Ann Arbor Dioxane Purification advocates a rally in Lansing to get Whitmer’s attention

ANN ARBOR, MI – After four months without a word from Governor Gretchen Whitmer as to whether she will support a federal superfund cleanup of the Gelman dioxane plume in Ann Arbor, local lawyers are preparing to travel to Lansing.

They plan to gather on the Michigan Capitol lawn at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, April 13, and are calling on Whitmer to issue a letter of compliance to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency considering the decade-old cloud to set the national priorities list for a superfund cleanup.

“A group of us will have a message to the governor at the Capitol grounds on April 13th if they haven’t heard enough that we want to mail this letter,” said Kathy Griswold, a member of the Ann Arbor, D city council – 2nd district.

“I just feel that there is a communication problem, and if it means the public has to show up on the Capitol lawn and make a very public statement, people are ready.”

EPA open to Superfund cleanup in Ann Arbor when the state is on board

Community members feel they must go to Lansing for lack of governor action, Griswold said.

A Whitmer spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on Friday April 9.

A map of the Gelman dioxane plume spreading in the Ann Arbor area and moving east through the west side of the city towards West Park and branches of the Allen Creek drainage system that drains into the Huron River. Gelman Sciences uses extraction wells to remove water from the soil and then treats it to remove dioxane. Treated water with lower levels of dioxane is then discharged into Honey Creek, which flows to the Huron River upstream of Barton Pond, Ann Arbor’s main municipal water supply.

Toxic pollution from Gelman Sciences’ old filter manufacturing complex on Wagner Road has been spreading in the region’s groundwater for decades, endangering the drinking water supply, among other things.

The state began the investigation in 1985 and filed a lawsuit against the polluter in 1988, which in 1992 resulted in a multiple revised approval decision by the Circuit Court, which has been helping the polluter clean up pumps and treatments for many years. Local officials and residents want a better cleanup, and some consider an EPA-supervised Superfund cleanup to be the best option given the constraints of state environmental laws.

Ann Arbor resident Beth Collins, a member of the local coalition for action to clean up dioxane living on the cloud, is helping organize Tuesday’s rally, calling it a grassroots effort. They will have some “EPA Now” masks and buttons and practice social distancing, she said in an email.

Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, said he plans to attend the rally to show support.

“It is time for the governor to request EPA action immediately,” he said. “We have waited long enough for this mess to be cleared up. I have supported the EPA’s commitment for years. We need the better resources and higher clean-up standards that come with federal involvement. Corporations believe they can slip past us and get away with “cleaning up” window decorations, but this community has relentlessly made better demands. “

City Councilor Lisa Disch, D-1st Ward, promoted the rally in an email newsletter, telling residents that a letter from the governor was required to start the superfund process.

Local officials have been trying for months to get their message across to the governor that they want to launch the year-long Superfund petition process while the state and local governments continue to pursue a new cleanup plan through litigation against polluter Gelman Sciences. Three days of trial are scheduled for May 3-5.

The judge signals his intention to order a remedial plan for the dioxane pollution from Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Scio Township, and Ann Arbor Township sent letters to the governor in December urging Whitmer to assist in a superfund purge, and EPA officials said they were open to considering the state is on board.

Mayor Christopher Taylor said he would not attend Tuesday’s rally in Lansing, but he is working closely with leaders of Washtenaw County, Scio Township, Ann Arbor Township and the Huron River Watershed Council to submit a new joint Coordinate letter to governor They agree that they will seek your assistance to start the Superfund process.

Local officials have been publicly advised by both state and federal officials that a two-way strategy – pursuing a Superfund cleanup while continuing the litigation in court – is appropriate, Taylor said.

“And with that in mind, we encourage them to publish the letter,” said Taylor.

For those wishing to take part in the rally, organizers note that street parking is available throughout the Capitol area. A parking deck on Washtenaw Street between Townsend and Capitol Streets is a short walk from the Capitol.

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