dow chemical

Sports
6:40 am
Fri January 31, 2014

Dow Chemical is helping some US athletes reach for Olympic glory

Jay Tudor, a member of Dow Chemical R&D, put part of a Luge sled through its paces in a lab in Midland, Michigan
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some scientists at Dow Chemical in Midland plan to spend some of their break time next month watching TV coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. 

But they’ve got more than the usual rooting interest in one of the Games' more obscure sports.

In a nondescript laboratory deep inside the warren of buildings that make up the massive Dow Chemical complex in Midland, a large machine is shaking and rattling something that looks like a miniature sleigh.

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Business
11:22 am
Tue January 21, 2014

Activist investor wants changes at Dow Chemical

Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Michigan (file photo)
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A major hedge fund is making waves for Midland-based Dow Chemical.

Third Point Management announced today that it has upped its position in Dow Chemical.

The hedge fund now has a $1.3 billion stake in Dow. That makes the hedge fund a significant shareholder in the company.  

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Environment & Science
12:24 pm
Sat October 26, 2013

EPA plans cleanup of dioxin-tainted Tittabawassee River segment

Imerman Park sits on the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River. Signs along the trail warn walkers about dioxin contamination in some of the park's soil.
Shawn Allee/The Environment Report

BAY CITY, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is making plans for cleanup next year of a 4-mile-long segment of the Tittabawassee River contaminated with dioxin from a Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland.

It's part of a multi-year strategy to remove tainted sediments from the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers that were polluted by water and air emissions from the plant from the late 1890s to the 1970s.

A 3-mile stretch near the plant was completed in September.

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Environment & Science
8:57 am
Tue July 9, 2013

Michigan State University to study dioxins and human health

Michigan State University campus, East Lansing, Michigan (file campus
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Michigan State University is getting  $14 million to study how dioxins affect human health.

MSU researchers will look for ways to remove dioxins from the environment and reach out to communities burdened with the toxic pollutants.

Dioxin contamination has been a problem in parts of Michigan, including along the Tittabawassee and Kalamazoo Rivers.

Norbert Kaminski is heading up the multi-disciplinary study. He notes that dioxins have been linked to illnesses like cancer.

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Economy
2:58 pm
Sun June 16, 2013

Michigan's natural gas prices may rise, depending on decisions to allow more overseas exports

Natural gas prices have been extremely low in Michigan. But will prices stay low?
ipaa.org

For years, Michigan businesses and consumers have enjoyed extremely low natural gas prices.

But that may be changing. And it’s a case of basic economics. 

Natural gas is selling for about $4 per thousand cubic feet in the U.S.

In Europe, the price is closer to $10 per thousand cubic feet. In Japan, the price is hovering over $15.

So it should be no surprise that the energy industry is pushing hard for more exports of natural gas.       

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Law
11:43 pm
Thu May 16, 2013

Dow Chemical plans to appeal a big class action suit decision

dow.com

A federal judge has slapped Midland-based Dow Chemical with a billion dollar judgment in a price fixing case. The company allegedly colluded with its competitors to fix the price of urethane.

The collusion allegedly occurred between 1998 and 2003. Urethane is used in automotive, construction, appliance and furniture products.

In February, a jury turned in a 400 million dollar verdict against Dow Chemical. This week, a federal judge tripled the penalty to $1.2 billion.   

Dow plans to appeal the verdict. BASF, Huntsman International and Lyondell Chemical Company have already reached out of court settlements with the plaintiffs.

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Environment & Science
11:59 am
Fri September 14, 2012

Dow chemical sampling properties in Midland, Michigan for dioxin pollution

Dow Chemical's headquarters in Midland.
wikimedia commons

MIDLAND, Mich. (AP) - The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality says Dow Chemical Co. is ahead of schedule as it samples residential properties in Midland for dioxin.

The DEQ this week approved Dow's request to begin work on 300 properties that had been scheduled for inspection next year.

It's part of a five-year plan to clean up neighborhoods contaminated for decades by airborne dioxin from a Dow plant in Midland, where the company is based.

Of about 150 properties sampled thus far, 22 have had dioxin levels higher than 250 parts per trillion, which triggers a company-funded cleanup if the owners want it.

Results from this fall's sampling will be available next spring. Any needed cleanups will get started then.

Dow is negotiating with federal officials over cleanup of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers.

