Private For-Profit Businesses: Described here are those companies mentioned in various places in the website related to specific pollution problems or remediation. Only those mentioned multiple times are described here. Most have their own website and often have descriptions on sites such as Wikipedia, which can be checked for further information.
At the end of this section, under the MEDIA subheading, we also identify the two private newspapers that frequently report on the work of the Task Force.
Michigan Chemical/ Velsicol: Michigan Chemical was founded in St. Louis in 1935 to produce chemical products from the brine under the community. During World War II the company became a major producer of the pesticide DDT, used to protect troops and refugees in the war zones. After the war, Michigan Chemical expanded into producing flame retardants based on polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) as well as processing rare earths. In 1965, Michigan Chemical was fully purchased by Velsicol Chemical of Chicago, shortly before Velsicol itself was acquired by the Chicago and North Western Railway (C&NW). Later C&NW became known as Northwest Industries and even later as Fruit of the Loom. The company dumped large quantities of DDT wastes, radioactive residue from rare earth processing and PBB into the local environment. They also made a catastrophic shipping error in 1973 that introduced PBB into the food chain of 8 million people.
Oxford Automotive (Lobdell-Emery) was an auto parts manufacturing company in eastern Alma along the Pine River. They dumped wastes containing hexavalent chromium and perhaps PFAS used in chrome plating into the Pine River through a storm drain that entered the Horse Creek tributary of the Pine River in southwest St. Louis. Oxford filed for bankruptcy and closed in 2004.
Total Refining/ Ultramar Diamond Shamrock (UDS)/Valero (formerly Leonard and Midwest refineries) operated on the east side of Alma on both sides of the Pine River. They dumped large quantities of refinery wastes into the Pine River. The refineries emitted a variety of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds, heavy metals, sulfuric and hydrofluoric acids and other byproducts of oil refining into the air, groundwater and soil and surface waters of the local drainage basin. Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene were detected in significant amount in water samples. In addition, hundreds of thousands of gallons of free product and benzene contaminated groundwater, as deep as 115 feet, is migrating off-site. At the creation of Superfund in 1980, the oil industry successfully lobbied to have refineries exempt from Superfund in exchange for paying the “Superfund tax.” On a number of occasions the US EPA found the refinery violated other emissions regulations, especially for sulfur dioxide. Exposure to sulfur dioxide can impair breathing, aggravate existing respiratory diseases like bronchitis, and reduce the ability of the lungs to clear foreign particles. People with chronic lung and heart diseases, the elderly, and children are the most sensitive.
Jacobs Engineering Group not a polluter Jacobs, previously CH2M Hill has been the prime contractor for U.S. EPA remediating the Superfund sites in St. Louis. Jacobs, in turn, often uses more specialized firms to complete components in assessment and remediation of sites.
Weston Solutions is a firm that provides technical assistance to the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE). Weston is headquartered a 1400 Weston Way, West Chester, Pa 19380.
Media have covered pollution in the watershed for many years. The PBB accident in the 1970s and its legacy resulted in coverage in major national newspapers and electronic media, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and National Public Radio. The statewide press, especially the Detroit media have given much attention to both PBB and the legacy and remediation of the other contaminants. The global, peer-reviewed scientific press also has published much, especially on the health consequences of the contaminants. Here we provide contact information on three local media that frequently cover the problems and remediation of the watershed’s contamination.
The Morning Sun is a daily newspaper covering Gratiot County and Isabella and Clare counties to the north. Frequently, the Sun reporter covering St. Louis has been Greg Nelson firstname.lastname@example.org
The Gratiot County Herald is a weekly newspaper, especially reporting official notices of county government.