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2014

March 2014

Segment 2, a 4-mile stretch of the river below the Dow Chemical Co. Plant, is the next stretch of the Tittabawassee River to be cleaned up.  Work in the river will start this spring and is expected to be complete in fall 2015. Plans are being developed now for the first phase of the cleanup. The cleanup plan for Segment 2 builds on previous cleanup work.

EPA extensively studied Segment 2 by taking many samples and evaluated sediment and riverbanks to see how they change or erode over time. Dioxin is the main contaminant in Segment 2. Some areas have high levels of dioxin; in other areas the contamination is not as high. Since each area is different, EPA’s cleanup plan calls for a combination of steps. In some areas, workers will cover or stabilize the contamination to stop it from moving. In other areas, workers will dig up and haul away contaminated sediment. Still in other areas EPA will monitor and maintain work that has already been done.

Areas targeted for cleanup contain higher levels of dioxin that built up over time. Riverbank areas were identified by three criteria: 1) Banks were formed during the industrial age as floods deposited levees; 2) These banks are the least stable; and 3) Erosion could be a significant way for dioxin to get back into the river.  EPA’s two main cleanup goals are to: 1) Reduce the spread of contaminated riverbank soil and sediment to keep dioxin levels low in Segment 2. And 2) Help keep dioxin from building up in fish.  See About Contaminated Sediment and Fish graphic on page 2 of the proposed plan fact sheet(PDF) (8 pp, 545K) July 2013.

2013

November 2013

Map showing segment 2 highlighted in yellow

Segment 1. Work in Segment 1 will be completed November 2013. Segment 1 is the 3-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River next to the Dow Chemical Plant in Midland. 

The Segment 1 cleanup removed and treated dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL). DNAPL is a highly contaminated oily liquid that’s heavier than water and does not dissolve. So far more than 4,000 gallons of DNAPL has been pumped from Segment 1 and sent to the Dow Chemical Co. incinerator. 

A containment system was installed in three  areas of Segment 1 to isolate contaminated sediment.  After cleanup, the area will be monitored and cleanup systems will be operated and maintained.

Segment 2. The next stretch of the river to be cleaned up is Segment 2.  Segment 2 is a four-mile stretch of the river below the Dow Chemical Co. Plant in Midland. Dioxin is the main contaminant . EPA proposed a cleanup plan with a combination of cleanup actions that will stabilize and clean up dioxin-contaminated sediment and riverbanks. Work in Segment 2 will start in spring 2014.

July 2013

EPA is proposing a plan to stabilize and clean up dioxin-contaminated sediment and riverbanks in Segment 2 of the Tittabawassee River. Segment 2 is a 4-mile stretch of the river below the Dow Chemical Co. Plant in Midland.

Public comments on the cleanup alternatives may be submitted in writing between July 8 and August 22, 2013.

March 2013

Tittabawassee River Floodplain

EPA, working with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, is developing cleanup options for contaminated soil in frequently flooded areas along the Tittabawassee River downstream from Midland. Many properties in the Tittabawassee River floodplain will be affected by EPA's cleanup decision. The Tittabawassee River floodplain starts in Midland below the Dow Chemical Co. plant and extends through Midland and Saginaw counties.

Before formally proposing the cleanup options EPA wants to give property owners and other interested people an opportunity to discuss what concerns they may have about a long-term cleanup. EPA is planning to hold a number of interactive small group sessions in different locations near the Tittabawassee River. Starting in March, EPA will send invitations to property owners asking them to attend one of the sessions to share their thoughts. EPA will take their comments and concerns into consideration in developing its proposed cleanup plan.

2012

August 2012

Segment 1 Cleanup

Description of photo

Removing DNAPL and installing a well at SMA 6.

Clean up of contaminated sediment in an area known as Segment 1 in the Tittabawassee River next to Dow’s Midland Plant is progressing well. Segment 1 conditions are unique compared to the rest of the site. Because of earlier cleanups, dioxins are not the main focus here. Six other chemicals or chemical groups are the contaminants being contained or removed in the Segment 1 cleanup. Within Segment 1 there are six distinct regions called Sediment Management Areas (or SMAs) and there are different cleanup steps to take place in each SMA. You can read more about the cleanup in the fact sheet EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan For Polluted River Section (PDF) (8pp, 1MB) August 2011.

Work in 2012 focuses on removal and treatment of a pollutant called dense non-aqueous phase liquid or DNAPL from SMAs 2, 3 and 6. A clean cap has been built over contaminated sediment at SMA 4 to isolate and stabilize it, and capping at SMA 5 is under way. It is anticipated that cleanup work at Segment 1 will be completed by 2013.

Reach K Pilot Capping Study

A pilot capping study, intended to stabilize buried contaminants, was constructed at a sediment deposit at Reach K, about one mile downstream of the Dow plant. The project expands on work at Reach J in 2010 to evaluate an innovative approach to stabilize buried contaminants by placing a grid-shaped geocell material on top of the deposit and having clean material fill the grids and remain in place. Installation of the geocell cap was completed in July and monitoring is ongoing.

