Recent flooding in Midland raises concerns about historic contamination

The recent flooding in Midland, Michigan, occured upstream of a Dow Chemical facility and the downstream Superfund site related to that facility. We're concerned about the flooding creating toxics releases in addition to the harm to the flooded communities.

Nathan Murphy

This is the second year with record high water levels across Michigan, and flooding is threatening and harming communities across the state. Our hearts go out to the communities around Michigan currently experiencing record rainfalls and flooding. Beyond the historic damage created by the flooding itself, we are very concerned about the flooding also releasing toxic chemicals and other pollution from facilities located in these floodplains. Spilling these pollutants into the water makes a bad situation even worse.

Michigan’s industrial heritage results in a number of chemical and industrial facilities in floodplains where they face a risk of water flooding the facilities during high water events. The Dow Chemical facility on the banks of the Tittabawassee River may create a substantial risk of chemical release during the current high waters. In the past their actions released dioxins that contaminated the river and the floodplains where people live, and resulted in contaminated wildlife that use the floodplains.

A report from Environment Michigan Research and Policy Center details the risks of toxic chemicals and other pollution from facilities in floodplains. I talked with Lester Graham of Michigan Radio about our concerns. Moving forward we need to ensure adequate sampling to characterize any pollution releases from the Superfund site, and long term we need to stop locating certain types of facilities next to our precious waters.


Nathan Murphy