Washtenaw County commissioners have voted to explore options – including possible legal action – to help set cleanup criteria for the carcinogen 1,4-dioxane in Michigan. In addition to its broader implications, the resolution is meant to address the 1,4 dioxane plume stemming from contaminants at the former Gelman Sciences plant in Scio Township, which is now closed. [.pdf of county resolution]
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 …
Ann Arbor city council meeting (Oct. 3, 2011): In spite of the eight public hearings scheduled for Monday night, the council’s agenda was actually relatively light. Six of the public hearings were very similar requests for annexations of property from Scio Township into the city of Ann Arbor. The annexations were all approved with scant comment from the public or the council.
But two agenda items – both related to the future of the block of South Fifth Avenue just south of William – resulted in over an hour of deliberations by the council.
An item added late Monday afternoon gave a glimmer of hope to the Heritage Row planned unit development (PUD), which the council last had on its agenda on Dec. 6, 2010 – nearly a year ago. On Monday, the council voted to suspend its rules, then voted to reconsider the project, and finally voted to postpone it until its Oct. 17 meeting.
By Oct. 17, a set of changes proposed by the development team are to be incorporated into the site plan and zoning regulations for Heritage Row. The developer says the changes to Heritage Row would be necessary, in order for him to diverge from his current intention to build City Place, an already approved “matter of right” project at the same location. Those changes include eliminating any on-site parking requirement, increasing the number of residents, relaxing the energy standards, and not making a commitment to the historical preservation of the existing seven houses on the site. [.pdf of letter from developer]
If the council were to give the new version of Heritage Row initial approval at its Oct. 17 meeting, it would then take a second and final vote on it at a meeting now scheduled for Oct. 24.
In a related action, the council approved a revision to the development agreement for City Place that eliminated the need for the developer to complete off-site utility work before being issued a building permit for that project. Now, that utility work would need to be completed later in the process, before the certificate of occupancy is issued. The relaxation of the timeline was undertaken to allow the developer additional flexibility to discuss a modified Heritage Row, as an alternative to City Place.
In other business, the council again delayed action on a resolution of intent for the use of revenue generated by a proposed street and sidewalk repair millage that voters will be asked to approve at the Nov. 8 election. Questions concerned the need for such a resolution at all, as well as the plan for use of the millage inside the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority district.
A request for rezoning a medical marijuana business on South State Street was denied by the council, but did achieve three votes on the 11-member body.
The council also approved an easement for DTE to replace a gas main along the north side of Fuller Road.
At its Oct. 3, 2011 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council approved annexation of six properties on the west side of the city, all inside a well prohibition zone that was expanded in March 2011. The expansion of the zone came as a result of a consent agreement between the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources and Environment, which relaxed environmental cleanup requirements on Pall Corp. The previous prohibition zone had been established because of 1,4 dioxane groundwater contamination caused by the Pall Corp.’s Wagner Road facility, formerly owned by Gelman Sciences.
Annexation will allow these properties to connect to city of Ann Arbor water services. Pall has paid all petition filing fees as well as the connection and improvement charges for water and sanitary sewer service that are related to the annexations. All of the parcels are currently a part of Scio Township. They will be annexed with the R1C (single-family residential) category. These annexations are not part of the systematic township-to-city annexation strategy authorized by the city council at its Sept. 19, 2011 meeting.
This brief was filed from the city council’s chambers on the second floor of city hall, located at 301 E. Huron. A more detailed report will follow: [link]
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.
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.