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E-M:/ Lone Tree Letter to Stephen Johnson

Letter to Administrator Johnson US EPA Washington DC


Administrator Stephen Johnson

US Environmental Protection Agency

Washington DC


December 17, 2008


Dear Administrator Johnson,


The Environmental Protection Agency has publicly announced it intends to negotiate a remedy to Dow Chemical’s dioxin contamination in the Saginaw Bay, Michigan watershed using the Superfund Alternative Site (SAS) agreement guidelines.  The EPA has indicated these negotiations will be outside of public review.   Given that one of the nation’s premier natural resources is at stake, this is unacceptable. The undersigned are writing to strongly urge you against this action.  We believe the proposed agreement is an unnecessary diversion that could reduce the protectiveness of the cleanup required, weaken the government's hand in requiring timely action, curtails public input and eliminate government transparency and accountability. 

This will be the third time in three years that closed-door negotiations have been undertaken with Dow Chemical. Implementation of the SAS is contrary to the public statements and positions taken by EPA Region V and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on numerous occasions lauding the tremendous progress made in 2007 as a result of enforcement and investigations done in tandem under CERCLA and RCRA.


In March 2008 a joint letter was sent to Dow Chemical from then-Regional Administrator Gade and MDEQ Director Chester voicing strong support for the agencies’ collaborative efforts which they argued would lead to a “final remedy,” one which is “more likely to be final and durable” as a result of the coordination between state and federal programs.  At public meetings and in conversation EPA and MDEQ have admonished the public to recognize the progress made in 2007.


A compelling case for a new path has not been made. This cannot be stated enough.  There is no need for this mid-stream switch from an existing, clean up process under a workable, enforceable RCRA corrective action permit to an unnecessary, potentially detrimental SAS approach that could lead to time delays and less extensive and less protective clean up. Further, the timing of this action, as the EPA is about to transition its leadership, is questionable. 


Finally, the closed-door process raises questions about the real intent of again proposing a new course of action on the cleanup.  We are further concerned that the SAS process does not have the same protections and public oversight outlined under Superfund and RCRA. 


We request a fully transparent process that takes into account the public interest and the human health and ecological implications of any action on this site.  This site remains one of the worst in the nation, and in the last two years saw soil removal based on a finding of imminent hazard to the health of residents.


EPA and the State of Michigan have now been engaged with Dow in various aspects of the dioxin contamination and cleanup for many years.  Resolving an issue of this magnitude requires great care and public accountability and your management of it will be a key part of your legacy as Administrator. We ask for the opportunity to meet with you as soon as possible. We are most happy  to travel to Washington DC for this meeting or to take you on a tour of  our contaminated watershed.


We look forward to hearing from you. Please make Michelle Hurd Riddick or Terry Miller your point of contact. 




Scott Edwards

Water Keeper Alliance

50 S Buckhout

Suit 302

Irvington, NY 10533

914.674.0622, x13


Lana Pollack, President

Michigan Environmental Council 

119 Pere Marquette Drive, Suite 2A
Lansing, Michigan 48912


Rita Jack

Sierra Club, Mackinac Chapter

109 East Grand River
Lansing, MI 48906


Cyndi Roper, Director

Michigan Clean Water Action

East Lansing
1200 Michigan Ave., Ste. A
East Lansing, MI 48823


Lisa Wozniak
Executive Director
Michigan League of Conservation Voters
Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund
213 W. Liberty St, Ste 300
Ann Arbor, MI 48104


Kathy Henry

Tittabawassee River Watch

2935 Shattuckville Road 

Saginaw, MI 48603


Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council


989-327-0854 cell


Terry Miller

Chair, Lone Tree Council

Bay City, MI

989-450-8097 cell



Tracey Easthope

Director, Environmental Health Project

Ecology Center

117 N Division

Ann Arbor, MI 48104





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Carol Browner

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