Environment & Science
1:28 pm
Fri June 1, 2012

State OKs Dow dioxin clean-up plan

Imerman Park sits on the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River. Signs along the trail warn walkers about dioxin contamination in some of the park's soil.
Shawn Allee The Environment Report

After years of back-and-forth between residents, regulators and Dow Chemical, a massive clean-up of contaminated soil in Midland is getting under way.

The state approved the cleanup plan today. It calls for soil testing on 1,400 properties. Officials are looking for dioxins. Those are byproducts of chemical manufacturing. The toxins have been linked to health problems, including cancer.

"After all the meetings I've attended over the years and everything, and being asked why's this taking so long and everything, it's nice to be able to tell somebody the actual clean-up is really being done," said Jim Sygo, deputy director of the Department of Environmental Quality.

The plan calls for removing and replacing soil contaminated with dioxin at levels above 250 parts per trillion.

Sygo says that's a level that studies have determined poses an unacceptable cancer risk.

Environmental groups say they think the number should be lower, and take into account health risks other than cancer.

Still, some are celebrating the milestone.

“If you know the history of the city of Midland, and how political this has been, and how much push-back there has been from city fathers, from the business community, from the Chamber of Commerce, from Dow Chemical, over decades, I think only then can you truly appreciate…this is significant progress for that community,” said Michelle Hurd Riddick of the Lone Tree Council.

Dow Chemical Co.'s plan to clean up sites with dioxin contamination near its Midland facility has been approved by Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality.

Back in February, Dow also offered a land purchase and relocation program to about 50 landowners living near the company's Michigan Operations manufacturing plant.

From a Dow press release:

Dow is offering this incentivized property purchase program to give property owners in the immediate area north and east of Michigan Operations...the option to move out of an industrial/commercial area to a residential area, if they so choose. The program will also offer relocation support for those who rent their homes, if the property owner participates in the program.

As the Environment Report's Rebecca Williams has reported, dioxins are a class of toxic chemicals that appear "in the environment as by-products of many industrial processes and some natural sources." The Environmental Protection Agency says dioxins are likely to cause cancer in humans.

-John Klein Wilson contributed to this report

Economy
10:05 am
Thu May 24, 2012

Dow Chemical gets $2 billion award for canceled Kuwait project

Dow Chemical's headquarters in Midland.
wikimedia commons

Dow Chemical says an international court has awarded it $2.16 billion in damages from its dispute with Petrochemical Industries Co., a subsidiary of state-owned Kuwait Petroleum Corp.

Dow shares are up 4 percent in trading Thursday before the opening bell.

Midland, Mich.-based Dow, one of the world's largest chemical companies, formed a $17.4 billion joint venture with the Kuwaiti company in 2008 to produce plastics for consumer products, automotive parts and drug processing. But the deal was scrapped later that year by that country's government following lawmaker criticism that could have led to a political crisis in the small oil-rich state.

"This outcome brings resolution and closure to the issue," Andrew Liveris, Dow`s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement.  "We remain focused on continuing to move forward with our transformation and profitable business partnerships -- both in Kuwait and around the world."

Dow has Chemical Co. been doing business with Kuwait for nearly 40 years.

Politics
10:24 am
Mon April 2, 2012

In this morning's Michigan news headlines...

Morning News Roundup, Friday, March 30th, 2012
Brother O'Mara Flickr

Deadline coming for Detroit

Detroit City Council is meeting today to mull over potential changes to a "financial stability agreement" with the state. Gov. Rick Snyder has said this Thursday is his deadline to decide whether or not to appoint an emergency manager for the city, but some think there might be some wiggle room. From the Detroit Free Press:

On Friday, Snyder's chief of staff Dennis Muchmore said on "Off the Record" on public TV's WKAR that "there's a little bit of flexibility that's built into the law" establishing the emergency manager process, and April 13 becomes "another target date" because of an appeal period. But in a comment that received less attention, Muchmore also said that Thursday is "a hard and fast deadline" for Snyder to decide on an emergency manager.

Michigan Radio's Sarah Cwiek reported last Friday that another court hearing on the legality of the state's consent agreement process could further muddle the process. A court hearing is set for April 9th, after Gov. Snyder's April 5th deadline.

Dow to lay off 900 workers

Dow Chemical Co. is set to lay off around 900 people in response to weak demand for its products in Europe.

The Associated Press reports the chemical manufacturer said today the positions will be cut as part of a plan to trim about $250 million in annual costs. They said they will shut down factories in Illinois, Portugal, Hungary, and Brazil, and it will idle a plant in The Netherlands.

Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris said the company made the decision to adapt to a volatile economy, especially in western Europe.

