Thursday, April 03, 2008

EPA Testing for Dioxin in Saginaw Neighborhood

A residential neighborhood in Saginaw is being screened for dioxin-contaminated soil. Approximately 10 residential properties along the Tittabawassee River will be sampled. Small plugs from up to 36 inches below the surface will be sent for laboratory analysis.

Lab testing may take two to three weeks. Once the data is returned, EPA and MDEQ, along with Michigan Department of Community Health, will consider a range of options, including more comprehensive sampling in the area and possible cleanup actions.

"Residential soil contamination is a serious matter," said Associate Superfund Director Ralph Dollhopf. "At this time of year, children are playing outside again and families are planning gardens. If action is needed, this project will ramp up very quickly."

The investigation aims to determine the extent of dioxin contamination present in the neighborhood. The project was prompted by Dow Chemical Co.'s February 2008 disclosure to the agencies of an elevated dioxin level found in a residential soil sample collected by Dow in November 2007. Under the company's Michigan operating license, MDEQ required Dow to conduct certain soil and embankment sampling along the Middle Branch of the Tittabawassee River.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans are byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.

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bobdurivage said...

what are they making in there and is Michigan a better place for it? If one pin prick of dioxin can kill you, how many people's lives will be seriously compromised by Dow's activities as opposed to how many people(employees) are benefitting? And how long are THEY expected to live? What is the life span of a Dow Midland worker?

Jerome Alicki said...

Well Bob, dioxin is a byproduct of chlorine manufacturing. The good folks at Dow apparently dumped it straight into the Tittawabassee River for decades and it is now contaminating the river and groundwater downstream all the way to Saginaw and most likely eventually Lake Huron.

The problem was identified many, many years ago and the lawsuits have been in motion for many years as well. Some 16000 privately owned properties along the Tittawabassee may have some level of contamination, including a wildlife refuge.

Ann Arbor's Ecology Center has a ton of information on the problem on their website. Check them out, they know quite a bit more about the issue than I do.