The former Dow Chemicals lawyer who helped derail a dioxin cleanup may soon run the EPA's Superfund program

Credit: Patrick Bloodgood/US Army

President Trump already raised eyebrows back in March when he nominated Peter Wright, a lawyer for Dow Chemicals, to lead Superfund, a program to clean up some of the country’s toxic waste sites. Now a New York Times exposé is laying out just how much of a danger to public health Wright really is. The reporting discusses the 2003 Midland cleanup in Michigan, where Dow had contaminated the water with significant amounts of dioxin. Wright took a lead role organizing Dow’s legal strategy and negotiating with the clean up (one of the nation’s largest) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but while he was in charge, the Times reports, his company slow-walked the cleanup process, sought to mislead residents about the risks, conducted unauthorized sampling, promoted inaccurate science, and submitted disputed data. One particularly egregious example cited involves both Dow and Wright personally downplaying dioxin’s generally accepted health risks, such as reproductive and development problems, immune system damage, and even cancer. Despite his decidedly anti-environmental past, Wright could soon be put in charge of the program he once helped derail—bad news for anyone living nearby any of the country’s 1,344 Superfund sites.

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