U.S. EPA REGION 5
Congressional District # 08
TITTABAWASSEE RIVER, SAGINAW RIVER & BAYEPA ID# MID980994354
Last Updated: May, 2015
Site DescriptionThe Tittabawassee River/Saginaw River & Bay Site includes areas in and along a 24-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River south of the confluence of the Chippewa River, the 22-mile Saginaw River, and portions of the 1,143 square mile Saginaw Bay. The rivers and floodplains include natural, commercial, residential, and agricultural areas of Midland, Saginaw, and Bay Counties in Michigan. The Saginaw Bay watershed is one of Michigan's most diverse areas – its rich resources support agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, outdoor recreation, and a vast variety of wildlife. At this time it is unknown how much of the bay will need to be addressed. Dioxins and furans are the primary contaminants in sediment, riverbanks, and floodplain soil. These contaminants came from historical releases from the Dow Chemical Company’s Midland Plant. The City of Midland and the Midland Plant are not part of the Superfund Site because they are being addressed through Dow’s RCRA Hazardous Waste Management Facility Operating License issued by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ).
The Site has been separated into two parts called operable units (OUs). The first operable unit (OU1) includes the Tittabawassee River and about 5 miles of the Upper Saginaw River, including the 6th Street turning basin. The second operable unit (OU2) includes the Lower Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay.
Site ResponsibilityThis Site is a Superfund alternative site being addressed through responsible parties' actions with federal and state oversight.
Threats and ContaminantsFloodplain soil, riverbanks, and sediment at the Site are contaminated with dioxins and furans. Dioxins and furans can bioaccumulate – meaning that these chemicals build up in the food chain. Eating contaminated fish and game, as well as frequent direct contact with contaminated soil or sediment are the primary exposure routes of concern to humans. Dioxins and furans may cause cancer or other health effects in humans. An additional 200 contaminants are monitored at the Site, including chlorobenzenes, parathions, chlorophenols, polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), and arsenic. Fish consumption and wild game advisories for the Site were first issued in 1979 by the Michigan Department of Community Health and are still in effect.
Human access to the water bodies and sediment at the Site is unrestricted. Human access to floodplain areas varies, depending on the land use. Wildlife in the area also has unrestricted access. The Site is subject to flooding and erosion, particularly during high stream flow events. This may spread contamination to other locations within the floodplain, as well as downstream.
Cleanup ProgressEPA and MDEQ are taking a unique approach at the Site – combining EPA’s Superfund program and MDEQ’s RCRA Hazardous Waste program to optimize cleanup of five areas: Dow’s Midland Plant, the City of Midland, the Tittabawassee River, the Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay. MDEQ has the lead on the city and the Midland Plant, and EPA has the lead on the rivers and bay, but both agencies are working as partners to complete the job.
EPA and MDEQ are overseeing work by the Dow Chemical Co. that will lead to the comprehensive cleanup of the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Bay.
The Agencies targeted cleanup of soil, sediment and riverbank areas in and along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers. As of the end of 2014, more than 130,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil and river sediment were removed and safely disposed of. The amount of material removed could fill a football field five stories high. More than 4,000 gallons of DNAPL – a highly contaminated heavy liquid – were removed from the river bottom and destroyed. Four acres of contaminated river sediment were capped. And more than 1 mile of riverbank was made stable. Following is a summary of those cleanup projects:
- Reach B soil (2007) – more than 19,000 cubic yards of bank soil were removed.
- Reach D sediment (2007) – about 19,000 cubic yards of waste, debris, and sediment were removed. More than 59,340,000 gallons of water were treated at Dow’s Waste Water Treatment Plant.
- Reach J/K riverbank (2007) – about 33,000 cubic yards of soil were removed from the river bank. About 1,800 feet of bank were capped and restored with trees and vegetation.
- Reach O sediment (2007) – more than 16,000 cubic yards of sediment were removed. About 96,900 gallons water were treated and discharged. About 200 feet of river bank were stabilized.
