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Posted on Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Pall Corp.'s closing Ann Arbor facility could be sold without affecting dioxane remediation

By Amy Biolchini


The 1,4 dioxane plume in Ann Arbor and Scio Township as of Nov. 2012.

Courtesy of CARD

Following Pall Corporation's Monday announcement to cease operations this summer at its Ann Arbor facility, officials have not released the company's plan for the property.

The company is perhaps more well-known locally by its previous name, Gelman Life Sciences, and for thousands of pounds of 1,4 dioxane that leaked into the groundwater more than 30 years ago — spreading a plume of contamination across miles of western Ann Arbor and parts of Scio Township.

Pall acquired Gelman in 1997 and is legally responsible for the cleanup.

The facility at 600 S. Wagner Road could be sold or leased without disturbing the remediation process, said Sybil Kolon, environmental quality analyst for the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

If the property was put up for sale, Pall would have to put a deed restriction on the property to notify all future owners of the contamination on the site, and to outline guidelines for future use.

“Even if a party is not liable, they have to manage it in such a way that (the contamination) is not exposed,” Kolon said.

E. Spaulding Clark, Scio Township supervisor, said there have been rumors of employee turnover and decreased operations at Pall Life Sciences for several years.

“It’s my impression that over a fair number of years, Pall has been moving its operations from the Ann Arbor area and consolidating them elsewhere,” Clark said. “The handwriting has been on the wall for the long time.”

Gelman Life Science’s Scio Township holdings had an assessed value of $6.9 million in 2013 — slightly more than the 2012 assessed value of $6.1 million. The property’s assessed value is the third largest in the township, according to Washtenaw County’s Equalization Department.


Pall Life Sciences at 600 S. Wagner Rd. in Scio Township.

Melanie Maxwell | file photo

The South Wagner Road property consists of five buildings with a total of 202,140 square feet, which includes office, research and development, production and warehouse spaces.

Pall attempted to put three of the five buildings on the market in 2009.

The contaminated groundwater is treated in a building on-site at the Pall Life Sciences facility. Two holding lagoons on-site are used in the water treatment process.

Michael Gebhard is with the Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane (CARD) and is a former environmental analyst for Washtenaw County.

“As a whole, there’s nothing to suggest that they would stop doing cleanup,” Gebhard said. “There’s a concern that they’ll do less than they are doing (now).”

Save for a team of employees directly involved with the environmental remediation of the 1,4 dioxane plume, Pall Corp. will be closing down its Ann Arbor business in phases beginning July 7.

Of the 71 employees at the facility, 55 have been given layoff notices.

“Closing does not affect our relationship,” Kolon said. “They’re responsible for handling all the remediation approved by the DEQ. The fact that they’re leaving town does not affect that.”

Scio Township Supervisor Clark said he’s heard from the head of the environmental remediation at Pall, Farsad Fotouhi, that there will be a staff of about 20 people that will remain on the site.

Gelman used a reported 800,000 pounds of 1,4 dioxane — an industrial solvent — in the production of its filters from 1966 to 1986. The chemical was disposed of in shallow ponds, sprayed over land and in injection wells.

The contamination spread in several directions outwards from the site through groundwater aquifers and affected thousands of homes in a court-ordered prohibition zone in the northwest section of Ann Arbor. Those homes can’t use their groundwater or dig wells.

There are about 17 injection wells pumping water out of the ground through a pipeline and to a treatment facility at Pall Life Science’s South Wagner Road facility.

In January, February and March, more than 300 pounds of 1,4 dioxane were removed and 75.7 million gallons of water were pumped from the contaminated aquifers to Pall’s treatment center.

Since May 1997, the company’s remediation efforts have removed more than 88,800 pounds of 1,4 dioxane.

After being treated, the water is discharged to Honey Creek. The water output is permitted through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

Remediation of the contamination was determined through 1992 agreement decided in court, which was amended in 2011 through another court action.

Up until March 2011, Pall was required to do a full cleanup of the 1,4 dioxane plume in all soil and groundwater to a level of 85 ppb (parts per billion).

The plume was divided in to western and eastern portions, with South Wagner Road as the dividing line. The court changed Pall’s remediation requirement for the western system from 85 ppb to 2,800 ppb, Gebhard said.

