Here's the editorial I told you about...
C'mon, just clean it up
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Any of you out there trying to keep up with the Dow Chemical Co. dioxin cleanup have permission to roll your eyes from here to Love Canal.
Dow, the state Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have hammered away at each other so hard and for so long they finally have succeeded in making it anyone's guess as to just what's going on.
In the latest episode, last week Dow decided to take the DEQ to court, saying the government agency ''out of thin air'' and without any warning or discussions, significantly increased the scope of the company's dioxin testing plan to include part of Lake Huron. The DEQ says no way. The plan includes some of Saginaw Bay, but not the lake.
Dow wants the court to quash the DEQ-modified plan and start over from scratch.
The relationship between Dow and the DEQ and its overseer, the EPA, has disintegrated into combativeness at the very least, with disagreement at every turn.
Dow says a Wickes Park dioxin discovery last year posed no immediate health risk and cited a University of Michigan study as proof. The EPA called the site the most contaminated ever recorded and the DEQ said the danger was ''beyond the realm of debate.''
Last June, the EPA took center stage, muscling the DEQ out of its way and telling Dow and the DEQ to get a move on with the cleanup of three Tittabawassee River dioxin hot spots. Six months later it quit talks with Dow. No one knows why because both Dow and the EPA agreed not to tell anyone.
Hang in there, folks. There's more.
Last month, Dow decided it wouldn't co-host with the DEQ a regular community dioxin meeting because there was nothing new to add since the last session. The EPA said it would co-host, but a snowstorm kept representatives in Chicago. The DEQ carried on alone.
And now the court action. Dow said it contacted the DEQ to try and settle differences before resorting to litigation. The DEQ said yes, Dow called, but only to say it was filing the lawsuit.
Dow must clean up this 100-year-old mess to the extent science and the risk of making things worse by stirring it up allow.
The environmental agencies must allow sensible conditions that make it possible for the chemical company's executives to put this disruptive and divisive impediment to progress behind us and still protect the health of our people.
Dow's image and its ability to harvest the fruits of its investment in the Tri-Counties region are at stake.
So too are the reputations of the EPA and DEQ.
Sometime, somewhere, somehow this trio has to make peace.
Why not now?