Dow Chemical has begun work to remove contaminated sediments from the Tittabawassee River, downstream from its 1,900-acre manufacturing complex in Midland, Mich. The sediments are contaminated with high levels of dioxins, furans, chlorobenzenes, metals and other materials.
Work began on July 9 after the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Army Corps of Engineers issued a revised permit for Dow to construct a steel coffer dam to contain the materials and facilitate their removal from the river.
The permit was revised to address three dioxin "hot spots" discovered along the upper 6 miles of the Tittabawassee River last November. The areas of concern are subject to flooding and erosion that could spread the contamination, according to DEQ.
Dow promised to take corrective action in 2003, but progress "has taken too long," the Environmental Protection Agency alleged in a June 27 notice. EPA ordered Dow to begin field work by Aug. 15 (C&EN, July 9, page 28).
A Dow spokesman says the company has been working with state officials for some time to design and implement a cleanup plan. "Some work where we had the authorization to go ahead had already gotten under way. But some of the work in the river itself wasn't permitted yet, so we really couldn???t go full-scale," he says.
DEQ says the dam will be removed at the end of the project. Dow has also been building a mile-and-a-half-long pipeline and a sediment dewatering facility on its plant site during the past several months. After dewatering, the sediments will be disposed of in a company landfill.