Saturday, December 28, 2002
proposed contamination deal with Dow falls apart
Mike Tyree / Associated Press
CITY -- Midland resident Diane Hebert couldn't contain her enthusiasm
Friday upon learning of the demise of a widely criticized, state-brokered
deal with Dow Chemical Co.
am just thrilled," said Hebert, among area residents and environmentalists
who sued to prevent the state Department of Environmental Quality
and Dow from cutting a deal to raise allowable dioxin contamination
levels nine-fold in Midland. "This wasn't good for the public
in any way."
proposed deal -- a consent order pushed by top DEQ officials in
the twilight of Republican Gov. John Engler's administration --
fell apart Friday afternoon when Dow wouldn't accept modified language
demanded by the state attorney general's office.
notified the MDEQ we didn't intend to enter into the consent order,"
said John Phillips, a spokesman for the Midland-based company. "We
just couldn't get this completed this year."
blasted the proposal since a draft was released in early November.
It would have provided for "site specific" dioxin contamination
standards in Midland of 831 parts per trillion, as opposed to the
state's current 90 parts per trillion standard.
contamination from the Midland plant also exists in higher concentrations
along a 20-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River floodplain downstream
samples indicate that most of the contamination around the plant
site, including some residential areas, falls between 90 and 831
parts per trillion. Dow would have avoided potentially huge cleanup
costs under the consent order language.
opponents also contended that a health study proposed by Dow was
a veiled attempt to gloss over legitimate dioxin health contamination
Director Russell Harding, whose term ends Monday, defended the proposed
it continues to be my belief that a consent order to address the
dioxin contamination in Midland is the appropriate solution, it
has become impossible at this late date to prepare a final document
that not only complies with the environmental statute, but also
reflects the substantive comments received from all parties,"
DEQ staffers criticized the plan, however, as well as officials
with the state Department of Community Health. Officials in both
departments authored reports and memos pointing out flaws and potential
illegalities, but those documents were withheld from the public
record, state officials said.
the state attorney general's office repeatedly criticized the proposed
consent order as illegal. Attorney general's spokesman Greg Bird
said the DEQ offered a modified consent order Monday, and after
discussions early Friday with Dow and DEQ, another document was
to be submitted Friday.
the deal died.
wouldn't discus the company's specific problems with the modified
proposed order, but said Dow looks forward to working with new DEQ
administration, headed by Steven Chester, Democratic Gov.-elect
Jennifer Granholm's choice for director.
City attorney Chris Bzdok, who represented the plaintiffs in the
suit against Dow and DEQ, said he will now drop the case.
still going to keep a careful eye on the process and the dioxin
in Midland," he said.