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State and federal officials assess environmental concerns in Midland flood

A red bridge flooded in Midland
Jodi Westrick
Michigan Radio

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) are in the Midland area to assess the damage from the flooding there.

Nick Assendelft is a spokesman for EGLE. He says one of the first priorities is helping people who are cleaning out their homes and businesses.

“They're going to need some guidance in terms of what to do with, you know, paint cans, drywall, carpeting, and that kind of thing. So, our material management folks have some of that information handy. So we'll do our best to get that information out to people,” Assendelft said.

He added that people won't  know what might have ended up on their property because of the flood, so it’s a good idea to wear steel-toed boots, gloves, and eye protection in addition to personal protective equipment needed because of COVID-19.

While there are a lot of environmental concerns caused by the flooding, one of the issues is the decades-long problem with dioxin contamination from the Dow complex.

“You know when we're talking the dioxin and the Superfund issue, we're partnering with EPA. Obviously, they have some jurisdiction on that as well. There's a long history there. So we'll want to make sure that things haven't been disturbed in a way that is going to cause any issues,” Assendelft said.

EGLE officials in the department are in contact with Dow regularly as they try to assess the dioxin risk and other chemicals that might have been spread by flood waters.

Lester Graham reports for The Environment Report. He has reported on public policy, politics, and issues regarding race and gender inequity. He was previously with The Environment Report at Michigan Public from 1998-2010.
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