Dow has begun cleanup and recovery at its Midland, Michigan, chemical complex, following flooding from rain and dam failures.
On May 19, heavy rains caused the Tittabawassee River to crest above flood stage. That evening, two dams ruptured, contributing to flooding in the region. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency for Midland County, and more than 10,000 residents evacuated.
Dow’s manufacturing facility sits on the eastern bank of the Tittabawassee. The facility once made many Dow products, but due to restructuring and divestitures over the years, the company only makes silicones there now.
Other firms operate several former Dow plants on the site. For example, Corteva makes agrochemicals there, DuPont has a methylcellulose plant, Trinseo has latex and acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene units, and SK Saran produces specialty plastics.
Dow began shutting down operations at the facility even before the breach of the two dams. The day after the flooding, Dow acknowledged that “there were flood waters commingling with on-site containment ponds.” Its headquarters, at a separate Midland location, wasn’t impacted by the event, the company says.
In a May 22 appearance on the business news channel CNBC, Dow CEO Jim Fitterling said the containment ponds hold brine that the site uses for groundwater remediation and pose no chemical hazards. “To our knowledge, there’s nothing that’s been released,” he said.