Pall is now treating less of the water from the groundwater in the western half of the plume -- resulting in less flow from the pumps to the treatment center.

“We understand the community is not happy that the company doesn’t have to do a full cleanup,” Kolon said. “As the regulatory agency, we have to let (Pall) do what is allowed by law.”

One of the 2011 amendments added a financial assurance mechanism to the agreement, which requires the company to provide financial documents to the DEQ that show they’ll be able to fund the remediation for the next 30 years.

The 30-year stipulation is not a time limit for the remediation, Kolon said.

Pall has its own lab to analyze samples from the monitoring wells.

“This is allowed, though it’s not necessarily normal,” Kolon said. “We’ve had some concerns with some of the quality of reporting.”

The DEQ has inspected Pall’s labs. Difference between samples analyzed by both Pall and the DEQ varied up to 20 to 30 percent, Kolon said. However, the data was not immediately concerning given the DEQ’s existing knowledge of the plume’s location, Kolon said.

At one time, Pall made their data sampling information available online. The company has since removed the access for the public and the DEQ, though Kolon said the DEQ is working to make its own data website for the dioxane plume.

The DEQ receives data from Pall’s samples and reviews it monthly.

Kolon said the DEQ is planning to the meet with Pall in the coming weeks because of sampling data that shows concentrations of 1,4 dioxane increasing in a well on the south side of the prohibition zone in Ann Arbor.

The DEQ would ask for additional monitoring wells to be installed in the area to see if the plume was moving beyond the prohibition’s buffer zone, Kolon said.

“If we see evidence that the plume is expanding, (the DEQ) would be back in court if (Pall) didn’t take steps necessary to increase the extraction,” Kolon said.

View Pall Life Sciences in a larger map

Amy Biolchini covers Washtenaw County, health and environmental issues for Reach her at (734) 623-2552, or on Twitter.


Jay Thomas

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

I am completely disgusted just looking at the map. It seems that the state and federal government is toothless when it comes to things like this. Time after time I hear about how the toxic goo should be left where it is (because it is TOO EXPENSIVE to clean it up) like GE polluting the Hudson river. Time to change that and start going after these toxic polluters. Make them clean up the mess they made so they don't eventually poison us or stick us with the bill.

Kai Petainen

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

Here's an example of a screw-up and how those who are supposed to protect us, aren't doing a complete job. An inspection is done, but samples aren't analyzed. In this document: They state that they are investigating Dioxane at Pall "On March 20 and 28, 2012, staff of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Water Resources Division IWRD~, conducted an inspection at the Pall Life Sciences" "In addition, DEQ staff collected effluent samples on March 20." "The operators analyze grab samples for hydrogen peroxide and pH at the green pump house and composite samples for I,4 -dioxane But guess what? Look at this next document by the DEQ. Someone screwed up on the March samples as they weren't analyzed. "Note that we returned in July because the March samples were not analyzed for 1,4 dioxane."

Kai Petainen

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 9:22 p.m.

Someone needs to get a comment from Rick Snyder. This is his hometown and those documents have his name on them (top left of documents). He hasn't commented on the oil/(acid?) that flowed down the river when he was campaigning and he hasn't commented on the dioxane in his town. Just because he lives here, has strong connections to SPARK/MDEQ and the University, should not excuse him from answering some questions about this stuff. I'll applaud Snyder for some stuff (the new bridge), but his record on environmental matters in his own home town -- sucks.


Sun, May 19, 2013 : 6:58 p.m.

This is remediation? Allowing it to spread throughout the City? It appears that almost of the City is in the groundwater contamination zone and it is still spreading. This happened years ago and originally only affected the homes directly across from Gelman. Why was it not stopped then? What is wrong with our DEQ that it has allowed this?


Sun, May 19, 2013 : 4:42 p.m.

While the news of closure is very disappointing (especially for those losing jobs), the article makes clear Pall will continue the cleanup. I would ask to put some additional history and information together on this story as it appears there continues to be misinformation from all sides. In addition, it would be good for to report on the other NPDES sites in Ann Arbor NOT related to Pall/Gelman(I believe there are several). Sites that are not being remmediated, including the old Ann Arbor dump site which I believe is also a source of 1,4 dioxane. It is my understanding 1,4 dioxane contaminated water is pumped untreated into the AA sewer system from the AA landfill site. The landfill is far closer to the drinking water well field at the airport and in my opinion of much greater concern to the city drinking water. Roger Rayle, you have been a great champion for the thorough clean up on the Pall site. Can you share information or look into the old Ann Arbor landfill site and add it to you reporting and watch list?!

