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E-M:/ The Dow Chemical Co. and MDEQ

Communication plan might change

Kathie Marchlewski, Midland Daily News 08/26/2005
After months of meetings on the topic of public communication, The Dow Chemical Co. and MDEQ have received a clear message, though it isn't what they expected and they're not sure it will work.
As a decade or longer of dioxin remediation moves forward in the Saginaw Valley, the two had planned to select a Tri-County panel of representatives to offer input on the process. But just about everybody they asked, even those with polar-opposite views on the dioxin situation, agreed that a formal committee is a bad idea -- that meetings should be conducted in a town hall-style format, with any and all invited to participate.
In upcoming weeks, Dow and the DEQ will meet to redesign their plan, taking the public comment into consideration. "Clearly the CAC is not what the residents wanted," DEQ spokesman Bob McCann said. "We're going to have to sit down and discuss where we're going to go from here."
Orchestrated by Dow and DEQ, residents of the Saginaw Bay Watershed have been invited to dozens of meetings to discuss, debate and wrangle over a " public participation process". The results of these meetings has been a resounding rejection of the DOW DEQ Community Advisory Council model; a select group of 20 or so people chosen by another group of people not yet identified. Essentially a committee to select a committee. Time and again, Dow and DEQ have been told that the communities favor a town hall forum. I think it fair to suggest that Dow and DEQ wanted badly to avoid a town hall format on this very contentious issue surrounding Dow's dioxin contamination of Michigan's largest watershed. I would further suggest the residents of the watershed have spoken and DEQ, not Dow, has a responsibility to abide by our wishes. Yet Dow and DEQ want to sit down in private and discuss where to go next. For the two entities, with the greatest concentration of power over this issue,  where "to go from here" should be a no brainer.
In an open transparent democratic society this is not a tough issue. We'll see.
We have spent 8 months talking about public participation. We are four years into this contamination issue. Time to talk about substantive issues.
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council