Amid a global pandemic, record-breaking floods caused two “catastrophic” Michigan dam failures on Wednesday, and forced about 10,000 people to evacuate their homes.
As of Wednesday evening, flood waters had also entered a Dow chemical complex and were threatening to inundate a toxic superfund downriver from the plant. The risk of flash flood waters stirring up toxic sediment in the Tittabawassee River illustrates the threat of climate change to Superfund and other toxic sites.
The 50 miles of dioxin contamination is a legacy of decades of chemical releases by Dow into the river from its Midland, Michigan facility where it manufactured Saran Wrap, Styrofoam, Agent Orange and mustard gas, according to The New York Times. According to the Detroit News, federal regulators revoked one of the dam’s license for power generation in 2018 over concerns that it could not withstand a significant flood. Local officials said Wednesday evening they were “cautiously optimistic” that the river had crested at 35.05 feet, more than a foot higher than the previous record.
This is what a climate catastrophe looks like. pic.twitter.com/f0lbebBJrc
— Jeff Nesbit (@jeffnesbit) May 21, 2020