Dow says it will book a first-quarter charge of $350 million in the first quarter for severance packages, asset impairments and other items related to its cost-cutting plan.

Shares rose 3 cents to $34.67 in morning trading.

Gas prices rising

Gas prices rose about 7 cents during the past week, according to AAA Michigan. Prices are at a statewide average above $4 per gallon for the first time since last June.

From the AP:

The auto club says Monday the average of $4.04 is about 37 cents per gallon higher than last year at this time.

Of the cities it surveys, AAA Michigan says the cheapest price for self-serve unleaded fuel is in the Flint area, where it's $3.95 a gallon. The highest average is in the Ann Arbor and Marquette areas at $4.07.

AAA says Michigan's all-time high was $4.26.

Environment
1:22 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Tittabawassee River cleanup far from finished

SAGINAW, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials say they're a couple of years away from settling on a plan for cleaning up a 24-mile section of the Tittabawassee River polluted with dioxin from a Dow Chemical Co. plant.

The Environmental Protection Agency provided an update on the cleanup Monday during a community advisory group meeting at Saginaw Valley State University.

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Education
5:02 pm
Tue March 13, 2012

Environmental group questions Dow's sustainability gift to UofM

Imerman Park sits on the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River. Signs along the trail warn walkers about dioxin contamination in some of the park's soil.
Shawn Allee The Environment Report

Update 5:02 p.m.

Rick Fitzgerald, a spokesman for the University of Michigan, responded to concerns raised by an environmental group about Dow Chemical’s $10 million gift to the university.

The Ecology Center wants the university to release more details about the agreement between Dow and the U of M. In a press release, The Ecology Center’s Tracy Easthope urged the University “to make public the details of this gift, including whether the gift comes with strings attached.”

Fitzgerald said the University of Michigan has lots of partnerships with corporate funded research and other corporate philanthropy and has a “long track record of working very effectively with corporate partners in research projects.”

“We never turn over control of any research opportunities to the donors,” said Fitzgerald. “The program itself is directed by Don Scavia, the special counsel to the U of M President for Sustainability… and the program will continue to be directed by him and by the University of Michigan, and certainly when it comes to any curriculum development, that remains solely the responsibility of the U of M faculty and staff.”

Fitzgerald said there would be “a loaned employee from Dow” who would serve as a link between the U of M program and Dow Chemical, and who would provide some other program support.

Fitzgerald said if people are interested in the details, they are available upon request from the U of M’s public affairs department, the U of M’s Freedom of Information Office, or through Don Scavia’s office. Michigan Radio has requested a copy of the agreement.

“I think this is an exciting program,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s a great example of corporate philanthropy at the University of Michigan and we think it will be managed well and effectively to the benefit of society.”

2:12 p.m.

Environmental health director at the Ecology Center Tracy Easthope is calling on the University of Michigan to release the details behind Dow Chemical's gift to the university

It was announced yesterday that Dow will give U of M $10 million to establish a sustainability fellowship program.

The program will support the work of around 300 masters, doctoral, and post-doctoral students for a period of six years. From the University of Michigan:

Fellows will develop knowledge and seek breakthroughs across myriad components of the sustainability challenge, including human behavior, energy, water, mobility, climate change, built environment, land use, and global health.

In a statement, Easthope said, “while a major gift to further sustainability education is laudable, it is important to assure the complete independence of the University... We urge the University to make public the details of this gift, including whether the gift comes with strings attached.”

The group cites a University of California at Berkeley case as cause for concern. They say, after a giving a gift to U.C. Berkeley, a Dow Chemical employee was hired into a position where he teaches students - raising questions of academic independence.

From the Ecology Center's press release:

Dow Chemical is a global leader in manufacturing chemicals, some of which have problematic health and environmental attributes. Dow’s advocacy to continue production of these problematic chemicals suggests the company’s definition of sustainability is not in agreement with the mainstream.

“Dow is responsible for one of the largest contamination sites in Michigan, stretching more than 50 miles to Saginaw Bay and into Lake Huron,” said Rita Chapman, clean-water program director at the Sierra Club. “Until recently, they have delayed cleanup action, which has put people’s health at risk.”

Michele Hurd of the Lone Tree Council has been closely involved in the fight to get Dow Chemical to clean up its dioxin contamination in Michigan. In the release, she says "Dow has not earned a major voice in sustainability education."

A phone call was made to the University of Michigan for comment.

Education
9:27 pm
Mon March 12, 2012

Dow Chemical starts $10 million fellowship program with University of Michigan

Dow Chemical will fund a new, $10 million fellowship program at the University of Michigan.

