Energy & Environment

Michigan flooding risks damage to hazardous waste sites: report

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Aerial view of the Tittabawassee River after it breached a nearby dam on May 20, 2020 in Sanford, Michigan. Thousands of residents have been ordered to evacuate after two dams in Sanford and Edenville collapsed causing water from the Tittabawassee River to flood nearby communities.

Floodwaters that tore through two Michigan dams Tuesday now pose a larger environmental risk as they encroach on hazardous waste sites owned by chemical giant Dow, according to The New York Times.

Water from the Tittabawassee River near Midland, Mich., has already reached retaining ponds full of brine at the company’s complex where it still produces plastic and other chemicals.

“The material from the brine pond does not create any risk to residents or the environment,” the company wrote in a notice to residents. 

But further downriver lie the results of decades of Dow pollution being dumped into the Tittabawassee, and a surge of water could stir up contaminated sediment, further spreading the pollution. Designated a federal Superfund site, the project to clean the river was set to be completed next year.

The dioxins emitted while producing a number of Dow products are linked with cancer, immune system damage and developmental problems. 

Dow told the Times the company had implemented its flood management plan and that staff remained on site to manage any issues as a result of the flooding.

“Dow has also been and remains in close communication with EPA and state agencies and is working with them on a plan for immediate action following this flood event,” the company told The Hill by email. 

“This plan includes an inspection of each remediation project along the Tittabawassee River as flood waters recede. We will continue to follow sampling protocols to ensure the proper operation of our environmental facilities.”

Michigan is home to a number of Superfund sites, many of which are close to rivers that could be impacted by flooding. 

Tags Dow Michigan Superfund sites
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more

Video

See all Video