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Planning underway for another cleanup of the Tittabawassee River

Few people turned out for a public hearing on the cleanup plan last night in Saginaw.
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)
Few people turned out for a public hearing on the cleanup plan last night in Saginaw.

A major cleanup project along the Tittabawassee River is moving into its final planning stages. It’s a project that presents several challenges.   

Dioxin contamination has been the subject of many cleanup projects in the Tittabawassee River. This new project will focus on other dangerous chemicals, like arsenic, dumped into the river in the past.

Mary Logan is the Environmental Protection Agency project manager. She says the chemicals they’re after now will be very difficult to remove without undermining work done in the past to prevent chemicals leeching from Dow Chemical’s Midland plant into the river. 

“There’s actually a complex groundwater collection system to keep contaminated groundwater from the Dow plant to getting into the river. And we…want to make sure we’re not damaging that system.”

Logan expects it will take 2 years to complete the project in a three mile portion of the river closest to the Dow plant. She says cleaning the entire 24 mile portion of the river will take at least a decade.   

EPA is taking public comment on the project through the end of the month.    

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.