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E-M:/ Dioxin levels puzzling

Dioxin levels puzzling


M. Pam Horner couldn't help but scratch her head.

New tests showed that dioxin levels had spiked 21 times higher than anything she had seen previously along the Saginaw River.

Horner, a physical scientist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, confirmed this month that sediment samples taken in the navigable channel of the upper Saginaw River this year are sound.


DEQ spokeswoman Patricia Spitzley declined to speculate on what caused the dioxin peaks or who is to blame. She said simply that the results confirm a need for further study.

"Anytime we see a high level, that is an issue of concern," she said. "It highlights a need for additional sampling and investigation."

EPA officials blame the contamination on Dow. In a letter to the corps, they said dioxin in the Saginaw River is linked largely to the Midland plant.

Not so fast, said Dow spokesman John Musser.

"There are several rivers that feed into the Saginaw River. The Tittabawassee is one of those," Musser said. "On each of those other rivers, we have levels of historic contamination caused by municipal waste treatment, agricultural runoff or other industrial operations.



In this story DEQ declined to speculate on who was to blame and Dow Chemical contends that other rivers are a source of dioxin to the Saginaw River. Both DEQ and Dow know the congener profile (fingerprint) is a mix of dioxin and furans which match those found in the Tittabawassee River. These PCDD / PCDF concentrations found in both the Saginaw River and the Tittabawassee River are a result of the mixture of  chlorophenol and other chlorinated compounds produced at Dow Chemical in Midland. For DEQ to shy away from identifying the responsible party while permitting Dow Chemical to continually attribute these dioxins to other sources is a disservice to the residents of this watershed.

Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council