Enviro-Mich message from MICHDAVE@aol.com
Sorry for the length of this e-mail but what is happening along the Saginaw River is nothing short of a calamity and a travesty.
Lone Tree Council and Environment Michigan have a court date on June 27th in an effort to secure an Environmental Impact Statement for the dioxin pit being constructed in Zilwaukee and Frankenlust Twp.
The list below is not inclusive of all the problems with the dioxin pit being constructed but it's a start. Saginaw County taxpayers own this dioxin pit lock stock and barrel! We are taking on liability for Dow's dioxin. This site is also Dow's model ( Framework Agreement http://www.deq.state.mi.us/documents/deq-dow-framework-final1-20-05.pdf) for future disposal sites which could land in communities along the Tittabawassee River. It is imperative this site be located, constructed and permitted with the best, not the cheapest, technology and scientific scrutiny available. Residents along the Saginaw River say the ships are coming and going without incident in the navigational channel. There is still time to do this right!
Stay tuned a web site dedicated to this debacle is under construction
1) LIABILITY FOR SAGINAW COUNTY RESIDENTS: Saginaw County leaders have placed the burden of monitoring and responsibility for the proposed spoils site on Saginaw taxpayers FOREVER. If there is any future damage or environmental accident or release, Saginaw taxpayers are responsible. Even though the "chemical fingerprint" for the toxin of concern, dioxin, identifies Dow as the responsible party, YOU, the taxpayers are taking on Dow's liability while our politicians look the other way.
2) FLOODED PROPERTIES: The site is to be built in the Saginaw River floodplain, a floodplain that in 1986 was under fifty-two inches of water. Construction in this location will remove critical floodwater storage from surrounding communities. Where will future water go when 400 hundred acres are diked and removed from the floodplain? 1
3) LOST FARMLAND: According to the American Farmland Trust, Michigan between 1982 and 1992 lost approximately 854,000 acres of farmland, or 85,000 acres per year. The land chosen to site the slurry pit is 400 acres of productive farmland, some of which has been enrolled in Michigan's Farmland Preservation Act.
4) LOST WETLANDS: The farmland proposed for the site is actually drained wetlands. In order to obtain a Department of Environmental Quality permit to build in a wetlands, the sponsor practiced and the State accepted an amazing sleight of hand. The sponsor suggested that using only two hundred acres of the site, and returning the remainder to active wetlands met the mitigation requirements. But, in fact, the State and its citizens have lost 200 acres of wetlands WITH NO COMPENSATION OR REPLACEMENT.
5) CONTAMINATION OF GAME AREA: The site is next to the Crow Island State Game Area, a refuge for wildfowl; fur bearing animals, and nesting eagles. The area is hunted and trapped and its game consumed. If, as proposed, the slurry pit remains an uncovered ponded site, toxics located in the sediment will be taken up by resident wildlife. Reproductive impairments and uptake by the human community would become a reality. 2 DEQ studies on the impacts of dioxin on wildlife can be found at http://www.michigan.gov/deq/0,1607,7-135-3308_21234_9847-43808--,00.html#Ecological_Risk_Assessment
6) IMPACTS ON DUCK HUNTING: The slurry pit is sited on a migratory flyway. The open slurry pond would be a deadly invitation. Dioxins are noted for causing reproductive failure. In addition, duck hunting is a billion dollar business in Michigan. What additional economic harm will result when research shows our watershed ducks join our fish in being unable to be safely eaten because of dioxin contamination?
7) ODOR AND FUGITIVE DIOXIN PROBLEMS: Michigan is supposed to protect1 its citizens from bad air. 3 As planned, the slurry pit will stink and impact the enjoyment of residents' property. This is not hypothetical. Corps spokesman at a public meeting noted that the "method of dredging would bring up organics that would rot - there would be odors." In addition, dioxin binds tightly to soil. The dust blowing off this toxic pit on prevailing westerly winds will settle in people's yards and homes. Inhalation of dioxin is a major exposure pathway for human populations.
8) IMPACT ON LAKE HURON: The U.S. EPA has told the Corps of Engineers in written comments that it feared selective dredging would destabilize Saginaw River sediment and wash toxics downstream. A dioxin trail already reaches six miles into Saginaw Bay. Doing navigational dredging for upstream business without regard for the environment threatens recreational and commercial fishing - it robs Peter to pay Paul. An Environmental Impact Statement, had it been done, would have addressed this issue. To date inconsistent statements abound about how the migration of sediments will be handled.