June 2012

Wells developed to recover and monitor DNAPL at SMA-6, Segment 1.

Wells developed to recover and monitor DNAPL at SMA-6, Segment 1.

Performing DNAPL recovery at SMA-6 in Segment 1.

Performing DNAPL recovery at SMA-6 in Segment 1.

Placing a clean cap over contaminated sediment at SMA-5 of Segment 1.

Placing a clean cap over contaminated sediment at SMA-5 of Segment 1.

Construction to cleanup up contaminated sediment in an area known as Segment 1 in and along the Tittabawassee River next to the Dow Chemical Plant in Midland has started. As part of EPA’s comprehensive cleanup approach, the Tittabawassee River has been divided into seven segments and work will be conducted in stages from upstream to downstream, segment by segment. Segment 1 is the most upstream segment.

Segment 1 conditions are unique compared to the rest of the site. Because of earlier cleanups, dioxins are not the main focus here. Six other chemicals or chemical groups are the contaminants being contained or removed in the Segment 1 cleanup. Within Segment 1 there are six distinct regions called Sediment Management Areas (or SMAs) and there are different cleanup steps to take place in each SMA. You can read more about the cleanup in the fact sheet EPA Proposes Cleanup Plan For Polluted River Section (link to fact sheet).

Work in 2012 will focus on removal and treatment of a pollutant called dense non-aqueous phase liquid or DNAPL from SMAs 2, 3 and 6. Later this summer a clean cap will be placed over contaminated sediment at SMA 4 and 5 to isolate and stabilize it. You can read more about capping at Our Rivers Today newsletter. (link to current newsletter) It is anticipated that cleanup work at Segment 1 will be completed by 2013.

workers installing pipes.

Installing pipes upstream of an SMA. The pipes will make sure that floating debris does not damage wells where DNAPL removal will occur.

April 2012

The EPA Community Information Office is hosting an open house at their new and permanent location. The office is open to the public and serves as an information repository and public computer access for site documents and information. Visitors at the open house can meet staff and learn more about the cleanup plans for the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers. For more information contact Mary Breeden (breeden.mary@epa.gov) 989-401-5509.

Friday, April 27, 2012, 1-5 pm
and Saturday, April 28, 10am-2pm

804 S. Hamilton, Suite 3
Saginaw, MI

February 2012

EPA updated the Tittabawassee, Saginaw River and Bay Community Involvement Plan (CIP) for 2012. The CIP is a living document and is revised as necessary. Contents include:

Tittabawasssee, Saginaw River and Bay Community Involvement Plan (PDF) (98pp, 3.7MB) December 2011


2011

November 2011

EPA and Dow Chemical Co. signed a legal agreement on November 2, 2011 requiring Dow to clean up sediment in Segment 1, a three-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River next to Dow's Midland Plant. There are six Sediment Management Area (SMAs) identified within Segment 1 where chemical pollutants are targeted for cleanup. Most of the pollution in Segment 1 is from chlorobenzenes and other chemicals rather than dioxin. A form of the contamination, dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL), a heavy liquid made up of materials that do not mix with water and sinks to the bottom of the river, is targeted for cleanup in three of the SMAs. EPA selected its plan after carefully considering public comments. EPA's cleanup plan for each is as follows.

Materials will be treated and disposed at approved locations, sites will be monitored during and after the cleanup and the cleanup systems will operate and be maintained.

Related Documents

September 2011

EPA proposes cleanup plan for polluted river section

EPA has extended the comment period to September 15 on a proposed cleanup plan for contaminated sediment in "Segment 1" — a section of the Tittabawassee River located next to the Dow facility in Midland, Michigan. The sediment is contaminated with a number of chemical pollutants. Segment 1 is divided into several distinct areas called sediment management areas, or SMAs.

EPA is seeking public comment on the plan and on the supporting technical document "Tittabawassee River Segment 1 Response Proposal." Here is a summary of EPA’s recommended cleanup plan:

Related documents

August 2011

EPA, working with Michigan DEQ, is seeking public comment from August 1 – August 31 on a proposed cleanup plan for contaminated sediment in "Segment 1" — a section of the Tittabawassee River located next to the Dow facility in Midland, Michigan. The sediment is contaminated with a number of chemical pollutants. Segment 1 is divided into several distinct areas called sediment management areas, or SMAs.

EPA is seeking public comment on the plan and on the supporting technical document "Tittabawassee River Segment 1 Response Proposal." Here is a summary of EPA’s recommended cleanup plan:

The public had a chance to comment on the plan at a public meeting on Tuesday, August 16, 6:30 p.m., Saginaw Valley State University, Curtiss Hall, Seminar Room D&E, 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw.

