(Beyond Pesticides, July 20, 2007) Dow Chemical Company has reached agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to begin cleanup of dioxin contamination downstream of its Midland, Michigan facility immediately. The teratogenic (i.e. ability to cause developmental malformations) and mutagenic compounds are not only byproducts of manufacturing processes but are contained in one of Dow’s most used herbicides.
Last November, Dow identified dioxin hot spots along the Tittabawassee River, but corrective action “has taken too long” according to an EPA press release. “EPA has documented that dioxin contamination in soil poses risks to human health and the environment.” Dioxins are a family of chemicals that have been linked to cancer, weakened immune systems and reproductive problems.
Terry Miller, a member of Lone Tree Council, an environmental group, told the Saginaw News that EPA’s decision confirmed his suspicions that Dow was “dragging their feet” in the cleanup efforts. “There’s been a lot of print suggesting the state has been too hard on the company when it appeared that Dow was being too slow,” he said. “The federal government would seem to support that contention.”
Michelle Hurd-Riddick, a spokeswoman for the Lone Tree Council, was quoted by the Saginaw News saying that her search of the federal agency’s documents revealed “fatigue and frustration” with the chemical giant’s “chronic, chronic delays” while the highest concentrations of dioxin contamination linger untouched.
Past waste disposal practices, fugitive emissions and incineration at the Midland plant have resulted in on- and off-site contamination of nearby waterways. Dow’s manufacturing of chlorine-based products and other chemicals results in dioxins, as well as furans, chlorobenzenes and heavy metals, as byproducts.
Dioxins can be found in final products too, including 2,4-D, one of Dow’s major herbicides in use today. 2,4-D is commonly found in weed and feed and is used widely for vegetation control in agriculture as well. Dow has been a leader in obscuring the science and weakening the regulation of these and other deadly chemicals. Beyond Pesticides is working to make consumers aware of the dangers of these products and hold companies accountable for their wrongdoings.