Michigan environmental regulators say they've reached a long-sought deal with Dow Chemical Co. for cleaning up about 1,400 residential properties in Midland, where decades of airborne emissions from a Dow plant contaminated the soil with dioxin.
Dow Chemical says it is informing owners of approximately 50 properties in a commercial area near the Michigan Operations manufacturing site about a voluntary property purchase program.
Earlier today, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality announced the proposed plan to resolve the dioxin issue in the city of Midland. The agreement follows a deal reached last fall on cleansing a three-mile stretch of the Tittabawassee River near the plant.
Dow said it is offering a property purchase program to give property owners in the immediate area north and east of Michigan Operations (see map on right) the option to move out of an industrial/commercial area to a residential area, if they so choose.
The program will also offer relocation support for those who rent their homes, if the property owner participates in the program.
"We see this as an opportunity to address land use near our manufacturing site and give people still living in this industrial/commercial area the choice to move elsewhere," said Rich A. Wells, vice president and site director for Dow's Michigan Operations.
Dow said it has retained Community Interaction Consulting Inc., a real estate services company, to administer the property purchase program and help property owners and renters understand their options.
Studies indicate that there is dioxin contamination in some parts of Midland as a result of airborne emissions from Dow's historic waste management practices. The DEQ is responsible for determining appropriate cleanup levels where corrective action is required, as part of the state's authorization to implement the federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act.
"This proposed plan represents tremendous effort by the many partners gathered to address Midland's dioxin issue," said DEQ Director Dan Wyant. "The proposal is just the beginning of the work that lies ahead. I commend Dow officials for their commitment to the community and Michigan's environment, and we look forward to working with them on this effort."
The 50 properties eligible for the program are located within the resolution area outlined in the proposed dioxin agreement announced by the DEQ. Property owners who choose not to relocate will be offered testing and remediation of their properties if necessary, according to officials.
Dow said it will donate acquired properties to Midland Tomorrow, the nonprofit economic development entity serving Midland County.
A March 1 public information meeting is scheduled at 6:30 p.m. at Central Middle School Auditorium in Midland to present details of the proposed plan. Representatives from the DEQ and Dow will be available to answer questions.
Dow has acknowledged polluting 50 miles of rivers and floodplains in Michigan with dioxin for much of the past century. Negotiations and studies with state and federal agencies on how to fix the damage have dragged on since the mid-1990s.
Dow has also established the Midland Resolution Center at 1008 Jefferson Avenue to serve as a resource for property owners. Beginning Feb. 21, CIC representatives will be available at the Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.