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EPA to Dow Chemical: 60 day clock to negotiate on Tittabawassee River system cleanup starts today

Release Date: 10/10/2007
Contact Information: Mick Hans, 312-353-5050, Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391,

No. 07-OPA175

(Chicago, Ill. - Oct. 10, 2007) At a meeting today in Chicago, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 formally notified Dow Chemical that it has a limited opportunity to negotiate with the Agency on a settlement to conduct an investigation, a study and interim response actions for dioxin contamination in the Tittabawassee River system. The Midland, Mich., company has until Oct. 17 to decide whether it will negotiate.

The targeted area begins upstream of Dow's Midland Plant and may extend downstream to the Saginaw River, its floodplains and portions of Saginaw Bay in Lake Huron.

EPA has the authority to call for negotiations under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, or Superfund. Superfund specifies the process in which a remedial investigation/ feasibility study (RI/FS), cleanup removal actions and remedy design must be conducted.

"The Superfund law provides a strong mechanism to continue necessary actions to comprehensively and definitively address the issue of dioxin contamination in the river system," said Ralph Dollhopf, associate director of EPA's Regional Superfund Division. "The work begun this summer to address three hot spots in the Tittabawassee River is also being performed under Superfund authority."

Dow's expected RI/FS effort must evaluate the nature and extent of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants from the site and assess the risks they present to human health and the environment. It must also provide enough data to develop and evaluate a range of cleanup options.

If the company agrees begin negotiations, Dow will have until Dec. 10 to present EPA with a good faith offer demonstrating its willingness to conduct or finance an RI/FS and design a remedy. EPA may choose to extend negotiations until Jan. 9, 2008, if appropriate.

Top EPA and Michigan Department of Environmental Quality officials are meeting today in Lansing to discuss their respective roles throughout this process.

Dow's Midland facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant. Dioxins and furans were byproducts from the manufacture of chlorine-based products. Past waste disposal practices, fugitive emissions and incineration at Dow have resulted in on- and off-site dioxin and furan contamination.

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