The Dow Sustainability Fellows program is designed to support 300 graduate students over six years.

Graduate students from a variety of backgrounds can become fellows. But they must focus their research on a topic related to environmental sustainability.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris says if that sounds broad, it’s by design. He says the point is to develop human capital to address a complex, hard-to-define issue.

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Cancer & Environment
8:55 am
Thu March 8, 2012

Suing over cancer (Part 4)

Kathy Henry's property was contaminated by Dow Chemical with a chemical called dioxin. The EPA says it's likely to cause cancer.
Photo by Kathy Henry

As part of our week-long series on cancer and the environment... we’re talking about going to court. Some people turn to the courts because they think pollution has made them sick, and they think they know who’s to blame. But, the courts aren’t always the best place to turn with these kinds of cases.

Kathy Henry lived along a river in the Midland area that Dow Chemical contaminated with a chemical called dioxin. The EPA says dioxin is likely to cause cancer. Henry’s property had high levels of the chemical. So she and a group of other people sued Dow. She was more than a little nervous that first day in court.

“I was a little overwhelmed, just really interested in watching the proceedings.”

But what does she feel like now?

”We’re just frustrated to the point where I have no respect for the process anymore.”

Henry’s frustrated because her case started nine years ago. Their case isn’t over yet, but it’s not looking good for them.

“We just wanted the courts to force Dow to basically buy our house so we could leave. And we couldn’t afford to just pack up and leave on our own.”

Henry’s group has not been successful in getting Dow to pay for any moves, or for medical monitoring to look out for future health problems.

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Environment
9:30 am
Thu February 16, 2012

Dow Chemical agrees to clean dioxin-tainted properties in Midland, Michigan

A map of the properties in Midland, Michigan eligible for Dow's voluntary purchase program.
Dow Chemical

John Flesher of the Associated Press reports Michigan environmental regulators have reached a deal with Dow Chemical to clean up around 1,400 residential properties in Midland. The soil in these areas is contaminated with dioxin.

From the AP:

The state Department of Environmental Quality said Thursday it agrees with the company on cleanup plan framework. Dow will fill in the details and submit them to the state for review next month.

Dow has acknowledged polluting 50 miles of rivers and floodplains in Michigan with dioxin for much of the past century. Negotiations and studies with state and federal agencies on how to fix the damage have dragged on since the mid-1990s.

The Midland agreement follows a deal reached last fall on cleansing a three-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River near the plant.

The company issued a statement about the agreement noting they will also offer a land purchase program to around 50 land owners near its Michigan Operations manufacturing site in Midland.

The properties are in the area where Dow and the state agreed to the clean-up and remediation deal.

A map of the affected properties is show above.

From Dow's press release:

Dow is offering this incentivized property purchase program to give property owners in the immediate area north and east of Michigan Operations (see map) the option to move out of an industrial/commercial area to a residential area, if they so choose. The program will also offer relocation support for those who rent their homes, if the property owner participates in the program.

"We see this as an opportunity to address land use near our manufacturing site and give people still living in this industrial/commercial area the choice to move elsewhere," said Rich A. Wells, vice president and site director for Dow's Michigan Operations.

Dow says they will donate the acquired the properties to Midland Tomorrow, a "nonprofit economic development entity serving Midland County."

Environment
11:28 am
Thu February 2, 2012

EPA misses deadline to issue dioxin health assessment

Imerman Park sits on the floodplain of the Tittabawassee River. Signs along the trail warn walkers about dioxin contamination in some of the park's soil.
Photo by Shawn Allee

The Environmental Protection Agency has missed its own deadline to release a major report on the health effects of dioxins. Dioxins are a class of toxic chemicals.

The EPA says dioxins are likely to cause cancer in humans. Since the mid-1980’s, the EPA has been working to define just how toxic dioxins are. Over the years, the agency has released drafts of the report. These drafts have been picked apart by scientists and industry. Then, the EPA goes back to working on it.

Last year, the EPA decided to split its dioxin assessment into two parts. One part will look at cancer risks; the other part will look at non-cancer health risks. The agency had promised to release the report on non-cancer effects by the end of January. But they missed that deadline.

The EPA did not want to be recorded for this story. They would only say they’re “working to finalize the non-cancer health assessment for dioxin as expeditiously as possible.”

Living with dioxin pollution

People in central Michigan have lived with dioxin pollution for more than three decades. The pollution is largely from a Dow Chemical plant in Midland. We’ve previously reported that EPA’s dioxin assessment could affect how much dioxin Dow might have to clean up.

