Officials to meet Saturday with Granholm

Kathie Marchlewski , Midland Daily News


It's an environmental issue, an economic one and, as some Midland residents have suspected, dioxin contamination is a political matter.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm will break from the Detroit Regional Chamber annual conference on Mackinac Island Saturday to meet with state and federal lawmakers who want to be certain that as state leader, she is aware of the dioxin situation that has settled into the Saginaw Valley.

Congressman Dave Camp, along with state Sens. Mike Goschka and Tony Stamas and state Reps. Jim Howell, John Moolenaar and Sandy Caul, earlier this week requested a Friday morning meeting with the governor in Lansing.

Camp spoke with Granholm Wednesday and made arrangements to meet over the weekend. The time and location for the meeting has not been decided.

"I had a good conversation with the Governor and I am pleased she was willing to meet this weekend," Camp said. "This issue impacts our health, our jobs and our homes. There is simply too much at stake for the Governor not to be aware of every last detail of the DEQ's plan and how it will impact those of us living in Midland."

At a city-sponsored community meeting for Midland residents May 26, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Chester told residents that soils northeast of Dow's Michigan Operations site soon will be tested for dioxin contamination.

Properties found to have levels that exceed the state's residential direct contact criteria of 90 parts per trillion would be labeled "facilities," a designation that would require property owners to disclose information to potential buyers and could limit use and lower property values. Remediation plans would follow.

The City of Midland estimates that nearly 9,000 homes and 21,000 people -- nearly half the city's population -- could be affected if the historical contaminant reaches as far as two miles from the plant. Previous tests show it might.

The group of local lawmakers wants Granholm to make the handling of dioxin along the Tittabawassee River flood plain and in Midland soils a top priority, noting the issue is vital to the economic future of the area.

In a letter marked "urgent" and presented to Granholm Tuesday, the six officials referenced Granholm's State of the State address, in which she told the people of Michigan that business cannot afford to be unnecessarily slowed by environmental regulations.

"We are fearful that the DEQ's plan for Midland and Saginaw would kill economic investment and drive away high-paying manufacturing jobs," the letter stated.

©Midland Daily News 2004

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