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New phase announced in Dow dioxin cleanup near Midland

Sep 27, 2016

Dow Chemical corporate headquarters in Midland.
Credit User mgreason / wikimedia commons

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has proposed a new phase in its multi-year plan to clean up dioxin contamination from Dow Chemical's Midland plant. 

Discharges from the plant in the last century boosted levels of dioxins in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and their floodplains.

Dioxins are toxic chemicals that may cause cancer and other serious health problems.

The latest phase targets six miles of a contaminated 21-mile section of the Tittabawassee River and its floodplain. 

The plan calls for covering up some of the contaminated soil, removing some of it, and relying on natural processes to reduce some of the contamination. 

The EPA is directing Dow's investigation and cleanup of the river. 

"It's hard to put an end date on this," said Dianne Russell, an EPA official. "But work continues, and we're proud of the fact that every year, because we're doing work in the river, every year the river is cleaner than it was the year before."

Russell said this next phase will start in 2017 and is estimated to cost $5.2 to $6 million. She said Dow is responsible for paying the costs of the clean up.

Terry Miller, chair of the Lone Tree Council, an environmental group, expressed frustration at the slow pace. 

"It seems like it's taken an inordinate amount of time for this clean up. I mean, we're in the eleventh year of the discovery and pursuit of remedies," said Miller.

The public comment period for the clean up plan runs until November 6, 2016, and comments may be emailed to russell.diane@epa.gov. A public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, October 19, at 6:30 p.m. at Arrowwood Elementary School, 5410 Seidel Rd., Saginaw.