EPA Seeks Immediate Cleanup of Dioxin Contamination

Officials from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and Michigan Department of Community Health met with residents of the Riverside Boulevard neighborhood in Saginaw to discuss results of recent sampling of dioxin-contaminated soil in the area.

Soil from residential properties in an area along the Lower Tittabawassee River was recently sampled and analyzed. While final data is still coming in, preliminary results show properties with unacceptably high levels of dioxin contamination.

EPA has notified Dow Chemical Co. of the situation and will meet with the company and MDEQ to discuss potential response actions. EPA and Dow successfully negotiated the terms of four hot-spot cleanup projects implemented by Dow on the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers downstream of its Midland, Mich., facility last year.

"This cleanup is a high priority as this dioxin contamination is in a residential neighborhood," said EPA Region 5 Superfund Division Director Richard Karl. "We will continue to work with the state agencies to evaluate results of sampling from other residential areas and consider appropriate actions.

The recent sampling project was prompted by Dow'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, which requires Dow to conduct corrective action for historic releases, MDEQ has been requiring Dow to conduct floodplain soil, riverbank, and sediment sampling in and along the Tittabawassee River downstream of Midland.

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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