Dow Inc. containment ponds were flooded early Wednesday after two dams failed near Midland, Mich. Flood levels were reported at historic highs in the area.
Dow's flood preparedness plan has been activated, the company said in a statement. Dow is a key supplier to the auto industry for various chemicals and plastics. It also manufactures adhesive bondings for vehicles and makes safety-enhanced airbag coatings.
It was too early to determine whether Dow's problems could lead to production disruptions for its automotive customers, who already were in crisis mode as they restarted some North American production amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"The material from the pond commingling with the flood waters does not create any threat to residents or environmental damage," Dow said in an updated statement Wednesday. "There has been no reported product releases."
After days of heavy rainfall led to the dam failures, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency late Tuesday for the city and county of Midland. The city 128 miles northwest of Detroit is home to the automotive supplier, Northwood University and several auto dealerships.
Northwood University Automotive Marketing Department Chair Elgie Bright told Automotive News that the campus has been evacuated but a crisis team will not be deployed until the state of emergency is lifted.
The campus had been closed, with learning moving online March 18, because of coronavirus concerns. Bright said that was a silver lining, with no flood injuries or fatalities at Northwood.
The damage at the university was unknown. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Northwood had more than 3,000 students throughout its Michigan locations.
Garber Chevrolet, Feeny Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram, Midland Ford, Burt Watson Chevrolet and McDonald Ford told Automotive News they were safe from the water Wednesday morning but were not out of the woods yet.