New documents related to the cleanup of a 1,4 dioxane groundwater plume in the Ann Arbor area, resulting from contamination by the former Scio Township manufacturing site of Gelman Sciences (now owned by Pall Corp.), have been posted on the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality website. Specifically, on Oct. 26, 2011, Pall filed a petition with the court stating that “if it is required to install additional compliance monitoring wells it will dispute the location of such wells.” In a response filed Nov. 7, the state argued that a consent judgement issued by the court doesn’t prohibit the installation of additional monitoring wells for the purpose of monitoring compliance with court-ordered cleanup. The state further argues that Pall’s proposed monitoring-well network is …
About 50 residents gathered at Ann Arbor’s Abbot Elementary School late last month to get an update – and raise concerns – over a new consent judgment that changes the cleanup requirements of 1,4 dioxane contamination caused by the former Gelman Sciences manufacturing plant in Scio Township.
Mitch Adelman, a supervisor with the Michigan Dept. of Environmental Quality’s remediation division, began the March 30 meeting by acknowledging the crowd’s reaction to the new agreement, which was issued earlier in the month without opportunity for public input. “I don’t expect anything I say or do tonight to alleviate your anger or frustration,” he said.
But Adelman noted that if a company like Pall – which owns the former Gelman Sciences site – proposes a remediation plan that complies with state law, “we’re obligated to accept it.”
For nearly three hours, Adelman and Sybil Kolon, MDEQ’s project manager for the Pall site, gave an update and answered questions about the new consent judgment, the history of the cleanup, and what residents might expect in the coming years. They were challenged throughout the evening by people who’ve been following this situation closely – most notably by Roger Rayle, a leader of Scio Residents for Safe Water and member of the county’s Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane (CARD). Rayle has been tracking the dioxane plume for many years, and presented his own graphical renderings of data to the group.
The meeting was attended by several elected officials: Ann Arbor city councilmembers Stephen Rapundalo (Ward 2) and Mike Anglin (Ward 5); Ann Arbor Township supervisor Mike Moran; county commissioner Yousef Rabhi (District 11); and Sarah Curmi, chief of staff for state Sen. Rebekah Warren, whose district covers a large portion of Washtenaw County, including Ann Arbor and Scio Township, where the plume is concentrated.
Washtenaw County board of commissioners working session (Feb. 3, 2011): Last Thursday commissioners got a primer on the history of apportionment from county clerk Larry Kestenbaum, as background to the upcoming redistricting of the county board. Redistricting takes place every 10 years, keyed to U.S. Census results.
When block-by-block data is released from the 2010 census next month, Kestenbaum will convene a five-member apportionment commission that will craft a plan to redraw district lines, based on population shifts. Currently there are 11 districts for the county board, including four in Ann Arbor.
For a county the size of Washtenaw, it’s possible to have as few as five districts, or as many as 21. Kestenbaum said he didn’t think it would be politically viable to talk about an increase in the number of commissioners. Maintaining the current number – or having fewer districts – would be the likely outcome, he said, but that’s a decision the apportionment commission will make, with public input.
Kestenbaum’s own political career has been influenced by redistricting. He served on the county board from 2000-2002, but decided not to run for reelection when redistricting landed him in the same district as fellow incumbent Democrat Leah Gunn. Instead, he ran for county clerk in 2004 and was elected to that position, winning re-election in 2008.
Prior to Kestenbaum’s presentation, the board heard from Roger Rayle during public commentary time. Rayle, a leader of Scio Residents for Safe Water, gave an update on the Pall-Gelman 1,4-dioxane plume, calling it “the gift that keeps on giving.”
An effort to change the cleanup of contaminated groundwater has come under fire by local residents and government officials who’ve been keeping an eye on the issue for more than 20 years.
At Wednesday’s annual meeting of the Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane, residents said that requested changes filed by Pall Life Sciences earlier this month with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality would allow higher amounts of the contaminant, 1,4-dioxane, in the groundwater. As a result, they said, the 1,4-dioxane, a presumed carcinogen, could flow northward and reach Ann Arbor’s primary drinking water supply at Barton Pond.