Granholm talks

Kathie Marchlewski , Midland Daily News


According to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Midland is anything but a "cool city." In fact, the dioxin dilemma in the city is downright hot.

"I am very well aware of the heightened tensions," she told the Daily News Thursday. "My hope is to turn down the temperature on this very hot issue."

Plans for handling contamination attributed to The Dow Chemical Co.'s historical manufacturing processes has state and federal local lawmakers representing the area calling the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality "out of control" and calling on Granholm to rein in the administration.

She agrees that everyone needs to "take a deep breath" and "slow down."

The DEQ in recent weeks has been criticized by residents and lawmakers for not including common sense or science in its plans to remediate dioxin in Midland soils.

Department director Steve Chester told a group of about 1,700 Midlanders at a community meeting that properties with dioxin levels exceeding the state standard of 90 parts per trillion could be labeled "facilities." The designation could limit use of land and require sellers to disclose the information, potentially devaluing property.

Mitigation could follow.

DEQ officials have said soil testing would begin in areas northeast of Dow's Michigan Operations plant site within weeks. The company's remediation plans for Midland soils and the Tittabawassee river are under review by the department and approval with modifications is expected by mid-June. Among the changes is a "compression" of Dow's proposed timeline.

The governor said she has been "meeting extensively" with Chester since hearing the outcry from Midlanders and lawmakers who attended the community meeting.

"We need to slow down on all fronts," she said. "We're not going to proceed unless we have an agreed-upon plan. Any action taken must be an action taken in partnership with the community and company. It's got to be based on logic and sound science and cannot be based on emotion from either side."

Chester has been asked to work with Dow and to present a plan of action to Granholm next week. "We're working with the company to ensure there is a balance of protection," she said. "We need to come up with the precise mechanism for testing -- if it is done."

Granholm will meet with Camp, Moolenaar, Stamas, Sen. Mike Goschka and Reps. Sandy Caul and Jim Howell on Saturday to discuss the matter further. She will appear in Midland Tuesday during her five-day "Travel Michigan hidden treasures showcase."

Some Midlanders -- including those who have formed Midland Matters, a resident group united to speak out on the dioxin issue -- have expressed frustration about Granholm's visit. Her trip will include a ride down the rail-trail, but not a conversation with the community about dioxin.

"That would be counterproductive," she responded, adding the purpose of her bicycle ride is to promote the city as a tourist destination.

"Talking about dioxin would not particularly be in Midland's best interest," she said. "We want to put on the best face for Midland."

Granholm said she does plan to return to the city for the dioxin discussion in the future.

"We want to resolve this in a way that does not harm the community, the company or the environment," she said. "I don't want to accelerate something that doesn't need to be accelerated. We don't want to expend dollars unnecessarily and we don't want to turn our backs on something that might be a risk to health or the environment."

©Midland Daily News 2004

For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawasse River Watch web site for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga. . The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.