Dow appeals plan for dioxin cleanup
By Tony Lascari
The Dow Chemical Co. is appealing a plan for dioxin cleanup that it says extends past the Saginaw Bay into Lake Huron.
The company is required by the state to investigate contamination in the Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay, but not Lake Huron, Dow spokesman John Musser said.
The company appealed modifications to its latest scope of work document made by Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, mainly because the changes add about 300 square miles to be tested in Lake Huron, Musser said.
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said that Dow's assertion is "absolutely wrong."
"We're not making them go out there because we already have samples that show we don't have contamination out there," MDEQ spokesman Bob McCann said.
Dow might be confusing sampling done previously in Lake Huron, McCann said. He said the state is only requiring investigation to show where the contamination went to that came from Dow's property.
Musser said the company has worked on substantial cleanup in the Tittabawassee River and is prepared to do remedial cleanup actions in the first six miles of the Saginaw River if necessary. Dow completed some sampling in 2007 to get ahead on finding solutions to the contamination, Musser said.
Beyond that stretch of the river, Dow hoped to take a more restorative approach to the work. Musser said the company is not the only contributor to contamination of the Saginaw River and should not be solely responsible for its cleanup.
When the MDEQ approved the scope of work plan, it added modifications that go beyond what legitimately would be called the Saginaw Bay, Musser said.
"As it turns out the modifications are just not acceptable," he said. "The modifications were unilaterally made and beyond the scope of DEQ's legal authority."
Musser said about 300 square miles of Lake Huron were added to the required sampling area, which would go beyond the state's authority to require Dow to investigate Saginaw Bay.
"The modifications would require Dow to take on an endless and pointless series of studies which will clearly distract from the important work we thought ought to be addressed and what the public really cares about," Musser said. "What they're putting out here is that there's no real end in sight in what they expect us to do."
That's why Dow filed an appeal to the plan on Thursday.
"Our hope would be that the result of this would be for DEQ to withdraw the modified scope of work and for us to get back together and look at the data that is there and the data that's coming March 1, and make our decisions based on that," Musser said.
"Hopefully it's something we can work through and put behind us quickly so important work isn't delayed," McCann said, adding he thinks the issue is simply a matter of misunderstanding.
©Midland Daily News 2008