For Immediate Release
December 27, 2004
Contacts: James Clift (517) 256-0553
Terry Miller (989) 686-6386
Groups Challenge Granholm On Dioxin Cleanup Goals
/Urge ‘Secret’ Dow Talks Toward Successful Finish/
Community residents and state and local environmentalists today released
a seven-point set of dioxin cleanup guidelines for the Midland-Saginaw
Bay area, urging the Granholm administration to successfully conclude
still-secret talks with Dow Chemical Company over the fate of the
Tittabawassee and Saginaw River watersheds.
"This situation has gone on long enough," said Michelle Hurd Riddick, a
Midland area resident and Lone Tree Council member. "The recent
disclosure confirming highly elevated levels of dioxin contamination
along the Saginaw River must be taken by the Granholm administration and
public health officials as clear indication of the need to require Dow
to move swiftly to remove dioxin contaminated soils and sediments from
our communities. The guidelines we are releasing today outline what
community residents believe an acceptable cleanup plan should address."
Although the cleanup guidelines are targeted at the Saginaw Bay
watershed, the same questions need to asked about rivers throughout the
state, said James Clift, Policy Director of the Michigan Environmental
“We want to know when Michigan’s citizens are going to get to swim and
fish safely again in the Kalamazoo, Rouge or Grand rivers. We refuse to
accept that the state is turning its back, that the day we can safely
use Michigan’s rivers is gone forever,” said Clift.
Closed negotiations between Michigan and Dow Chemical Company regarding
the cleanup of the deadly poison dioxin were slated to conclude October
31st,but have dragged on an additional two months. The Michigan
Environmental Council, the Lone Tree Council, Sierra Club, Ecology
Center, Clean Water Action, Tittabawassee River Watch, Citizens Against
Toxic Chemicals, and Environmental Health Watch released today’s dioxin
cleanup guidelines in anticipation that the results of the negotiations
will be announced soon.
“Residents of my community just want to know that the contaminated soils
and sediments are going to be removed from the rivers, the riverbanks
and their yards, and put somewhere we know they are going to be safe and
not re-released into our community,” said Terry Miller, a resident of
Bay City, also from the Lone Tree Council.
Michigan law contains a dioxin standard of 90 parts per trillion as the
benchmark for protecting families’ health in a residential setting.
Environmentalists and local residents are concerned about Dow’s attempts
to avoid cleaning up dioxin to that standard and the subsequent impact
on public health.
The eight groups released the following guidelines that will be used to
evaluate any proposed cleanup plan coming out of the Granholm-Dow
1) Will the final goal of any cleanup result in rivers that we can swim
and fish in, that we know are safe as drinking water sources?
2) Will the public have a strong, direct role in ensuring that a
comprehensive cleanup is undertaken?
3) Will the cleanup begin immediately? Are the most contaminated areas
that affect public health and Michigan’s waters being cleaned up first?
What is the specific cleanup schedule?
4) Will the current lawful cleanup standard of 90 parts per trillion be
used? If not, what scientific basis exists for using a standard less
5) Will contaminated soils and sediments be removed using methods,
procedures and containment sites that ensure dioxin poisons will not be
reintroduced into our neighborhoods by the next major flood event?
6) Will the dioxin cleanup agreement be legally enforceable? What, if
any, impact will it have on other existing cleanup agreements between
Dow and the state? What are the consequences if Dow or the state fail to
comply with the agreement?
7) Will the cleanup agreement protect economic growth, public enjoyment
and sustainable development along the riverfront into the future? Or is
it a short-term fix that leaves pollution behind for future generations
to deal with?
Clean Water Action
Clean Water Fund
517-203-0754 East Lansing