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Everything Michigan

Cleanup raises concern

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Leonard Heinzman was waiting for someone to draw a line in the sand.

Tuesday night, he was happy someone finally did.

"It's about time," the 60-year-old Tittabawassee Township resident said after his community's leaders voted
to confront government environmental agencies about the dioxin cleanup under way near Midland-based
Dow Chemical Co.

The fear is that cleanup crews wilt level wooded acreage and endanger wildlife.

While no township tree has fallen under the cleanup effort, Heinzman and members of the Township Board
of Trustees want to preempt a larger project that might affect their community someday.

Trustees voted to pursue talks with representatives of the state's Department of Environmental Quality and
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency..

''The level of destruction would cause more harm than good," said Trustee Rick L. Hayes. "We need to talk
about it."

This month, Hayes asked members of a research team taking dioxin samples from soil at Tittabawassee's
11-acre Festival Park to suspend testing until the board could consult with the DEQ or EPA. He said the
team received permission from Dow to end the testing and haven't returned.

"We should have some say as property owners," Hayes said. "We don't want (them) testing anything until
we can discuss things."

He worries that if samples show high contamination levels, the DEQ or EPA will order a cleanup plan that
would mirror the effort under way along the riverbank near Dow.

Dow has chopped down about 300 trees from 1,700 feet of Midland County riverbank, some of which were
4-foot in diameter, said spokesman John C. Musser.

With the order handed down to clean up dioxin, "there are tradeoffs," Musser said. "One of those is the
destruction of habitat. It won't exist, the way that it was, for a number of years."

Carrying photos depicting barren land where trees and brUSh once stood, Hayes said cleaning up the
contamination isn't worth destroying natural habitat.

"It makes me sick to my stomach," he said.

Like Tittabawassee Township residents, Dow officials are unsure how the dioxin cleanup will impact the
riverfront, Musser said.

"Nobody has the crystal ball here," he said. "Whatever Dow is required to do, we're prepared to meet our

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obligations. "

Hayes said a $15 million 2006 University of Michigan-led study - which reported there is little relationship
between where a person lives and how much dioxin is in the person's blood - should cause government
agencies to abandon such massive cleanup efforts.

"We're basically making people spend millions of dollars on stuff we don't have (to worry about)," Hayes

Supervisor Kenneth A. Kasper agreed with Hayes but expressed little confidence the community could stop
a larger government entity.

"I don't think it's going to be a township decision," Kasper said. "If it's contaminated, the state's going to put
the hammer down. I'd like to have the argument just to have the argument, though."

In November, workers with Dow-hired Ann Arbor Technical Services discovered three hot spots within a six-
mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River between Midland's Tridge and Imerman Park in Saginaw Township.

In June, the EPA ordered Dow to hurry remediation efforts at the three sites.

In addition to the riverbank cleanup, crews last week began dredging contaminated soil from the riverbed
near the chemical plant using a cofferdam to contain escaping sediment.

Scientists have linked dioxin to some forms of cancer, reproductive problems and weakened immune
systems in laboratory animals. However, the World Health Organization says dioxins are not considered as
toxic as once thought. v

Justin Engel is a staff writer for The Saginaw News. You may reach him at 776-9691. Staff Writer Corey
Mitchell contributed to this report.

©2007 Saginaw News

© 2007 Michigan Live. All Rights Reserved. 9/21/2007