June 7, 2004
Michelle Hurd-Riddick 989-799-3313
Marcia Woodman 989-695-5693
Curt Dalton 201-5539 (pager)
Ward Hodge 989-495-9203
River residents demand their own meeting with the Governor
Residents living in the most contaminated regions of mid-Michigan called on the Governor to meet with them in response to recent attempts by some state representatives to weaken the state's dioxin standard.
"We are outraged by these attempts to weaken our cleanup laws, and to dismantle the Agency that is supposed to protect our health. We actually have to live amid the dioxin contamination, and wear masks when we mow our lawn. Our children are threatened by playing in our backyards. We demand that the state officials protect our health, as they are sworn to," said Marcia Woodman, nurse and mother of three.
This past weekend, Republican representatives from the Midland area met with Governor Granholm to press their case to weaken state cleanup standards, thus potentially exposing all Michigan residents to higher levels of dioxin. River residents, represented by the Tittabawassee River Watch and the Lone Tree Council, and residents from area Townships and the City of Midland sent a letter to the Governor today asking for equal time to discuss the need for the state to uphold its cleanup standards in the face of pressure from Dow Chemical and some legislators to put citizens at risk.
The groups highlighted the overwhelming number of scientific studies that demonstrate that dioxin is a serious health hazard. They also highlighted the misuse of science by Dow Chemical and elected representatives who receive major campaign contributions from Dow. At issue is a state cleanup standard that is set in order to prevent health impacts. Elected representatives from the Midland region are suggesting that harm must be demonstrated before cleanup should take place. They are further arguing that cleanup standards should be set at a level where health effects might be seen.
"Setting cleanup standards at a level where there may be harm defies all of the principles of public health protection that are the basis of our environmental and public health laws. This is a terrible precedent and should not stand," said Michelle Hurd-Riddick of the Lone Tree Council. "The whole point of our environmental laws is to PROTECT public health."
"We have a vision of our community where children can play safely, and residents can grow food in their garden, and we don't have to worry about mowing our lawn or swimming in the river. Our vision is one where our community prospers and the future continues to be bright. To realize this vision, we need to get this issue behind us, and finally clean up this mess," said Betty Damore of James Township.
"Dow is flexing its political muscle and throwing money around so they don't have to clean up their mess. If we make environmental laws based on the wishes of big polluters, no community and no cleanup efforts are safe," said Curt Dalton, a former recreational user of the Tittabawassee River.
Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives voted to cut the DEQ's budget, eliminate an entire program, and cut the Director's salary in retaliation for the DEQ doing their job and defending the laws of the state.
"This is a desperate strategy and a shameful one. This is corrupt politics at its worst,,” said Ward Hodge, a Midland resident. "These lawmakers are big recipients of political contributions from Dow and the chemical industry. They are working for Dow instead of the citizens of the State of Michigan. If the legislature doesn't stand up to these tactics, Michigan will become the new capital of hazardous wastes. That could be the biggest threat to the economic health of the state yet.”