EPA and Midland work to share information and protect residents’ privacy
At a meeting Thursday in Chicago, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 and the City of Midland officials discussed a proposal on the specific types of dioxin sampling information the city could provide to help EPA do its job while respecting the privacy of Midland residents.
EPA made it clear that it requires specific relevant information about sampling protocol and spacial distribution of data points - without identifying specific property locations or property owners.
“Ultimately, EPA’s interest in this sampling information is to assure that the health of Midland’s residents is protected,” said Ralph Dollhopf, Associate Director of EPA’s Superfund Division. “At the same time, EPA respects that the city must balance its concern regarding the health of its citizens with its commitment to protect their privacy. Having sampling details that we think the city can provide without revealing property owner identity will help EPA confidently evaluate the results of recent soil studies. I think that our meeting Thursday resulted in both parties’ recognition and acknowledgement that our objectives are compatible. We are on the road to working this out.”
As part of the study, soil samples were taken at 145 sites in Midland.
The sampling analysis is necessary so EPA has a complete and current picture of dioxin in the city. It is crucial to EPA’s efforts to accurately assess any potential current risk posed by dioxin in the city.
EPA’s information request is part of a larger investigation of dioxin contamination in the Midland area. In mid-August, EPA issued two requests to Dow Chemical Co. seeking information about its dioxin sampling at its facility and elsewhere. EPA is also seeking extensive data on numerous other hazardous waste materials produced at the Dow Midland plant.
As a result of EPA orders in late June, Dow is cleaning up three hot spots in the Tittabawasee River. EPA expects the cleanups to be completed by this year’s end and set the stage for additional work downriver.
The Dow facility is a 1,900-acre chemical manufacturing plant located in Midland, Mch. 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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