EPA and MDEQ representatives were also available to talk to residents at an informal session Tuesday, August 16, 2–4 p.m. at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library 1710 W. Saint Andrews St., Midland.

Related links and documents

July 2011

EPA and Dow Chemical Co. signed a legal agreement July 8, 2011, requiring Dow to take early action to limit contaminated sediment from moving downstream from a small island in the Tittabawassee River, known as Island MM. EPA’s selected action to control dioxin movement from the island is to remove contaminated sediment, at a minimum that is located above the water surface. The remaining island sediment and nearby underwater areas will be capped. The cap will be designed to let the island restore itself naturally. The work will remove highly contaminated sediment and stop it from moving downstream. Based on public comment, EPA modified its proposed remedy to include a contingency that allows EPA to adjust the amount of sediment removed and the areas capped, based on studies of current conditions. EPA's responses to public comments can be found in the Responsiveness Summary, which is Appendix C to the below document called the Enforcement Action Memorandum.
Related links and documents:

June 2011

EPA and Dow Chemical Co. signed a legal agreement May 26, 2011, requiring Dow to carry out EPA's interim plan that is intended to limit human exposure to dioxin and furan contamination along the Tittabawassee River. EPA's selected plan calls for placing barriers such as ground cover over flood plain soil and moving or raising eligible land-use features such as gardens and recreation areas. EPA will oversee the work to make sure that the barriers remain effective. After careful review and consideration of public comments that were submitted about the interim plan, EPA decided to proceed with its original recommendations. The plan is aimed at areas that flood frequently, contain bare soil and are used by people. Since 2010, EPA has been evaluating properties in areas called Exposure Units or EUs. The signed plan will provide controls to limit people's contact while a final cleanup plan is developed for floodplain soil. You can find more information in the following documents.

Related links and documents

April 2011

EPA working with MDEQ is proposing a cleanup action on a small island in the Tittabawassee River to limit contaminated sediment from moving downstream. The island is located in a stretch of river known as Reach MM in a section of the site designated by EPA as Segment 5 (see Segment Map under Related Links and Documents below). The island contains high levels of dioxins and is eroding over time.

EPA recommends removing contaminated sediment located above the water surface combined with in-place containment of the remaining island sediment under a cap designed to let the island restore itself naturally. Nearby underwater sediment would also be capped as needed.

EPA is seeking public comment on the plan and on the supporting technical document called an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA).

The public will have a chance to comment on the plan at a public meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 28, 6:30 p.m. at Saginaw Valley State University, Curtiss Hall, Banquet Rooms B&C, 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw.

EPA and MDEQ representatives will also be available to talk to residents at an informal session Thursday, April 28, 2 - 4p.m. at the Thomas Township Library, 8207 Shields Drive, Saginaw.

Related links and documents

March 2011

Public comment period ends

On March 13, 2011, the comment period ended for the EPA proposed interim action plan to limit human exposure to dioxin and furan contamination in areas along the Tittabawassee River floodplain. EPA recommends placing a physical barrier such as ground cover over soils to limit contact, or raising land use features such as gardens and recreation areas out of the floodplain. The plan proposes short-term measures, until long-term solutions are implemented for floodplain soil. EPA is reviewing all public comments.

Related links and documents

February 2011

EPA Extends Public Comment Period

EPA, on request from the community, has extended the public comment period to March 13, 2011, for the proposed interim plan for high-use floodplain soil. EPA, working with Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, is proposing an interim action plan to limit human exposure to dioxin and furan contamination in areas along the Tittabawassee River floodplain. EPA recommends placing a physical barrier such as ground cover over soils to limit contact, or raising land use features such as gardens and recreation areas out of the floodplain. The plan proposes short-term measures, until long-term solutions are implemented for floodplain soil.

The proposed cleanup plan is explained in a fact sheet and more details about the plan can be found in a document called Task 1.4 Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis for Early Response Action to Address Potential Acute or Near Term Exposure Risks.

Comments on the proposed plan may be submitted online, by fax or in writing by March 13, 2011.

January 10, 2011

EPA working with MDNRE is proposing an interim action plan to limit human exposure to dioxin and furan contamination in areas along the Tittabawassee River floodplain. EPA recommends placing a physical barrier such as ground cover over soils to limit contact, or raising land use features such as gardens and recreation areas out of the floodplain. The plan proposes short-term measures, until long-term solutions are implemented for floodplain soil.

EPA is seeking public comment on the plan and on the supporting technical document called an Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis (EE/CA).

The public will have a chance to comment on the plan at a public meeting scheduled for Wednesday, January 19, 6:30 p.m. at Saginaw Valley State University , Curtiss Hall, Seminar Room D-G, 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw.

