1251, Bay City, Michigan 48706
(Fighting for environmental justice
SEPTEMBER 19, 2006
Terry Miller (989) 686-6386
Pat Bradt (
Dow Chemical Company plans
to send dioxin from a toxic contamination site to a planned dredged
materials storage facility alongside the Saginaw River that is not
designed as a toxic waste disposal, according to Environmental
Protection Agency documents made public through the Freedom of
The documents show the
Army Corps of Engineers has, discussed the plan with Dow without
public scrutiny or input. The dredge facility, under construction in
Zilwaukee and Frankenlust townships, is designed to store less
contaminated sediments removed for navigational purposes. It is NOT
designed to contain the highly dioxin-contaminated materials that Dow
eventually must be removed from the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw
River and Saginaw Bay.
?Toxic sludge should be
disposed of in a licensed hazardous waste facility,? said Lone Tree
Council Chairman Terry Miller. ?Transferring it from the river
bottom to the floodplain wouldn?t be a cleanup at all, but simply a
rearranging of toxic sediment in a different part of the watershed.
The idea that Dow is considering this, and that government regulators
aren?t rejecting it out of hand, is outrageous.?
The documents were from
the files of the Environmental Protection Agency?s Region V
headquarter in Chicago, and obtained by the Lone Tree Council after a
They verify that Dow has
negotiated with the Army Corps over plans to use the facility for
toxic disposal and that the EPA has serious reservations about the
dredge facility itself.
An April 2006 memo states:
?Negotiations are occurring between the Army Corp of Engineers and
Dow concerning the potential use of by Dow of a planned ACOE dredged
material disposal facility. Dow is seeking the option of potentially
disposing of contaminated sediments from the Saginaw River in the
DMDF as part of the future potential dredging by Dow.? (Gerry
Phillips, Corrective Action Program Manager, US. EPA)
Lone Tree volunteer
Michelle Hurd Riddick, who obtained the documentation from EPA?s
Chicago headquarters, made clear the significance of the group?s
?The lack of
transparency and candor with the public and impacted communities is
appalling,? said Hurd Riddick. ?This unlined slurry pit sitting
in the floodplain of the Saginaw River is not appropriate for the
Corps? contaminated river dredgings, let alone considering it for
Dow?s cleanup. The Saginaw County Board of Commissioners agreed to
allow the taxpayers to accept liability for a navigational dredge
disposal site ? not a hazardous waste dump. Commissioners were
sold a bill of goods. Why are
Saginaw taxpayers being asked to accept perpetual legal and
financial responsibility for Dow?s contamination??
Saginaw County is the
local sponsor of the project, and the Saginaw County Commission, as
part of its sponsorship, is required to accept financial
responsibility for any problems associated with the site.
?The Corps should be
working for us,? said Zilwaukee Township clerk, Pat Bradt, ?not
Dow. They should not be making backroom deals. As it is, our
property values are being lost, our quality of life destroyed, and
now it looks like they want to shove a toxic dump site down our
throats ? can it get any worse!
This summer, Lone Tree
Council filed suit in federal court arguing that the Corps should
have conducted the more comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement
required for federal projects that will have a significant
environmental impact. Lone Tree requested an injunction to stop the
project until the proper analysis was done. Although a Detroit
federal judge denied the injunction, the case is continuing on the
merits of requiring an EIS.
The controversial project
was a response to the problem of silt build-up in the Upper Saginaw
River that was slowing ship passage in the channel. Support for
dredging remains strong in the community and Lone Tree Council has
urged its use in a Dow cleanup ? provided that dioxin-contaminated
sediment is placed in a licensed hazardous waste landfill or
treatment facility. The haste in selection of the present location,
however, has been controversial. Officials of Zilwaukee and
Frankenlust townships opposed what they saw as heavy-handed tactics
by the Corps and Saginaw County to build the dump in violation of
local zoning restrictions in a floodplain near residences.
Environmentalists argued the location was next to a state game
preserve in a major wildfowl flyway, and without water treatment.
The Corps has since agreed
to emergency dredging of a critical turnaround basin with dredge
spoils being placed in the Confined Disposal Facility (CDF) at the
mouth of the Saginaw River. However, construction at the
Zilwaukee/Frankenlust site has been underway through most of the
summer. The Corps? intent is to begin dredging the Upper Saginaw
River and placing those spoils in the new site as early as next
summer, although the Corps has not made that clear.
mounted a radio campaign that began September 18th with
the goal of encouraging Saginaw County residents to contact their
County Commissioners to reverse their support for the facility, and
to relieve taxpayers of any liability.