Roger Rayle

Mon, May 20, 2013 : 1:46 a.m.

@ski&golfnut It's been a while since the landfill question has come up... which prompted me to dig out the old 3D displays that showed Pall/Gelman plumes vs the old city landfill plume from about 1997-1999 and take a photo. Here's a link to the image: At the bottom of that page, you'll also find a link to a new Google earth mashup comparing the two sites. So one can see both the "old school" displays and the new.

Kai Petainen

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 8:19 p.m.

"the article makes clear Pall will continue the cleanup" not quite. the article contradicts with the formal document that Pall sent out. there is a difference between marketing and reality.

Vince Caruso

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

It hard to understand how this cleanup is still held up in a court with no real expertise in toxicology, hydrology or chemical mitigation. The MDEQ should be directly handling this and not be forced to obtain permission from this court. The latest findings indicate a movement of the plume to the north east, a direction that was said never to happen. Even with a study by a MSU geologist showing it very well could make this move. The Prohibition Zone was recently expanded in this direction. Unfortunately Barton Pond is to the north east of the contamination and a major source (85-90%) of drinking water to the area. The state's environmental office should not be playing 'second fiddle' to a court on this major cleanup effort. There is enough information that this plume is now a threat to our drinking water and the community at large, and should change the direction of this cleanup. A glaring example of the problem is that the MDEQ has asked for more monitoring wells in the north east and the court has not made Pall add them. Pall has stopped making it's cleanup data available to the community as well. This in a cleanup of our groundwater, not Pall's. This plan to allow the pollution to flow to the river has not addressed many issues including the potential for the pollution in the ground water making it's way into residents basements as it gets closer to the river. The EPA has been making comments that the allowable level of this compound in a cleanup may be dropping to 8-3ppb or less because of changes in the level of EPA assigned cancer risk if found in drinking water. We are now at 2,800ppb flowing into to the river below Barton Pond and 85ppb elsewhere. The Part 201 Environmental Cleanup 'Business Friendly' standards for the State need to changed to avoid this type of environmental 'train wreck'. It's kind of hard to be the leading 'Cool City' in Michigan when you have no drinking water.

Milton Shift

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 2:16 p.m.

Yes, I'm amazed how little attention this is receiving. This situation looks like an impending catastrophe for Ann Arbor.

Roger Rayle

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

First let me congratulate for doing more than one article in a row on an important area issue (... the last such follow-up I can recall had something to do with a hit-and-run and three dead swans.) However, one story still to be told is Pall is getting out of town before stricter dioxane cleanup standards are set... and how the new standards have been delayed another year because the MDEQ failed to meet its own deadline to comply with the 2010 EPA findings that dioxane is more dangerous than previously thought and how states need to tighten dioxane drinking water advisory levels. California and Illinois tightened theirs to 1 ppb, while Massachusetts set theirs at 0.3 ppb. Michigan (#PureMichigan? ... stewards to 20% of the world's fresh surface water) kept their standard at 85 ppb! & 2800 ppb for most of the dioxane being left to spread after 20 years of Pall/Gelman cleanup. When and if the State tightens its dioxane standards now scheduled for December 2013, it may let the Pall/Gelman site slide with looser "site-based" cleanup standards allowed under new DEQ rules written by the DEQ's semi-secret Collaborate Stakeholders Initiative ... members of which were overwhelmingly the big polluters, their lawyers and consultants. More information about these issues (and more detailed maps) can be found by following the first few links at Also, SRSW and CARD will be at the Green Fair, Friday, June 14 and Huron River Day, Sunday, July 14 with the latest developments and to answer questions about the Pall/Gelman site.

Kai Petainen

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 8:21 p.m.

Roger. Email and ask them why they removed it. You're a credible source of info and I don't understand why they would censor what you said.

Roger Rayle

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 2:49 p.m.

For references relating to above, look up all references to "SB 1328" & "PA 446" as in "SB 1328, sponsored by state Sen. Tom Casperson, streamlines the regulatory approach to evaluating sites of environmental contamination. The bill is now PA 446."