EPA and MDNRE representatives will also be available to talk to residents at informal sessions:

Related links and documents

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2010

December 16, 2010

Accelerated Projects Completed in 2010

Dow under EPA and DNRE oversight continues to evaluate and address potential erosion of contaminated river banks and sediment. This is a major activity under the Superfund agreement. Two projects to stabilize contaminant migration were completed in 2010 - ahead of EPA's original schedule:

Reach J Pilot Capping Study

A pilot capping study, intended to stabilize buried contaminants, was constructed at a sediment deposit at Reach J, about one mile downstream of the Dow plant. The project will evaluate an innovative approach to stabilize buried contaminants by placing a grid-shaped geocell material on top of the deposit and having clean material fill the grids and remain in place. Installation of the geocell caps was completed in the fall and monitoring is ongoing. See photos.

Reach O Bank Stabilization

A river bank at Reach O, about three miles downstream of the Dow plant was stabilized to prevent contaminant erosion from the bank into the river. The project uses several different erosion control technologies for short-term protection, while native vegetation grows. Ultimately, the roots of the native plants will hold soil in place and prevent bank erosion. Construction was completed in the fall and monitoring is ongoing. See photos.

Municipal Water Sampling Complete

EPA has completed its water sampling from the drinking water systems for Midland, Saginaw and Bay City. Sampling was done in response to some community concerns that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigational dredging in the Saginaw River might stir up contaminants that could move downstream and affect drinking water. EPA took baseline samples in 2009 while no dredging was occurring, and again in 2010 while the Corps of Engineer's dredging was underway. EPA tested for a wide range of chemicals including dioxins, furans, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics PCBs, pesticides and metals. A comparison of the baseline sampling results to the sampling results for when dredging was underway do not show a difference in water quality as a result of dredging. The results from both years were below EPA and Michigan DNRE's standards for drinking water safety.

May 2010 Water Supply Sampling Report (PDF) (256pp, 7.66MB) December 6, 2010

June 10, 2010

Technical Assistance Plan approved - application period through July 5

EPA has approved Dow's technical assistance plan for the site. This plan explains how the company will provide technical support resources to a qualified community group. Dow was required to develop such a plan as part of the January 2010 settlement. The selected group will receive help from an independent technical advisor to understand complex site issues and to communicate technical information in an understandable way. Applications from qualified groups are being taken through July 5. The application can be found as Exhibit A to the TAP.

Evaluation of high-use properties begins

Continuing to evaluate and address potential exposures on high-use properties along the rivers is one major activity under the Superfund agreement. The first phase has begun and you may see teams from EPA, Michigan DNRE and Dow working along the river evaluating properties. This work will continue in phases through summer and fall and into next year.

Municipal water sampling

Last year EPA agreed to take water samples from the drinking water systems for Midland, Saginaw and Bay City in response to some community concerns about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigational dredging in the Saginaw River. At issue is whether contaminants stirred up during dredging could move downstream and affect drinking water.
EPA took samples in 2009 after the Corps of Engineers finished dredging for the season. The results were below EPA's standards for drinking water safety. No dioxins or furans were found. EPA agreed to sample again in 2010 while dredging was underway. This second round of sampling was completed during the last week of May and results will be available later this summer.

EPA is testing for for a wide range of chemicals including dioxins, furans, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics, PCBs, pesticides and metals.

February 4, 2010

MDNRE Seeking Input on Proposed Change to Dow RCRA License

Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (MDNRE) is seeking public comment on a proposal to change the Dow Chemical Co. RCRA license. The proposed "major license modification" is part of the January 2010 agreement between EPA, MDEQ (now MDNRE) and Dow. The changes would allow Dow to meet some RCRA obligations by carrying out work specified in the 2010 agreement. The notice specifies how the public may provide comments. EPA is helping MDNRE with distribution of this notice to reach as broad an audience as possible. A public meeting is scheduled for March 11, 2010.

January 18, 2010

Compilation of written comments (PDF) (116pp, 8.5MB) (redacted to protect commenters' privacy) received during the comment period on the AOC

January 15, 2010

EPA/MDEQ Approve AOC, Continue Enhanced Community Engagement

EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality held a 60-day comment period which ended on December 17, 2009, on the proposed Superfund administrative order on consent with Dow Chemical Co. and received comments from more than 60 people and organizations. The majority of the comments were supportive, and many made suggestions on how the agencies should implement the agreement. Because the comments are primarily related to implementation of work under the settlement agreement, rather than to the agreement itself, the agencies decided not to reopen the settlement. Instead, in approving the agreement the agencies have committed to a number of community involvement activities, detailed in the fact sheet below.

January 13, 2010

EPA conclusions regarding citizen concerns on the dredged materials disposal facility (DMDF)

Over the past months, members of the Great Lakes Bay community have approached EPA with a number of concerns about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Saginaw River dredging project and its dredged materials disposal facility (DMDF). Many of the issues are outside EPA's jurisdiction, but the agency worked with the Corps of Engineers to respond to community concerns.