- Wickes Park sediment (2007 & 2008) – about 700 cubic yards of sediment were removed.
- Riverside Boulevard soil (2008) – about 20,000 cubic yards of soil were removed from this residential area. The area was replaced with clean soil and restored. Some of the affected homes were cleaned inside and some roads were paved.
- Reach M riverbank (2008-2009) – using green technology, 1,600 ft of bank were made stable.
- Reach B sediment (2009) – about 42,000 square feet of contaminated sediment were capped.
- West Michigan Park soil and riverbank (2009) – more than 14,000 cubic yards of soil were removed from a park, new playground equipment was installed, and a driveway and parking lot were paved. About 700 feet of river bank were stabilized. Barrier controls were installed at six nearby residential areas.
- Reach O riverbank (2010) – nearly 500 feet of river bank was stabilized using different erosion control technologies for short-term protection, while native vegetation grows and ultimately stabilizes the bank.
- Reach J sediment (2010) – more than 12,000 square feet of river sediment were capped using innovative technology that places a grid-shaped geocell material on top of the deposit to create a natural cap.
- Island MM sediment (2011) – a small island in the Tittabawassee River, Island MM, was removed (about 260 cubic yards of sediment and soil). About 8,800 square feet of river sediment were capped. The cap was designed to let the island restore itself naturally.
- Tittabawassee River floodplain soil (2011-current) – barrier controls were placed at 46 eligible properties to-date to limit people’s contact with bare floodplain soil that may contain elevated levels of dioxins and furans. Work continues at homes along the Tittabawassee River.
- Reach K sediment (2012) – about 19,000 square feet of river sediment were capped using the innovative grid-shaped geocell capping technology on top of the deposit.
- Segment 1 sediment (2012-2014) – more than 4,200 gallons of DNAPL were removed from the bottom of the river sediment and destroyed. About 89,000 square feet of contaminated river sediment were capped in a 3-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River adjacent to the Dow Chemical Co. Plant in Midland.
- Reach N riverbank (2013) – About 1,200 feet of bank were stabilized using low impact technologies.
- Segment 2 sediment and riverbank (2014-2015) – Work began in 2014 to cleanup dioxin-contaminated sediment and riverbanks in a 4-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River downstream of Segment 1. Work will be complete in 2015, as three more riverbank areas are stabilized.
- Tittabawassee River Floodplain (2015) - EPA selected a cleanup plan for the Tittabawassee floodplain. Floodplain cleanup will start this summer and will be a multi-year project. The floodplain includes approximately 4,500 acres and portions of more than 700 property parcels. EPA’s cleanup plan will ensure that people are safe when they come in contact with floodplain soil. Not all areas in the floodplain will need a cleanup. There will be a property-by-property comparison to the site-specific cleanup numbers to establish which properties need work. If dioxin levels in surface soil at a property are higher than the appropriate cleanup number(s), cleanup is required.
Community InvolvementEPA, working with MDEQ, is committed to community involvement activities at the Site that are robust and go far beyond what is required by law. Activities include:
- EPA has developed a community involvement plan that will evolve over time to reflect changing community needs.
- EPA opened its Saginaw Community Information Office to provide additional service to the community.
- EPA and MDEQ are working closely with the community advisory group (CAG) that was formed to represent all the diverse points of view within the community. The CAG generally meets monthly and is open to the public.
- Technical assistance is being provided to the community through a “technical assistance plan” administered by the CAG. This TAP started off with $50,000, with more funding available as required.
- EPA and MDEQ will continue to work with the broader community.
- EPA is working with local partners to provide information on fishing advisories and Site activities.
- Information on the progress of the work is made available on a routine basis, in plain, understandable language.
- Routine updates are posted to the Web site and announced through the listserv.
- Large public meetings — and less formal, small group meetings — are scheduled as appropriate, based on public interest.
ContactsRemedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
mary logan (email@example.com)