Expert raises concern that Midland flood waters could become toxic from Dow Chemical plant

Just as Kim and his wife were salvaging items they heard a sound described like Niagra Falls as the Edenville Dam broke.

"We had 10 minutes to get all the debris that was in the house shoveled out through the doors," he said. "We had all the doors open, it was washing through the house, we were trying to get all the debris out - before the water was gone. Our beautiful lake turned into a debris pile."

Then, downriver another dam couldn't handle the immense pressure and it blew, sending water rushing south into downtown Midland. 

Wednesday evening the Tittabawassee River crested, meaning it peaked at 35 feet before it will start to slowly recede, But the damage is done. 

Boyce Hydro Power LLC owns these nearly 100-year-old dams. The company was warned for 13 years that the Edenville Dam couldn't handle a flood like this, dubbed "high risk."
"I knew they were going to have big problems," said Allen Burton.

Experts like Burton, a professor of environmental sustainability at the University of Michigan is thinking about possible environmental fallout. Especially because Dow Chemical is in the heart of Midland. The company implemented its flood preparedness plan. 

"The Tittabawassee goes right through the middle of the Dow plant and it's the largest chemical plant in the country," he said.

In a statement, Dow Chemical said flood waters mixed with retention ponds on property - but poses no risk to the community. 

Years ago, before it was illegal - Dow dumped chemicals for decades in the Tittabawassee River. Professor Burton says now it's getting stirred up and flowing down stream. 

"It is going to be a while before we know the extent of the contamination," he said.

The Environmental Protection Agency is on standby to access any potential fallout from the flood. The evacuation for thousands remains, and officials say that residents can't return to their homes until the water goes down.