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2009

November 18, 2009

No dioxin contamination in samples from Saginaw, Midland and Bay City water supply systems

US EPA Region 5 said that results from a second round of samples collected from the Midland, Saginaw and Bay City, Mich., water supply systems show no dioxin or furan contamination. EPA rejected a previous round of unusable samples in early October 2009 due to laboratory contamination.

Baseline Post-Removal Sample Results for EU001 Riverside Boulevard

On Nov. 18, 2009, EPA released the baseline post-removal sampling data for EU001 Riverside Boulevard neighborhood. These samples were collected by Dow Chemical with oversight by EPA. Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) collected split samples during this sampling event. The samples collected by Dow Chemical as well as MDEQ's split samples detected dioxins. The dioxin concentrations detected ranged from 0.3 ppt TEQ - 90.2 ppt TEQ.

November 5 Meeting Transcript

November 12, 2009

CAG Membership Announced

Doug Sarno, an independent facilitator hired by EPA, today announced the membership of the community advisory group for the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Bay Superfund site. The members were selected by a six-person committee of local leaders.

Local Steering Committee Identifies Members for Community Advisory Board at the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River & Bay Superfund Site (PDF) (1pg, 104K)

November 10, 2009

Materials from the Nov. 5 Public Meeting

Here are materials from the Nov. 5 public meeting at Saginaw Valley State University:

October 22, 2009

Presentations from Oct. 20 meeting

These are the presentations used by EPA staff at the Oct. 20 public meeting:

October 16, 2009

EPA & MDEQ SEEK COMMENT ON PROPOSED DOW CHEMICAL AGREEMENT; PUBLIC MEETING NOV. 5

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality said today that they are seeking comments from the public on a proposed settlement with the Dow Chemical Co. The settlement involves the next steps in a comprehensive Superfund evaluation of dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River and Bay and their floodplains. All three organizations have approved the proposed settlement. A public comment period runs Oct. 19 to Nov. 17. (Note: the comment period has been extended to December 17, 2009.)

EPA and MDEQ will not sign the proposed agreement until after the agencies have engaged the community and fully considered public comment. The proposed agreement -- contained in a legal document called an administrative order on consent -- could be revised based on comments received. A public meeting will be held Nov. 5, 7 p.m., at Saginaw Valley State University, Curtiss Hall, Banquet Rooms A&B, 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw. EPA will hold a question-and-answer session and accept public comments at the meeting.

October 15, 2009

EPA Plans to Develop Interim Preliminary Remediation Goals for Dioxin in Soil

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking public comment on a plan to develop interim preliminary remediation goals (PRGs) for dioxin in soil at Superfund sites. The plan includes a review of current dioxin cleanup guidance that has been established by the EPA, states and other countries, including the latest fully peer-reviewed dioxin toxicity assessments. EPA will release the draft interim PRGs for public comment in December 2009, and anticipates issuing the final interim PRGs in June 2010. EPA is currently undertaking a reassessment of dioxin, the results of which are expected to be released by the end of 2010.

October 7, 2009

Public meeting about EPA's review of the UMDES

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will discuss its review of the University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study, known as the UMDES, that was performed in the Midland-Saginaw area. Representatives from EPA will present details about the review at a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at Saginaw Valley State University, Curtiss Hall, Banquet Rooms A&B, 7400 Bay Road, Saginaw.

October 5, 2009

EPA: SOME WATER SAMPLES FROM SAGINAW, MIDLAND AND BAY CITY UNUSABLE DUE TO LAB CONTAMINATION; RETESTING FOR FURANS TO BEGIN

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 said today that the results of some samples from the Midland, Saginaw and Bay City, Mich., water supply systems taken last July are faulty due to laboratory contamination. Test results showed low levels of furans in EPA's water samples. However, because the furans were also detected at similar concentrations in clean blank reference samples, EPA scientists quickly realized these results were actually caused by lab contamination. Since the results are unusable, EPA has contacted the cities to schedule a new round of sampling later this week.

September 30, 2009

EPA REVIEWS UNIV. OF MICHIGAN DIOXIN STUDY; FINDS LIMITED APPLICATION TO TITTABAWASSEE RIVER AND SAGINAW RIVER AND BAY

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Research and Development has completed its review of a dioxin exposure study conducted by the University of Michigan in the Midland-Saginaw, Michigan area. EPA found the study was conducted well and provided useful, scientifically credible information. However, the study is of limited value to help EPA fully evaluate human exposure to levels of dioxin in the Tittabawassee River and Saginaw River and Bay.

September 28, 2009

Negotiation Update #6: Negotiations Conclude, Proposed Agreement Reached

Negotiations between EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and The Dow Chemical Co. concluded on September 25, 2009. The negotiators believe they have reached agreement on an "administrative order on consent." EPA's June 2009 fact sheet, Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site (PDF) (2pp, 72K), provides more details about the topics that were discussed during the negotiations.

