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Residents tired of waiting for Ann Arbor pollution cleanup

Scio Residents for Safe Water
Diagrams showing spread of 1,4 dioxane plume

After waiting three years for the state to issue a stricter cleanup standard for the carcinogen 1,4 dioxane, Ann Arbor Township and Scio Township are done.

The two townships, along with the Sierra Club of Huron Valley, will jointly file a petition next month requesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to conduct a preliminary assessment for a plume of contaminated groundwater to become a federal Superfund site.

The contaminated plume under the city of Ann Arbor has been slowly moving in all directions, forcing the closure of private wells in Scio Township, and closing in on the border of Ann Arbor Township.

Mike Moran, Ann Arbor Township Supervisor, says the U.S. EPA set a cleanup standard of 3 parts per billion for 1,4 dioxane, three years ago.  The state's current standard is 85 parts per billion.

"For three years, we've been promised by the state, by the DEQ, that they would be updating these standards," says Moran.  "It's been a rolling promise that's been violated about every six months."

Moran says meanwhile, Pall Gelman, the company responsible for the contamination, has been reducing its efforts to clean up the contamination. He says the company also needs to be forced to come up with a contingency plan in the event that the water -- decades hence -- reaches Barton Pond, the source of drinking water for the region.

"It would be a very long lead time to first of all, locate additional water sources, figure out how to connect them to the existing infrastructure, and get that infrastructure installed," says Moran.

A citizens group, Scio Residents for Safe Water, is also circulating a petition requesting the U.S. EPA to step in.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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