MI Chemical Plume Expanding

Friday, February 12, 2016 @ 06:02 PM gHale

A dioxane plume has been slowly expanding in Ann Arbor, MI, as it moves closer to the Huron River, state officials said.

Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) officials are working under limitations in state law and court orders on what they can do from an enforcement standpoint.

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The department can’t force Pall Corp., which dumped large amounts of the chemical into the environment from 1966 to 1986, to do a full-scale cleanup, and the pollution is still spreading despite ongoing pump-and-treat remediation efforts to reduce the amount of dioxane in the groundwater.

The agency is trying to minimize the risk of human exposure to dioxane as the plume continues to spread.

Local officials want to ensure the plume doesn’t reach Barton Pond, where the city gets most of its drinking water. But some uncertainty remains about where and how the plume might spread.

DEQ officials this week discussed the situation with city officials and residents at a meeting of the local Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane.

“Part of the long-term monitoring plan to track the plume within this prohibition zone includes identifying where it’s going,” said Mitch Adelman, district supervisor for the agency’s Remediation and Redevelopment Division.

If DEQ has any reason to believe the state isn’t being protective of public health and the environment, the agency will be “prepared to engage,” he said.

Dioxane exposure may cause damage to the central nervous system, liver and kidneys. Accidental worker exposure to 1,4-dioxane has resulted in several deaths. Dioxane is “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen,” according to the National Toxicology Program.