Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Tittabawassee River Dioxin Contamination - Michigan's Toxic Cleanup Laws Under Attack in Legislature!

Dow Chemical's poisoning of the Tittabawassee River is a problem that the folks in Midland, Michigan will be dealing with for decades to come. Horrendous damage has been done and the negligence by Dow Chemical Corporation is reprehensible. But legislators are trying to protect Dow Chemical and propose changing how Michigan manages cleanup laws. HB4617 is opposed by every Michigan environmental group and the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The dioxin contamination stretches 22 miles downstream of the Dow Chemical Corporation's world headquarters and manufacturing plant located in the city of Midland. The Tittabawassee River connects to the Saginaw River and then flows out to the Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron.

Current levels of Dioxin toxicity are over 80 times the level deemed safe for human contact in residential areas. More than 2000 properties are contaminated in an area estimated to cover 16,000 acres spanning either side of 22 miles of river. The contaminated land is covered in homes, parks, churches, schools, farms, a national wildlife refuge, and many small businesses.

Here are 3 links to excellent, highly informative sources that include a historical perspective, maps and available research on the effects of this globally unprecedented level of dioxin contamination.

  • Michigan DEQ's Tittabawassee River page is very detailed, tons of information.
  • Tittabawasee River Watch is an organization of concerned property owners along the river promoting the protection of homes, health, and river. This website was created by victims of the contamination introduced by the Dow Chemical Company.
  • The Ecology Center of Ann Arbor is environmental activism at its best. These folks are well informed and they know how to raise hell.

    According to the folks at the Ecology Center, HB 4617 would remove the state's ability to designate some property as a "facility" or potentially contaminated. An amendment would also allow the polluter to decide whether a property can receive the designation.

    "The result will be more expensive cleanups, slower cleanups, and increased liability for individual property owners whose property may be contaminated. Residents may actually lose the ability to force polluters to pay! In addition, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" provisions of the bill would prevent property owners from knowing that their property is contaminated, would prevent future owners from being informed, and would prevent the DEQ from doing anything about it, even if the property owners wanted help."

    Stand up and fight this bill. This bill is an attempt by the legislature to weaken the authority of the DEQ to protect the Great Lakes! Please email the Senate Majority leader and tell him you don't want the bill to move forward.
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