The Dow of Poo
Outgoing Michigan Gov. John Engler (R) is trying to relax the state standard for dioxin pollution, a move that unhappy environmentalists say is designed to minimize Dow Chemical’s financial liability for future cleanup efforts. The proposed change, which has also angered Gov.-elect Jennifer Granholm (D) and regional U.S. EPA officials, would increase by more than nine-fold the amount of dioxin permissible in the soil in Midland, Mich., where Dow is headquartered. Dioxin can disrupt human immune and reproductive systems and cause cancer; its presence in Midland and areas downstream stems from Dow’s half-century history of manufacturing Agent Orange, mustard gas, chlorinated pesticides, and chlorophenol. The clean up may result in one of the largest corporate pollution cases since the U.S. EPA ordered General Electric last year to pony up a half a billion bucks to remove PCBs from New York’s Hudson River. Yesterday, Michigan environmental groups sued to block a proposed consent order that would allow the lower dioxin standard to take effect before Engler leaves office.