9) LACK OF WATER TREATMENT: According to the Clean Water Act any waters removed from lakes, rivers and streams must be returned clean. The Corps proposes to simply return it like they got it - no treatment. That violates the intent of the Clean Water Act and both Lone Tree Council and the National Wildlife Federation are contesting this decision before an Administrative Law Judge in Lansing.
10) POTENTIAL GROUNDWATER CONTAMINATION: Dozens of sand lens or sand seams run through the property where the slurry pit was sited. These sand seams serve as highways for contaminated spoils drawn from river dredging and placed in the pit. The seams would allow for the slurry to migrate to groundwater, adjacent property or back to the river. These seams increase the cost of the project, threaten public health, threaten groundwater and increase taxpayer liability because of the potential for future contamination.
11) PREEMPTING LOCAL CONTROL: Frankenlust Township, the township wherein the pit will actually be located, had zoned the area wetland and agricultural. It prohibited development in its Master Plan. Heedless of that designation, Saginaw County preempted both Frankenlust, and opposition from the other impacted township, Zilwaukee.
12) UNRESTRICTED USAGE: Most permits have a short life - they have to be renewed. Renewal often means public hearings to determine if new science or best available treatment technologies could better protect the public. The State permits for the slurry permit, however, are for TWENTY YEARS. That is unacceptable. Moreover, there is NO LIMIT ON WHAT CAN GO INTO THE PIT. Though ostensibly for navigational spoils, the State has made clear that spoils dredged from a possible cleanup of dioxin-contaminated sediment from the Tittabawassee River could enter the site.
13) NO CONSTRUCTION, MANAGEMENT OR OPERATION PLAN: A house, a garage, a pole barn - all require plans and approval by local authorities. Many require public hearings. This project, a major expenditure of federal and local monies, with major ecological and human impact, has to date no approved construction plans, management or operation plans. Yet it was granted both a State floodplain and wetland permit. No public hearings on any plans have been held. Build as you go is not the way government is supposed to operate.
14) NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT (EIS): All federal projects are required to complete a review of impacts including alternatives. Every existing dredge site in the Great Lakes has completed an EIS except two. One was built in an upland location, and had previously completed two EIS's for nearby locations. The other is -- here, at the Zilwaukee/Frankenlust site. 4 The Lone Tree Council with the help of the National Environmental Law Center, and a local attorney, Robert June, is presently contesting the lack of an EIS in federal court.
15) FLAWED PROCESS: Government works best in the bright sunshine of openness. From the beginning of the search for a spoils site a core of river businesses, Saginaw County officials, Army Corps of Engineers and State regulatory administrators have restricted access to the process; provided little response to concerns; kept the public out of meetings; and generally made collecting information on the project restricted or expensive.
16) MORE SUITABLE ALTERNATIVES: Why put contaminated spoils in a low floodplain, near residents and a wildlife refuge if other alternatives exist? And other sites were and are available. General Motors has an existing Type II landfill on the banks of the Saginaw River, in upland, with capacity. All GM asked of the state is assurances that the company would not be held responsible for the dioxin-contaminated spoils. The State declined and nobody dared expect Dow to indme Yet Saginaw leaders have asked their residents to accept that burden for this site. And what about the Dow Chemical Company - it's their dioxin! Would it not be appropriate to ask that they accept the liability?
1. In several Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) internal memos, staff asked that the site be moved to an upland location out of the floodplain.
2. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) voiced objections because the site could adversely affect the health of wildlife, detract from management objectives and detract from the public's safety and enjoyment.
3. Specifically, Rule 901 "prohibits emissions of air contaminants that alone or in reaction with other air contaminants, cause injurious effects to human health or safety, animal life, plant life or significant economic value or property."
4. The Corps took a shortcut, an Environmental Assessment (EA). With very little fact finding, they dismissed all criticisms, including extensive EPA comments. An Environmental Impact Statement would require greater participation of federal and state agencies, examination of economic assumptions, and require clear reasoning why alternative sites were ignored
Michelle Hurd Riddick
Lone Tree Council .
......it must be made clear that the County is ultimately responsible for any and all costs, as specified in the Agreement, which may include, among other things, costs of clean-up and response, including studies and investigations necessary to determine an appropriate response, in the event of contamination-
Andre Borrello Saginaw County Attorney in a letter to the County Board September 2005 advising of county liability for Dow's dioxin
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