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Natural Resource Damage Assessment
Tittabawassee River, Michigan
On July 27, 2020, the settlement with the Dow Chemical Co. toaddress federal, state, and tribal claims for natural resource damages was finalized. The settlement is for an estimated $77 million in projects and funding that will restore fish, wildlife, and habitats injured following releases of hazardous substances in past decades from Dow’s manufacturing facility in Midland, Michigan. This settlement was reached following many years of assessment and negotiations.
This settlement was first announced on November 8, 2019, when it was lodged with the federal court and provided to the public for review and comment:
The settlement will address natural resource injuries with restoration projects within Midland, Saginaw, Bay, and nearby counties. The ongoing clean-up efforts in the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers will continue as part of a separate process. This settlement does not affect that clean-up process, and the proposed restoration work will begin as the ongoing clean-up efforts continue.
Projects and funding
Under the settlement, Dow will implement or fund a number of restoration projects identified in Midland, Bay, Saginaw, and nearby counties. These projects include fish spawning and fish passage improvements; restoration of thousands of acres of wetlands and other habitats; creation of multiple public nature areas with nature trails, fishing platforms, and a bike trail segment; protection of a green corridor along the Tittabawassee River; and expansion of boating access at the mouth of the Saginaw River. For more details on these projects, please see Restoration Plan and Projects.
The settlement also provides for at least $5 million for additional projects to be solicited from the public, and up to $10 million for long-term stewardship of the restoration projects, monitoring, and trustee costs to implement the settlement.
In addition to the NRDA-specific settlement, the State is simultaneously resolving some claims with Dow that will result in both the funding and the property to support two additional projects that benefit the community. These projects include a docking facility and education center on the Saginaw River near Bay City to bolster BaySail’s environmental science program and the renovation of the Saginaw River Rear Range Lighthouse to allow for public use.
Frequently Asked Questions about the settlement
Presentation on the Settlement from a public meeting held November 21, 2019 in Saginaw, Michigan.
Sequence of activities for the Consent Decree, Restoration Plan, and restoration projects:
The estimate of $77 million in projects and funding in this settlement is based in part on what the Trustees estimate it would cost to implement the projects that Dow will perform:
The public was encouraged to provide comments on the Draft Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment as well as on the proposed Consent Decree that outlines the settlement provisions.
On November 14, 2019, the Department of Justice published a Federal Register Notice advising the public of the opportunity to submit comments on both documents through December 30, 2019.
The Trustees considered the public comments received as they completed the Final Restoration Plan and Environmental Assessment. Public comments and the Trustees' response to them are described in Appendices E and F of the Final Restoration Plan.