The proposed agreement must now be presented by the negotiators to their respective senior management. EPA and MDEQ are expecting Dow to sign the proposed agreement by October 15, 2009. EPA and MDEQ will not decide whether or not to sign any agreement until after they have considered public comment. After the company has signed the agreement, EPA and MDEQ will hold a comment period to give members of the public a formal opportunity to review and comment on the proposed agreement.

Anticipated Next Steps for Public Participation:

September 25, 2009

Get Involved! CAG applications now available

EPA is moving forward with the formation of a community advisory group for the Dow Superfund site.

Applications are now available for membership on the CAG and are due to EPA no later than Oct. 16, 2009.

EPA has identified a steering committee that will review the application forms and select the membership for the Dow site CAG. The five steering committee members — who will not be eligible to serve on the CAG — were selected from nominations received from the community.

All area stakeholders are invited and encouraged to submit an application for membership on the CAG. More information and applications are available at www.epa.gov/region5/sites/dowchemical/ or by calling Jeff Kelley at 312-353-1159.

Completed applications should be mailed to (or dropped off at):

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
111 S. Michigan Ave. (LL015)
Saginaw, MI 48602

Applications can also be faxed to 312-697-2568 or emailed to krause.patricia@epa.gov.

September 18, 2009

Negotiation Update #5: Negotiations Nearing Completion

EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the Natural Resource Trustees have held several conference calls with The Dow Chemical Co. since negotiations were extended on Aug. 24. The negotiations will continue at least until Sept. 25, 2009. EPA is not expecting to extend this deadline. EPA will provide an update on the outcome of the negotiations the week of Sept. 28, 2009.

EPA's June 2009 fact sheet Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site (PDF) (2pp, 72K) provides more details about the topics that are being discussed during the negotiations.

September 14, 2009

EPA has selected the steering committee that will convene a community advisory group for the Dow site. The five steering committee members — who will not be eligible to serve on the CAG — were selected from nominations received from the community:

EPA staff and facilitator Doug Sarno will meet with the committee later this week to discuss their role. The first job for the steering committee will be developing an application for community members interested in participating on the CAG. The applications should be available next week and will be due in mid-October.
More information about the CAG is available below under the August 21 update.

September 9, 2009

Technical Staff Hired for EPA Community Information Office

On Oct. 5, 2009, Diane Russell will join EPA as a Superfund remedial project manager based at the Agency's Saginaw community information office. She will work primarily on the cleanup of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and Saginaw Bay. Diane was hired through a Detroit job fair organized by the federal Office of Personnel Management.

Diane is a life-long Michigander who majored in earth science and geophysics at Western Michigan University. After getting her degree, she moved to the mid-Michigan area to work as a science teacher and later accepted a position with one of EPA's contractors, Weston Solutions of Michigan. During her time with Weston, Diane has worked on several projects for EPA, including Hurricane Katrina cleanup efforts, the Great Lakes Legacy Act project in Sault Ste. Marie and the removal actions at Riverside Blvd. and West Michigan Park.

August 25, 2009

Negotiation Update #4: Negotiations Extended

EPA has extended the negotiation period for a Superfund "administrative order on consent" with The Dow Chemical Co. On Aug. 24, 2009, EPA notified Dow that because progress had been made during negotiation discussions, it was appropriate to extend the Aug. 25 deadline. EPA's new deadline to conclude negotiations is Sept. 25, 2009.

EPA, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and the natural resource trustees will continue discussions with Dow through a series of conference calls. EPA will provide another update on the negotiations the week of Sept. 14, 2009. EPA's fact sheet, "Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site," provides more details about the topics that are being discussed during the negotiations.

August 21, 2009

Community Advisory Group update

Thanks to everyone who participated in the Aug. 15 CAG workshop. We know that some people wanted to participate, but had other commitments. There is still time to provide input. This update includes a brief recap of the meeting and information on how you can provide input on the topics discussed.

Documents: Following are links to the materials that were shared at the meeting.

Interests: For a community advisory group to be effective, it needs to be balanced and represent all the different viewpoints in a community. For such a geographically large site, it becomes difficult to make sure all the interests are represented while keeping the group a manageable size. Much of the discussion at the workshop centered on what interests should be represented. EPA distributed a draft list of possible interests in the community and then asked the meeting participants to discuss and provide feedback on the list (a link to the draft list is above). If you missed the workshop and want to share your ideas — or attended but have more thoughts — feel free to send them in an email to kelley.jeff@epa.gov by Sept. 4.

Steering Committee: The other big topic discussed at the workshop was the means of convening the CAG. EPA proposed selected a small steering committee (4-5 members) that would choose CAG members from applications. The steering committee would also be balanced to represent the whole community. Steering committee members would not serve on the CAG. The consensus from meeting participants was that this approach was a good way to get the CAG started, so EPA asked workshop participants to fill out forms (see above) nominating respected members of the community to serve on the steering committee. There is still time to make nominations for the Steering Committee. If you would like to serve on the Steering Committee, or if you are aware of someone who is a leader in the community that you believe would work to make sure the CAG has a balanced membership, please let us know in an email to kelley.jeff@epa.gov by Sept. 4.