Michelle Hurd Riddick is with the Lone Tree Council. It’s an environmental advocacy group based in Saginaw.

“We need our government to issue a clear scientific statement and report on the toxicity of this chemical. But unfortunately, it appears it’s probably politics as usual. And the monied interests, the lobbyists, they have the access, they have the influence and you know, public health be damned.”

The EPA has been under pressure from industry groups.

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Auto/Economy
12:22 pm
Fri January 13, 2012

Former Dow employee sentenced to 5 years in federal prison

A former Dow research scientist was sentenced to five years in federal prison for selling Dow's trade secrets to companies in China.

Wen Chyu Liu maintained his innocence at the sentencing by U.S. District Judge James Brady:

From the Advocate in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:

Assistant U.S. Attorney Corey R. Amundson told Brady that Liu “refuses to accept responsibility for what he did.”

The prosecutor added that Dow held the patent for production of Tyrin CPE, a chlorinated polyethylene polymer used in vinyl siding, plastic jackets for electrical wire, flexible automotive and industrial hoses, as well as other products before Liu sold the firm’s secrets for approximately $600,000...

Frank Holthaus, attorney for Liu, asked Brady to go below sentencing guidelines and place Liu on probation.

Holthaus also disputed Dow’s estimate that Liu caused the firm to lose more than $250 million.

A second hearing will be held to determine how much restitution will be paid to Dow.

Environment
3:40 pm
Thu January 12, 2012

Dow Chemical Co. ranked second-largest toxic waste producer in the nation

Imerman Park sits on the flood plain of the Tittabawassee River. Signs along the trail warn walkers about dioxin contamination in some of the park's soil.
Photo by Shawn Allee

The Dow Chemical Company is the second-largest producer of toxic chemical waste in the nation. That’s according to a new report by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The report shows that Dow produced more than 600 million pounds of toxic chemical waste in the reporting year 2010.

Ben Morlock is a spokesperson for Dow.

Morlock says 97% of that toxic chemical waste was treated, recycled or reused.

“We have on-site wastewater treatment plants, we have air pollution control equipment that incinerates contaminants so they’re not released into the air, we have equipment used in our manufacturing processes that captures chemicals and recycles them back into the process for reuse.”

He says the rest of that waste – the remaining three percent – was disposed of in accordance with the company’s state and federal permits.

“It is safe to say that most of that three percent is handled through land disposal, so for instance, it might go to a licensed secured landfill that is equipped to properly handle certain types of waste. So, I can tell you we audit the facilities we use for disposal and we make sure our waste is being handled properly if it leaves the site.”

He says Dow’s ranking on the EPA list reflects the size of the company. Dow is the nation’s largest chemical manufacturer.

The EPA’s report analyzes data from the Toxics Release Inventory. Industries in certain sectors are required by federal law to report their toxic chemical releases each year. This includes chemical manufacturers, metal mining, electric power companies and hazardous waste treatment.

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Environment
5:39 pm
Wed November 9, 2011

One more project in Dow's long cleanup of Tittabawassee

Dow Chemical will begin removing pollution from a three-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River near its Midland plant.

Dow already removed dioxin and furan contamination in the area; but there are five other chemicals that remain that can be harmful to wildlife.

The company just finished removing a dioxin-laced island in the river.

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Environment
4:18 pm
Tue October 4, 2011

Dow's solar shingles to hit U.S. to markets

Dow's solar shingles will be released in limited markets starting this month.
Dow Chemical

Dow Chemical first unveiled its solar shingle two years ago, with plans for a limited release in mid-2010.

Now the company announced that the shingles will be available to some customers starting this month. The company says they're starting in the strongest markets for solar this month. The shingles will first be available in Colorado, and a "rolling launch" will occur in markets from California to the "East Coast."

In a press release, Dow said the shingle "protects the home like a standard roofing shingle while providing energy that saves the homeowner money":

Dow can now serve the need of homeowners who want to go solar, but aren’t willing to accept the complexity and sub-optimal aesthetics currently offered by bulky, rack-mounted systems.

Booth Mid-Michigan reports that Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris called Dow's solar shingle "a game changer that will address an estimated $5 billion market by 2015."

From Booth Mid-Michigan:

Dow hasn't reported a price for the shingles, but said the cost to homeowners will be set by the channel to market, and will depend on the size and configuration of the home and desired power generation. Dow officials said the cost of solar shingles can be thousands of dollars less than solar panels installed on top of a roof.

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