Sunday, July 10, 2005

More info on Steve Meador and "The Long Shadow"

It always amazes me that the more efforts there are to censor something, the more likely people will want to see it or hear it. We are hoping to get word shortly that a copy of Steve Meador's film has been found. In the meantime one of our researchers has some additional information. Thanks to Bob Lee we have some additional biographical information on Steve Meador, the MSU grad student who created the film, "The Long Shadow" about the dioxin mess in Midland and Dow's efforts to alleviate its responsibilities for the contamination of 22 miles along the Titabawasee River in Midland and Saginaw Counties.

“STEPHEN MEADOR has a master’s in environmental engineering and worked for the NationalOceanic and Atmospheric Administration for 10 years as a commissioned officer. He served on three research ships that traveled all over the world, including Antarctica. He also was involved in hazmat response in New York Harbor. After graduation, he hopes to work for public radio or television, or be a freelance science and environmental magazine writer.”

He also wrote an article on ecoterrorists, which was published in the Winter 2002 issue of ej, and begins on page 28 of the issue. The link to the periodical is shown below.

And here is what another source says about the film that Dow doesn't want us to see --

The Long Shadow by Stephen Meador
This 90-minute, 2003 documentary by Stephen Meador examines the controversy surrounding Dow's contamination of its hometown region, in mid-Michigan, with high levels of dioxin contamination.

"For more than a century, the Dow Chemical Company has brought jobs and prosperity to the people of Michigan. The creator of household brand names like Saran Wrap and Styrofoam, Dow's Midland plant has also manufactured more controversial products such as mustard gas, napalm, and Agent Orange. With its corporate headquarters located only a few miles away, Dow employs more than 6000 people in the Midland area. While the residents of Midland have reaped the benefits of Dow' presence and good corporate citizenship for decades, the people downstream from the plant who live along the Tittabawassee River have lately seen only the costs.

"In January 2002, the public learned that soils within the Tittabawassee River floodplain were contaminated with high levels of dioxins. Some samples measured 80 times higher than the state standard for residential areas. Dioxins are an unwanted byproduct of incineration and some chemical processes, and are known to cause numerous health problems, including cancer. Floodplain residents were devastated to learn their backyards might be poisoned, but even more disheartened to learn that government agencies charged with protecting their health were also part of the problem. Agency administrators had the violated the public's trust by delaying notification and further investigation, censoring documents, and creating an atmosphere where agency staffers feared losing their jobs if they communicated with the public.

"Environmentalists have long criticized agency administrators for being too sympathetic to Dow interests. Regulatory enforcement has been sporadic at best, and sweetheart deals between Dow and the State date back at least 20 years. When sampling confirmed the dioxin had come from Dow plant operations, many were not surprised to learn that a bailout for Dow was being secretly negotiated in late 2002 during the waning days of a business-friendly administration. Only the actions of outraged citizens and conscientious agency staffers, who fought against the decisions of their superiors, thwarted the bailout. "The Long Shadow details the dioxin controversy in 2002, from public notification by agency whistleblowers in January to the failed bailout in December. The story highlights the plight of three floodplain families concerned about their health, their property values, and the corporate and government forces that acted against them. The story is told through contemporary videography, historical photos, and interviews with floodplain residents, environmental advocates, key government officials, and state lawmakers. The Long Shadow exemplifies the need for citizens to be fully engaged in the democratic process, and the danger in assuming that government officials are always acting in the best interest of the public they are charged to serve and protect."

That just makes you want to see the film, now, doesn't it? We'll let you know as soon as we have a copy and see if we can get a place to show it.


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