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Ann Arbor Residents Voice Concerns At Town Hall On 1,4 Dioxane Plume

For decades, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality has been working with Gelman Sciences to clean-up the 1,4 Dioxane chemical the company released in certain parts of Ann Arbor.  To this day, the DEQ continues to say the levels are below their precautionary standards and are not harmful. To give voice to concerned residents, city, county and state officials put together Thursday night's town hall forum. 

Residents demanded solutions from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality at the town hall held at Eberwhite Elementary School.  

Over 200 concerned citizens attended after a DEQ investigation found 1,4 Dioxane in shallow groundwater beneath Waterworks Park.  Helen Aminoff was among them.

"Come on, folks. We know there's contamination. We know the plume is enlarging. We know the plume is spreading. Do something about it!

The meeting lasted over two hours, but it didn't stop residents from going up to DEQ officials after the town hall to tell them exactly what they thought of the situation.

"Just don't sell the public out. Seriously..."

That is Scott Munzell from Ann Arbor talking to a remediation supervisor about closed door negotiations taking place regarding the 1,4 Dioxane plume clean-up.

"I was concerned about the negotiations that the DEQ is currently undertaking with Gelman, which negotiations, as I understand it, don't yet involve the local governments--either the city council or the county commission."

Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor wants to change that and plans to ask council next week to file a motion to intervene in a court case involving the clean-up.

"If we are not part of the case, we are not part of the discussions. We need to be in the room where the conversation occurs, so we can be sure to protect Ann Arbor residents."

Hours before the meeting took place, the DEQ announced it had enacted an emergency order, lowering  the amount of 1,4 Dioxane allowed in drinking water from 85 parts per billion to 7.2.  That order will be in effect for six months while further study is conducted. 

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News.  Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him javellan@emich.edu

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