and response has lost all credibility
with the affected community,” said Mary Whitney, a local resident.  “It’s
time to end the cover-up and stalling and listen to what the people most
affected want and are asking for.”

Citizens said the ATSDR and state health agency should immediately convene
citizens to review sampling thus far and recommend further sampling, review
data on other exposure pathways and recommend further work, help develop
recommendations to reduce exposures, both in the near and long term, explore
the merits of an exposure study for local residents, and explore the merits
of developing a health registry for local residents.

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