Roger Rayle

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 2:44 p.m.

Darn, removed my reply with several DEQ web links documenting the items above... and I neglected to make my own control-C copy of them .. another half-hour or research wasted.

Kai Petainen

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 12:11 a.m.

You might not know this, but I know this because I was at a public regular meeting on the Dioxane issue and these students came there to investigate the issue. The University of Michigan has (or had?) a Charles and Rita Gelman Risk Science professor. I believe that particular professor ended that title at the end of 2012. Anyways, you know how the University always does studies on various things? Fracking, etc? Well, in 2012, the Gelman professor had his students do a senior project on Pall and the dioxane issue. The students met with folks that knew about the issue and they were to design recommendations on the issue. Eventually, the students created a report and showed it to the MDEQ and presumably Pall. That report, from my understanding has never been released to the public. Just like with other studies that the University does (fracking etc), it would be in the best interest of public health and safety that the results of that report be released to the public. I believe the presentation was taped. It would be especially interesting to see, since the Gelman professor was leading it and so it would be nice to see what they said about Pall. I don't know the results of that report, but in the fairness of transparency and disclosure and public health -- I want to know the results.

Kai Petainen

Sun, May 19, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

The particular professor who led that investigation is now the "National Science Foundation International Chair of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and the director of the University of Michigan Risk Science Center". He would be an expert on public health and he would understand why such a vital public health report would be vital for the public to see.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 10:14 p.m.

800,000 lbs is equivalent to many tanker-trucks full of the stuff. How could any company bring in so much of a toxic chemical without a plan for its safe disposal? It was CRIMINAL, not just negligent. It doesn't sound right that the company should sell and move out, leaving the city and the residents having to deal with an out of state corporation for additional cleanup or for cleanup beyond 30 years. I agree with those supporting a lien on this property.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 9:15 p.m.

If and when Pall sells this property, Scio and Ann Arbor need to put a lien on it for the clean -up


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 8:10 p.m.

Mr. Gelman was responsible for the dumping of dioxane. Evidently Pall got somehow compensated to take over the responsibility for the cleanup.

Kai Petainen

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 7:33 p.m.

"Scio Township Supervisor Clark said he's heard from the head of the environmental remediation at Pall, Farsad Fotouhi, that there will be a staff of about 20 people that will remain on the site. " It'll be important to get clarification on this. We need to know what is accurate/truthful. I updated my article with this: "According to an article at the Ann Arbor news by Amy Biolchini, 20 people will stay in Ann Arbor. However, I'll note that the statement in the article conflicts with the document that Pall released. According to Pall's document, they were firing 55 and giving job offer transfers to 12. That would imply that only 4 would stay in Ann Arbor. Which is correct — the document, or the Pall spokesperson? Is the 'press release' accurate or the 'marketing-like' statement by Pall? According to the article: "Scio Township Supervisor Clark said he's heard from the head of the environmental remediation at Pall, Farsad Fotouhi, that there will be a staff of about 20 people that will remain on the site."

Sandra Samons

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 6:21 p.m.

Is there no justice? It seems as if there should be a way to make this company take responsibility for the harm they have done! If not, it should be widely publicized. Maybe public shaming is in order. Maybe there are companies honorable enough to refuse to do business with them!

Milton Shift

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:23 p.m.

Two important points need to be made here about environmental messes and corporations: #1 The corporations are incapable of doing a proper cleanup, because they are not accountable to the public and do not have public interests in mind. Their incentives are profits, and cleanups cut into profits, so they will do everything they can to cut corners and weasel out of the obligation. #2 Those actually responsible rarely carry out the cleanup. The individuals who decided to enjoy the windfalls from being sloppy and making a big mess will escape with the money, and enjoy the fancy cars, big houses, and personal jets, by folding the company. There are tens of thousands of sites like these throughout Michigan, where no cleanup is underway. The taxpayer gets stuck with the bill, if anything gets cleaned up at all. So, what must be done is clear: void all liability protections offered by incorporating your company in cases like these, go after the personal assets of those responsible, hold them criminally liable, and have the cleanup operated by a transparent, public agency, not someone who just wants to wiggle out of the burden.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:50 p.m.

