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Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Tittabawassee River, Michigan
Beginning as early as the late 1800s, the Dow Chemical Company plant in Midland, Michigan, released pollution into the Tittabawassee River. In time, the river and its floodplain were contaminated by polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans, commonly referred to collectively as dioxins. Dow did not purposely produce dioxins; rather they were inadvertent by-products of chemical production processes.
Because dioxins have injured natural resources downstream from Dow’s Midland plant and resulted in fish consumption and other advisories, federal, state, and tribal governments acting on behalf of the public as Trustees for natural resources have conducted a Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA).
The purpose of an NRDA is to determine the amounts and types of restoration that can make the public whole for losses to natural resources over time. The Trustees began planning for and conducting their assessment in 2005 and reached a settlement with Dow in 2019. The settlement includes a suite of restoration projects to benefit natural resources and provide for public use and enjoyment of them and funding for the Trustees to do additional restoration and monitoring over time.
In their Restoration Plan, the Trustees evaluated a range of restoration actions and alternatives which would provide benefits to natural resources to compensate the public for losses to natural resources injured by releases from Dow's Midland plant. They described both the assessment and the proposed restoration actions in the Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Tittabawassee River System and released it on November 8, 2019, for public review and comment through December 30, 2019. Based on the comments received, the Trustees published the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment for the Tittabawassee River System on March 10, 2020. For more information on the restoration projects selected, please visit the Restoration Plan and Projects webpage.
Trustees for natural resources for this site are the State of Michigan, acting through the Director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy, the Director of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Attorney General of the State of Michigan; the United States Department of the Interior, acting through its representatives, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs; and the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan.