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Dow wins in river pollution dispute

Christian Collins

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that residents along the Tittabawassee river waited too long to sue Dow Chemical for dioxin contamination.

Dioxin chemicals were manufactured at Dow starting in the 1930’s. Dow Chemical says residents learned about river pollution in the 1980’s, and they should have sued then. The lawsuit in question was filed in 2003.

Plaintiffs on the case point to a MDEQ report from 2002 as the first time residents knew the extent of the pollution.

Bruce Trogan is an attorney for the plaintiffs.

“The people along the Tittabawassee river floodplain had free and unlimited use of their property until 2002 when the MDEQ released the results showing that dioxin was, in fact, present in the floodplain and issued limitations on the use of their property.”

Trogan said the judge sent the case back to lower courts to determine when damage to residents occurred.

“Anybody who is on the Tittabawassee river suffered damage sometime around 1948 and they should have sued back then.. Which is impossible. How could somebody who purchased their property in 1985 sue in 1948?”

Trogan admits residents had some information about river pollution.

“There was some information relative to the dissemination of dioxin into the river but there was limited if any information that the dioxin had infiltrated the floodplain.”

In a written statement representatives for Dow Chemical Company said quote “The Michigan Supreme Court’s order validates Dow’s views that the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit too late.”

Trogan said they are still considering future legal action.

Dow Chemical’s full statement can be read below:

The Michigan Supreme Court’s order validates Dow’s views that the plaintiffs filed their lawsuit too late.  If the Supreme Court’s instructions are followed on remand, the plaintiffs’ claims should be dismissed in their entirety.