advisory had been issued for land animals and only deer, Wild Turkeys and squirrels had been tested.
This is not the first time that Wild Turkeys had been poisoned. During November-December, 1986 13 dead Wild Turkeys and one Canada Goose were found in Grand Traverse, Wexford and Benzie counties that had been poisoned by ingesting Zinc Phosphide, a poison so toxic that one had to be registered to buy and use it. Orchard owners and Christmas Trees owners were scattering poison grain to eliminate the mice. If a few Wild Turkeys were found just imagine the tremendous loss of every specie of wildlife that consumes grain. The problem came to light in 1982 and also included squirrels and Red Fox. As we have always done, we researched the problem and began a campaign to stop the indiscriminate slaughter of wildlife, that included from the Director of the Department of Agriculture to the legislature. Eventually rules went into effect governing the distribution of this poison, but this is another story for another time.
The Dioxin poisoning issue is too complex to report in this small article but following are highlights. Scientific journals list Dioxin as one of the most toxic chemicals ever made by humans. Animal testing reveals that the size of the dose of dioxin that can cause disease is lower than that for any other man made chemical. Very low doses are also suspected to cause human illness.
For decades Dow Chemical has been dumping chemicals into the Tittabawassee River. For years former Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) director, Russ Harding, under governor John Engler, denied that there was a problem and it was all hush-hush. The state standard for cleanup of Dioxin is 90 parts per trillion. Testing of homes along the river showed dioxin as high as 23,000 parts per trillion. One of four hot spots in the river showed the highest level of dioxin ever found in the environment. Dow is responsible for the worst unresolved toxic mess in the state.
Dow is responsible for poisoning our wildlife, our air, our fish, our water and endangering human health. They are one of the wealthiest corporations in the world. It is reasonable to expect that they would move rapidly to clean up the horrible mess that they have created.
Quite the opposite is true. They have been dragging their corporate feet for years. They currently want clean up standards at 1000 parts per trillion rather than 90 parts, Dow wants to hold off any remediation until 2017. Dow’s strategy is more study, more public relations and more delay. After years of attempting negotiations with Dow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) broke off negotiations citing dealing in bad faith. Mary Cade, administrator of EPA’s Region 5, was putting the squeeze on Dow, insisting on testing every home within the floodplain and clean up of those homes, besides insisting on total cleanup of the watershed. In April 2008 she was removed from the EPA by the Bush administration.
Politics are being played by both state and national politicians on behalf of Dow, from the governor’s office, to Midland area State Representatives and Senators to Washington D.C. Legislation has been introduced to reduce cleanup standards and to letting Dow off the hook. One was even so blatant as to introduce legislation that would reduce the salary of Steve Chester, the DEQ director.
What has Dow’s response been? Denial of any problem they have created, to officially being skeptical of the testing findings. They have stated that eating Wild Turkeys was OK if the skin was removed, even though dioxin in turkey meat was 66 times higher below the Dow plant than those above it.
What is Dow’s environmental record in other areas of our country? In the July-August, 1983 issue of Audubon appeared an article entitled A Town Called Morrisonville. At the urging of the State of Louisiana chemical corporations established their plants along the Mississippi River that was soon to be known nationally as Cancer Alley. Dow’s Plaquemine plant opened in 1958. It annually produces l6 billion pounds of chemicals and generates more than 3.3 billion pounds of toxins, among which have gone into the local air, ground and water.
Until 1973 Dow disposed of their waste chemical by dumping them into a pit located in the middle of the plant and covering it with soil, thereby creating massive pollution of the groundwater. During that time period Dow paid several hefty fines for releasing levels of toxins into the Mississippi River that exceeded state standards and was fined for violating of air quality standards. At the time several communities were obtaining large monetary settlements from chemical corporations for polluting their air, water and soil. Morrisonville was a poor black community of 240 acres located next to the sprawling Dow plant. In a pre-emptive strike Dow bought the entire town, lock, stock and barrel, displacing the residents, destroying the social fabric that had been built over many years.
Meanwhile, DON’T EAT THE WILD TURKEYS. See the related article in this issue, entitled Blood Money.