CAG Members: At the meeting EPA also provided a short form for individuals who are interested in getting an application to be a member of the CAG. To make things easier, just send an email to kelley.jeff@epa.gov if you would like to receive an application.

Questions? Concerns? This is a very short summary of 3-hours of discussion. If you have questions about the workshop or would like to discuss the CAG process, please get in touch with Jeff Kelley (312-353-1159, kelley.jeff@epa.gov) or Don de Blasio (312-886-4360, deblasio.don@epa.gov).

August 20, 2009

Negotiation Update #3: Negotiation Meeting Update

During the week of August 10, 2009, EPA and MDEQ held a multi-day negotiation meeting with The Dow Chemical Co. The most significant topics were:

The Natural Resource Damage Trustees were also represented during the meeting. In Superfund, responsibility for protection of natural resources falls with federal, state, and tribal trustees. This is because no one individual "owns" a natural resource; rather, they are held in trust for the public. More information is online .

EPA, MDEQ and the trustees have conference calls scheduled with Dow the week of August 17, 2009, to continue discussions. The negotiations will continue at least until August 25, 2009. EPA may extend this deadline if progress has been made in the negotiations. EPA will provide another update on the negotiations the week of August 24, 2009. EPA's fact sheet, "Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site," provides more details about the topics that will be discussed during the negotiations.

August 15, 2009

July 23, 2009

Municipal Water Sampling

Community members have raised questions about U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigational dredging in the Saginaw River. The concern is whether sediments re-suspended during the dredging will move downstream into Saginaw Bay and affect drinking water intakes. In response to this concern EPA agreed to testing at the water plants for Midland, Saginaw and Bay City. (Midland and Saginaw share a water intake in Saginaw Bay, but have separate drinking water treatment plants.)

EPA is planning two rounds of sampling. One round of sampling will be collected during a period of no dredging activity and the second round will be collected while dredging is underway. Samples will be collected of both the water entering the municipal water treatment systems and of the treated water sent to the communities. EPA plans to analyze the samples for a wide range of chemicals including dioxins, furans, volatile organics, semi-volatile organics, PCBs, pesticides and metals.

EPA is scheduled to collect the first round of samples the week of July 27, 2009. These samples will be collected during a period of no dredging activity since the Corps of Engineers stopped dredging the week of July 6, 2009. EPA's schedule for collecting samples while dredging is underway is dependent upon when the dredging resumes. EPA will provide an update when the schedule for collecting theses samples has been finalized.

July 21, 2009

Negotiation Update #2: Negotiation Meeting Update

During the week of July 13, 2009, EPA and MDEQ held a multi-day negotiation meeting with The Dow Chemical. The most significant topics were:

The Natural Resource Damage Trustees were represented during the meeting. In Superfund, responsibility for protection of natural resources falls with federal, state, and tribal trustees. This is because no one individual "owns" a natural resource; rather, they are held in trust for the public. More information is online

EPA, MDEQ and the trustees are tentatively scheduled to meet with Dow in August to continue discussions. EPA will provide another update on the negotiations after that meeting. The negotiations will continue at least until August 25, 2009. EPA may extend this deadline if progress is being made during the negotiations. EPA's fact sheet, "Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site," provides more details about the topics that will be discussed during the negotiations.

EPA Workshop to Discuss Community Advisory Group

Please join us at a public workshop to discuss the formation of a community advisory group for the Superfund cleanup of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and Saginaw Bay (Dow site). The workshop will be from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Aug. 15.

A Superfund community advisory group or CAG is a way for people in the community to participate in providing coordinated, local input to the decision-making process at Superfund sites. It is a forum for community members to present and discuss their needs and concerns related to Superfund cleanup projects. A CAG assists U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in making better decisions by providing the Agency a unique opportunity to hear and seriously consider community preferences for site cleanups.

At large and complex Superfund projects like the Dow site, CAGs can serve a critical role in ensuring all community issues are understood and considered. CAGs also work as a conduit making sure needed information is provided to area residents. EPA wants to work with the local communities to establish a CAG for this site.

West Michigan Park cleanup completed

EPA has finished work at Saginaw Township's West Michigan Park. The cleanup got underway on April 27 and included the removal of more than 17,000 tons of dioxin-contaminated soil. Last week contractors finished up by installing guardrails and paving the parking lot and by planting 5,000 native plants along the shoreline. The park will be reopened after the new grass and plants have had time to get reestablished — likely by mid-August.

