Michigan Dam Failures And Flooding Lead to Toxic Water Contamination Concerns

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Wikimedia Commons An overhead view of the Dow plant in Midland, Michigan.

Dow, which boasts on its site that Michigan has been home to its business since 1897, was one of the companies forced to contend with rising floodwaters in Michigan after the Edenville and Sanford dams were breached Tuesday.

Dow is a chemical production company, responsible for creating lubricants, plastics, siliconates, resins, powders and foam control agents among others, according to its website.

Dow announced on its website, Facebook and Twitter that it discovered floodwaters were comingling with on-site containment pods at its Midland chemical plant around 10 a.m. on May 20. However, the company said it was working with the U.S. Coast Guard to implement its emergency flood plans.

Here are the full statements from Dow:

[11:52 a.m. statement] Dow’s local emergency operations center is fully activated and is implementing its flood preparedness plan. All operating units on site have been safely shutdown, except for facilities needed for safely managing chemical containment, and all railcars are secured. At approximately 10:00 a.m. Eastern it was confirmed there were flood waters commingling with on-site containment ponds. We immediately partnered with the US Coast Guard to activate emergency plans. Only essential staff are onsite to monitor and manage the situation with no reported employee injuries. We will continue to engage with our site tenants and Midland County officials and take immediate action to ensure the safety and security of our employees, community and the environment.

[4:23 p.m. statement] In response to questions related to floodwaters commingling with on-site containment ponds, we are sharing further information. At approximately 10:00 a.m. Eastern it was confirmed there were flood waters commingling with an on-site pond used for storm water and brine system/groundwater remediation. The material from the pond commingling with the flood waters does not create any threat to residents or environmental damage. There has been no reported product releases. Only essential staff are onsite to monitor and manage the situation with no reported employee injuries. Dow continues to engage with its site tenants and Midland County officials and take immediate action to ensure the safety and security of our employees, community and the environment.

Dow was not clear about what containment ponds contained and whether any chemicals were released into the “comingling” floodwaters, which some on social media has been dissatisfied with:

Heavy has reached out to the company for comment and will update with any response.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that they are working together to assist those in the Midland area.


The Area Around the Company Is Already A Superfund Site Due to Years of Contamination

Breached Dams, Flooding in Midland, Michigan Threaten Dow Chemical ComplexDow Chemical activated its emergency operations center after rising waters caused river dams to break in Michigan. President Donald Trump said he’s sending federal emergency workers to Midland, Michigan, where dam failures have flooded a Dow Inc. chemical complex and homes in a disaster that may force the evacuation of more than 10,000 people. After…2020-05-20T19:58:44.000Z

The Dow Chemical Company Operations Building, Silicones Operation (3901 S. Saginaw Rd.) and Dow Corporate Headquarters (2211 H.H. Dow Way) are located in the heart of the floodwaters rushing through Midland, Michigan. But according to Michigan Radio, it’s not the first time that pollution concerns have been raised regarding the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers.

The EPA released a report examining the role that Dow’s wastewater system played in contaminating the Tittabawassee River with dioxin after the record floods of 1986.

The rivers were contaminated by dioxin — which is a highly toxic carcinogen that causes reproductive, developmental, hormonal and immune system damage, according to the EPA — from the Dow chemical complex, leading to an agreement between regulators and the company to clean the river and cap the river bottom, Michigan Radio reported.

The company was required to pay a $2.5 million civil penalty for violating the Clean Air Act in 2011. The area is currently a superfund site due to the years of contamination and the EPA said it would inspect and evaluate construction near the area in the spring.

Conditions have continued to deteriorate in Michigan as a result of the floods. Midland’s flood warning has been extended to May 24 by the National Weather Service the Tittabawassee River crested at 35 feet.

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