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E-M:/ Citizens Demand Right to Be Heard in Dow Sweetheart Deal
- Subject: E-M:/ Citizens Demand Right to Be Heard in Dow Sweetheart Deal
- From: Tracey Easthope <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 2 Dec 2002 13:43:27 -0500
- Delivered-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Delivered-To: email@example.com
- List-Name: Enviro-Mich
- Reply-To: Tracey Easthope <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Title: Citizens Demand Right to Be Heard in Dow Sweetheart
Embargoed until 10:30 am, December
Citizens Demand Right to Be Heard In
Proposed "Sweetheart Deal" for Dow
Coalition Petitions State Agency to Intervene In Permit Process,
Demands Additional Time for Input on Dioxin Contamination
Residents living in dioxin-contaminated areas were joined by
leading environmental organizations in the state today in petitioning
the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), demanding the
right to intervene in a proposed decision that could relieve Dow
Chemical Company of responsibility for comprehensive cleanup, and
expose Michigan residents to future health risks.
The DEQ's proposal comes in the form of a
consent order with Dow reached in the waning days of the Engler
Administration that would raise legally acceptable dioxin standards
beyond those called for by scientists and public health experts.
The order is on a fast track to be completed before the new
Administration takes office. The DEQ proposal is being made in
connection with contamination of the city of Midland, and a 22-mile
area downriver from Dow Chemical along the Tittabawassee River.
Residents and environmentalists filed a petition
Monday under the provisions of the Natural Resources and Environmental
Protection Act seeking to intervene in the order, and for a delay in
the decision until the DEQ weighed evidence opposing a change in the
standard. In the petition, the groups argued that the
consent order's proposed interim dioxin standard was developed using
unapproved methods resulting in a standard almost ten times higher
than the current statewide standard, threatening Michigan's
environment and the public health.
In a separate letter to
the DEQ, the coalition asked for an extension of the public comment
period on the license and corrective action plan because the notices
and hearing violated state requirements. The coalition requested
the extension in order to give citizens a chance to present extensive
technical documentation challenging the proposed agreement.
"In the face of mounting
scientific evidence confirming the grave risks posed to human health
by dioxin, the State's DEQ has shunned the advice of its own experts
and turned the cleanup process over to Dow and its consultants,"
said Michelle Hurd Riddick of Lone Tree Council, and a petitioner.
"Now only concerned citizens stand between DEQ's
insider agreement and an increased risk of immune system problems,
developmental delays, cancer, birth defects, neurological impairments,
and other harm that can result from exposure to dioxin," said
Diane Hebert, a Midland resident and petitioner.
The proposed deal
between Dow and the DEQ would eliminate the current standard for
dioxin at the site, and create a new, less protective standard for
cleanup of the extensive dioxin contamination in Midland. This
weaker standard could ultimately become the statewide standard. Under
the agreement, soil levels of dioxin, one of the most toxic substances
known to science, could be almost ten times higher than the current
state cleanup standard without cleanup being required. Such an
agreement could save Dow millions of dollars in cleanup costs while
exposing the public and local citizens to unacceptable risks and
setting a dangerous precedent.
Environmental Protection Agency, and Michigan Department of
Community Health documentation unearthed by the citizen coalition
shows that DEQ officials waived the typical decision-making procedures
to allow environmental consultants, including one working for Dow, to
write a new dioxin cleanup standard based on scientific and
statistical analyses that have not yet been generally
believe this illegal consent order is just the first step in Dow's
plan to manipulate the process to get out of their obligation to clean
up their mess, and protect public health," said John Taylor,
Chair of Tittabawassee River Watch.
DEQ residential cleanup standard for dioxin in soils is 90 parts per
trillion. If the state were to use the latest
peer-reviewed scientific studies, according to one Department of
Community Health document, the new standard could be as low as 12 to
of the Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act authorizes
agencies or courts to allow any person to intervene in administrative
proceedings that may result in harm to the environment.
Groups filing the petition are: Lone Tree Council,
Tittabawassee River Watch, Ecology Center, Michigan Environmental
Council, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Public
Interest Research Group in Michigan (PIRGIM). In addition, 15
residents of Midland or the contaminated downriver floodplain joined
in the action. Petitioners are represented by the Traverse
City firm Olson and Bzdok.
http://www.ecocenter.org. To learn more
about Tittabawassee River Watch, see http//:www.trwnews.org.
Michelle Hurd Riddick, Lone Tree
Council - 989-799-3313
Terry Miller, Lone Tree Council
Dave Dempsey, Michigan Environmental
Council - 517-487-9539
Tracey Easthope, Ecology Center,
734-663-2400 x 109
John Taylor, Tittabawassee River
Diane Hebert, Environmental Health
Watch - 989 832-1694