June 29, 2009

Negotiation Update #1: Negotiations Resume

EPA is resuming negotiations with Dow Chemical for a Superfund "administrative order on consent." On Friday, June 26, 2009, EPA notified Dow that the offer the company submitted to EPA on February 13, 2009, is sufficient to continue the negotiation process. EPA's fact sheet "Superfund Process and Negotiations at the Dow Site" provides more details about the topics that will be discussed.

EPA is tentatively scheduled to meet with MDEQ and Dow to begin discussions in mid-July. EPA will provide an update on the negotiations after this meeting. The negotiations will continue at least until August 25, 2009. EPA may extend this deadline if progress is being made during the negotiations.

June 24, 2009

West Michigan Park update

About 17,310 tons of contaminated soil has been removed from West Michigan Park and transported it to People's municipal Landfill in Birch Run Michigan for disposal. The removal was carried out by The Dow Co. with oversight by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. As of June 24, 2009, 100 percent of the park has been excavated and backfilled. As part of activities,the stream bank has been given a more gradual slope and the new bank has been stabilized using native plants. During resloping, two trees were removed at the riverbank and stone was placed at the toe of the slope to prevent erosion. Gravel access paths and pads have been placed to allow access to the riverbank for park users. Six trees were replanted throughout the park and the park has been reseeded. When vegetation is re-established the playground equipment will be re-installed and the park will be reopened to the public for use. The area in which the playground equipment will be replaced has been raised one foot from its original height. The gravel driveway and parking lot have been excavated and backfilled with certified clean fill. The parking lot driveway will be paved with asphalt. Implementation of the barrier control plans associated with the Elevated Contamination Areas 1-6 are continuing and are expected to be completed by July 1.

June 19, 2009

Fact sheets and presentations from the June 17, 2009, public meeting:

May 26, 2009

Following a series of stakeholder meetings in March, on May 26 EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the approach EPA will take in its ongoing effort to address dioxin issues in the Tri-Cities area. Details are in a news release issued by EPA Headquarters, a letter to residents and a document on the reinvigorated dioxin reassessment.

April 24, 2009

On April 1, EPA and the Michigan Department of Community Health launched a partnership with the Saginaw County Public Health Department and three other local organizations to make sure that vulnerable populations are better informed and more aware of any potential risks associated with fish consumption. Vulnerable populations include women of childbearing years, children and those who rely on local fish for sustenance. EPA provided $75,000 for the "Fish Smart, Eat Smart" program, which will be more than matched by in-kind contributions from local partners. EPA and MDCH officials will participate in the next Tri-Cities Dioxin Community Meeting on May 6 and will discuss this outreach program in more depth with interested residents.

For more information: www.mi.gov/fishandgameadvisory/Exit EPA Disclaimer

April 10, 2009

To address concerns about EPA's current approach at the site, Administrator Lisa Jackson dispatched a high-level team from her office and EPA Region 5 to meet with groups and report back about concerns and options for addressing the site. EPA has suspended the negotiation process. Administrator Jackson will make a decision on how to proceed.

EPA Administrator Jackson letter re: dioxin contamination in Saginaw Bay Watershed (PDF ) (2pp, 92K)

March 2009

Dow Chemical will start cleanup at Saginaw Township's West Michigan Park and nearby properties in April. West Michigan Park is located three miles upstream from where the Tittabawassee and Shiawassee rivers flow together. As a result of flooding, dioxin contaminated river sediment has settled in the area. Cleanup and restoration activities are expected completed with the park re-opening in June.

Dow will give EPA a detailed work plan by March 13 and if EPA approves the plan, it will oversee Dow's cleanup of the 5-acre park. Cleanup actions will include digging up 12 inches of soil, backfilling with clean soil, paving the park's driveway and parking lot, and elevating playground equipment. Cleanup work will also address contaminated "hot spots" at River Forest Condominium complex to the west and several residential lots east of the park.

Additionally, as part of the agreement, Dow will perform a limited study on how residents use the southern portion of their property in the floodplain of the river and near the shoreline. Results of the study will be reviewed by EPA, the Agency for Toxic Substances, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the Michigan Department of Community Health. If EPA and partners determine that the southern portion of property exposes residents to dioxin-contaminated soil, a barrier control plan will be developed and put in place to minimize this pathway of exposure.

January 2009

EPA, MDEQ and The Dow Chemical Company are involved in negotiations to investigate and then clean up dioxin and other contaminants lying in sediment in and along the banks of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and in Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron.

EPA issued a Special Notice Letter (PDF) (9pp, 152K) December 15, 2008, calling on parties to negotiate a process that can be used to develop a comprehensive cleanup for the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers as well as Saginaw Bay. The talks will be taking place over the next 60 days, but the timeline can be extended by an additional 30 days if progress is being made.

EPA and MDEQ hosted an open meeting on Thursday, January 15 at Saginaw Valley State University as an opportunity for the public to learn more about what is being done about contamination in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and in Saginaw Bay.

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