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Local News

Whitmer greenlights Superfund designation for Ann Arbor dioxane plume

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Kyle Davidson, Michigan Advance

December 12, 2023

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sent a letter on Monday agreeing with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to add a contaminated groundwater plume in Ann Arbor to the Superfund National Priorities list, transferring the site to the EPA. 

The plume was discovered in 1985 and includes groundwater beneath more than three square miles of Ann Arbor and Scio Township. The contamination is caused by the discharge of industrial solvent 1,4 dioxane by Gelman Sciences Inc. during its manufacturing operations from the 1960s through the 1980s. 

 Installation of an extraction well to remove contaminated groundwater from the Gelman site, Ann Arbor | EGLE photo

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,4 dioxane can harm the eyes, skin, lungs, liver and kidneys, and may also cause cancer 

In a Nov. 16 letter, Debra Shore, the regional administrator for EPA Region 5, asked the state to concur with its proposal to add the site to the Superfund list. In Whitmer’s letter of agreement, she noted the decision was supported by several local units of government and community groups, as well as U.S. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Ann Arbor). 

Dingell has long advocated for the site to be added to the Superfund list. 

“Including the Gelman Plume on the National Priorities List is critical to help finally end this decades-long nightmare for the residents of Ann Arbor, Scio Township and the surrounding communities,” Dingell said in a statement. “I thank Governor Whitmer for her continued partnership and commitment to getting this site cleaned up.”

The site has been managed by the state since its discovery. Phil Roos, director of the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) said the agency has worked closely with the EPA to manage the site and will work to ensure its transition to Superfund status is “seamless and effective.”

“We welcome all available resources to address what is a very complex site of legacy contamination,” Roos said in a statement. “We’ve listened to the community and concur with their wishes to ask the EPA to make this a priority site. We’ll continue to work with the community and EPA to ensure residents are protected.”

According to a statement from EGLE, placing the site on the Superfund list will help bring additional monitoring and remediation resources to the site. 

“Placing the site on the [Superfund list] is the most viable alternative for addressing the issues with the source contamination remaining on‑site and the contaminated groundwater on and emanating from the site,” Whitmer said in her letter to the EPA.

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This article is republished from Michigan Advance under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.