A recent forum piece by Dr.
Richard Reitz, former toxicologist for Dow Chemical, suggested that the
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) has failed to use science
to guide our decisions concerning the cleanup of historic dioxin
contamination in the Midland area. This
assertion is false, and with the great deal of progress we have made over the
past year to move this process forward, it is disappointing to see these
misleading statements made.
MDEQ, along with our partners at the Michigan Department of Community Health
(MDCH), have a clear goal in mind: Protecting the environment and the public
health of those affected by dioxin contamination. Our combined efforts are
the work of some of the top scientists and health experts in the state, all
of whom have dedicated their careers to serving the people of Michigan. To suggest
that they have used anything but the highest degree of scientific review to
guide their work simply demonstrates a lack of understanding as to how our
agencies fulfill our commitment to the public.
Reitz makes a number of misstatements throughout his article, all of which
have been refuted by many people time and again, but which warrant additional
response here. First, he states that soil samples that have been taken
throughout the area have shown inconsistent results, causing us to simply
make assumptions on the area of contamination. This is simply not true.
results from sampling done along the Tittabawassee River
have consistently shown elevated levels of dioxin within the March 2004
floodplain area. Dow has acknowledged this in their recently submitted
remedial investigation work plans that specifically state, "Éthese
results suggest that the 8-year flood boundary may be a good predictor of
whether or not TEQ (dioxin & furans concentrations) will fall below 90
parts-per-trillion." This does not suggest that there are not elevated
levels of dioxin outside of the floodplain area, however, it clearly shows
that existing data provides the basis to make a consistent and reasonable
estimate of the scope of contamination.