EPA Vows to Clean Up Michigan Dow Site


Photo via the Michigan Messenger

The EPA is getting serious about cleaning up an infamous toxic site in Michigan. Administrator Lisa Jackson today committed to scrubbing the Michigan Dow Dioxin site as well as a speeding up of the EPA's overall scientific review of dioxins, a class of hundreds of chemicals that come from waste and manufacturing chemicals and pesticides. A former EPA official has said she was removed from her job under the Bush Administration for blowing the whistle on the site.Says the EPA:

"EPA is stepping up our commitment to this site, in partnership with the state of Michigan, so that we can accelerate this cleanup and deal with the pressing threats to human health and the environment," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "We are also redoubling our efforts to provide guidance on the science of dioxin health effects to inform cleanup decisions at this site and protect other communities, in Michigan and across the country, facing dioxin contamination."

The Dow Chemical site in Midland, Michigan contains significant dioxin contamination that extends for 50 miles down the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and into the Saginaw Bay. Dow has said they are responsible for the pollution but have slowed clean up efforts. Jackson announced the decision to community members affected by the site. Using her authority to clean up Superfund sites, the EPA will work with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to make the Saginaw Bay watershed what it once was.

There will be a public hearing on June 17.

Under the agreement, EPA will require Dow to "sample the rivers and bay for dioxin contamination and identify options for cleanup." And judging by the EPA's press release, Dow won't get off the hook:

While EPA hopes to work cooperatively with the company, Jackson said that the agency will not hesitate to use all tools at its disposal — including a wide range of penalties and sanctions — to ensure Dow Chemical upholds its responsibility to clean up this site. If Dow fails to meet its responsibilities, EPA will conduct the cleanup at the company's expense.

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