"go after the personal assets of those responsible" This is kinda why I've always been disgusted at the whole LLC a way I understand that it protects individuals from being financially ruined because a company can easily be worth 50 times that of the company owner, and thus can incur much greater liabilities. None the less, it STILL removed a ton of NECESSARY risk. I say necessary because risk has, is, and always will be the BEST incentive for performance. Profit is nice but you don't really fear making less profit. You will outright FEAR loss. No, as usual I do not have a solution to such a grandiose problem. However the LLC is not a good solution to that problem. The largest issue here is allowing corporations to act as persons. This needs to be stopped.

Milton Shift

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

Unacceptable for them to be let off the hook and allowed to not do a full cleanup. Amazing - they were deliberately injecting metric tons of a potent, water soluble carcinogen into the ground? If the death penalty is good for anything, this would be the place to start. Absolutely despicable. Were the people responsible for the mess itself actually held accountable? Or did it just turn into the usual "dang, there goes our profits" bankruptcy filing and firesale?


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

Ok so I found the latest numbers that Pall has released on the Dioxane plume. It appears that concentrations of dioxane in the plume are reducing overall....except where the plume seems to be expanding (why?) where the numbers are INCREASING.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:52 p.m.

This is how big corporations cut and run with their profits, sticking taxpayers with the toxic mess. It should be criminal that Pall is allowed to stop cleaning the contamination they have responsibility for. I just read the article on the 2011 court action and it didn't really accurately characterize that Pall was attempting to weasel out of their cleanup obligations. Further, their hiding test results from both the DEQ and the public is unacceptable.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:22 p.m.

If it's any consolation to anyone, they told me they checked the well on my property twice a year and they haven't checked it now for over a year now. They send me an assessment of the well testing too, and I haven't gotten an assessment in over a year now. I'm in the red too so I would think they would continually want to test my well. I'm wondering if they've completely slacked off their responsibilities here...


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 4:19 p.m.

So my wife just reminded me that in the last testing results we received the dioxane numbers had actually gone UP in some something like several hundred PPB in some places. I mean that's a tiny amount...but it's still an increase when it used to be a decrease.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:19 p.m.

"and for thousands of pounds of 1,4 dioxane that leaked into the groundwater more than 30 years ago" Um did not "leak" it was intentionally dumped....please don't try to diminish the damage this unscrupulous company did to our city...


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 9:11 p.m.

Thanks, Billy, absolutely it didn't leak! They hired high schoolers to help with the dumping, many who have since died of various cancers.

Kai Petainen

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

"Gelman used a reported 800,000 pounds of 1,4 dioxane. Since May 1997, the company's remediation efforts have removed more than 88,800 pounds of 1,4 dioxane." So 11% of it has been removed. "The company has since removed the access for the public " And yet this is an issue of public health and safety. The public is kept in the dark on this issue.

Kai Petainen

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:10 p.m.

Here's my take on it. "Pall Corp Closes Office In The USA, Issues Courtesy Firing Notice But No Press Release?" It references the other AnnArbor article that came out a few days ago. Readers might not know, but one city water well has already been taken offline because of the plume.

Kai Petainen

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

There are other sources for city water. But that one was taken offline as the city has a tolerance of (I believe) 0 ppb of Dioxane. If the other sources get hit with Dioxane, then we're in big trouble.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:13 p.m.

Does the city have any other wells in use other than the one at the airport?

Kai Petainen

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 2:05 p.m.

"Of the 71 employees at the facility, 55 have been given layoff notices. " "Farsad Fotouhi, that there will be a staff of about 20 people that will remain on the site." The math doesn't add up. One of the statements is incorrect. "If we see evidence that the plume is expanding, (the DEQ) would be back in court if (Pall) didn't take steps necessary to increase the extraction," Kolon said." I thought there was evidence of that already. BTW -- It's nice to see you're actually writing about the dioxane -- this is one issue that you've been avoiding for a long time.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 10:34 a.m.

Looking at the map (thanks for the link), the dispersion of the monitoring wells is insufficient to effectively monitor whether or not the dioxane plume has spread northeast to the city's main water plant along M-14, or east into the downtown area of the city. The dioxane plume could be much larger than the map indicates. Why aren't more monitoring wells being set up?