The Dow Chemical Company will implement and fund an estimated $77 million in natural resource restoration projects intended to compensate the public for injuries to natural resources caused by the release of hazardous substances from Dow’s Midland, Michigan facility.
The projects come as a result of a settlement Friday with the United States, the State of Michigan and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.
According to a complaint filed on behalf of federal, state and tribal natural resource trustees, Dow released dioxin-related compounds and other hazardous substances from its Midland, Michigan, facility, and such releases caused injuries to natural resources.
The complaint alleges hazardous substances from Dow’s facility adversely affected fish, invertebrates, birds and mammals, contributed to the adoption of health advisories to limit consumption of certain wild game and fish, and resulted in soil contact advisories in certain areas including some public parks.
The settlement identifies a number of specific natural resource restoration projects that will be implemented in different parts of Midland, Saginaw and Bay counties.
Dow will implement eight natural resource restoration projects described in the settlement at the company’s expense, subject to oversight and approval by the natural resource trustees. In addition, Dow will pay $6.75 million, plus interest, to a Restoration Account that will used by Trustees to fund five other restoration projects described in the settlement.
The settlement also requires Dow to pay another $15 million, plus interest that will be used by the Trustees for various purposes. At least $5 million of this funding will support implementation of additional natural resource restoration projects that will be selected by the trustees in the future, after a separate opportunity for public input on restoration project proposals. This funding will also be used to cover costs of long-term monitoring and maintenance of restoration projects under the settlement, as well as costs the Trustees will incur in overseeing restoration projects.
In addition, Dow is required to reimburse costs previously incurred by federal and state trustees in connection with the assessment of natural resource damages relating to Dow’s releases.
“Today’s settlement is good news for communities in this region, and it builds upon ongoing cleanup efforts under the direction and supervision of the EPA and the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy,” said Principal Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Brightbill of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The extensive habitat restoration provisions of this settlement will help accelerate recovery of natural resources over a large area where resources have been adversely impacted as a result of decades of exposure to Dow’s hazardous substances.”
The settlement does not address Dow’s liability to clean up contamination from the Midland facility. Dow has been addressing certain offsite contamination from the Midland facility under a series of administrative orders issued by the EPA. Much of that effort to date has focused on contamination within the Tittabawassee River or in riverbank and floodplain areas adjacent to the river. At this point, EPA mandated cleanup activity is continuing in and along the Tittabawassee River and then downstream into the Saginaw River. Dow has also been addressing other contamination related to the Midland facility under the direction of EGLE. The settlement reserves all rights of the United States and the State to require Dow to continue and complete cleanup of contamination from the Midland facility.