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Posted on Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 5:57 a.m.

Changes on the way to clean-up plan for contaminated groundwater under Ann Arbor

By Juliana Keeping

At least six homes in the Evergreen subdivision will have to switch from well to city water under changes to the clean-up plan for a plume of contaminated groundwater under parts of Ann Arbor.

Changes were enacted this week between the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment and Pall Life Sciences in Washtenaw County Circuit Court following disputes between the two sides on how to move forward with clean up of the decades-old contamination.

Currently, thousands of households in the prohibition zone in the northwest section of Ann Arbor can’t use groundwater or dig wells due to concerns over dioxane pollution.


Workers drill a well in Ann Arbor in November 2008. Pall is in the process of installing four monitoring well clusters to detect movement of the plume.

File photo

Because some properties exist as township islands within the city of Ann Arbor, the switchover to the municipal water supply means the homes will be annexed to the city and the residents will pay the taxes associated with city life.

The prohibition zone exists due to a patchwork of contamination sites locals call the Gelman plume. It fans out in the groundwater from the Pall site at 600 S. Wagner Road both to the east into township and to the west in a swath under the west side of Ann Arbor. The plume is estimated to be roughly a mile wide and three miles long.

Pall would be required to pay for the homes’ hook-up to the city water supply, said Sybil Kolon, a senior environmental quality analyst for the MDNRE. There may be more homes on wells that need to be switched to the city water supply within the new, larger prohibition zone, Ann Arbor officials said.

"It's Pall's responsibility to investiage the new expanded prohibition zone, find where the wells are and then get those properties connected to city water," said Molly Wade, water treatment services manager for Ann Arbor.

The two sides began negotiating the most recent changes to the plan since 2008. Pall inherited the responsibility to clean 1,4 dioxane pollution created by Gelman Sciences between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s when Pall purchased the company in 1997. Dioxane is an industrial solvent that was used to manufacture medical filters at Gelman.


Under changes to a clean-up plan between the state and Pall Life Sciences, a prohibition zone that restricts the use of groundwater has been expanded into the Evergreen subdivision area. Portions of groundwater under Ann Arbor are polluted with dioxane 1,4.

An agreement reached in Washtenaw County Circuit Court Tuesday means the MDNRE will provide oversight over these and other revised clean-up provisions:

• Groundwater under a portion of Ann Arbor’s Evergreen subdivision will monitored for the possible human carcinogen 1,4 dioxane rather than cleaned up. Some remediation will continue under Evergreen, but at a lower rate.

• Pall is in the process of installing four monitoring well clusters to detect movement of the plume. MDNRE officials can ask Pall to add more, though that is not covered in the latest agreement, Kolon said.

• Pall could build a new underground pipeline to its Wagner Road facility to treat tainted groundwater under the Maple Village shopping center, Kolon said. Most of the pipeline is in place, but a connector pipe along Dexter between Maple Road and Allison Drive would be necessary.

• Around the Pall Life Sciences facility off of Wagner Road, the company will reduce how much water it is purging from the ground, treating and discharging to the Honey Creek tributary.

The MDNRE will host public hearing explaining these and other changes to the clean-up plan 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30, at Abbot Elementary School, 2670 Sequoia Parkway, Ann Arbor.

Juliana Keeping is a health and environment reporter for Reach her at or 734-623-2528. Follow Juliana Keeping on Twitter


Jeff Renner

Sat, Mar 12, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

You wrote, "It fans out in the groundwater from the Pall site at 600 S. Wagner Road both to the east into township and to the west in a swath under the west side of Ann Arbor. ." You have reversed your directions - it's west into the township and east under the city.

Bertha Venation

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

Oh ya... this is just great! Now my mother will be homeless, because Ann Arbor City taxes are so high... Thanks A LOT!!!


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 5:11 p.m.

$121 a month, plus the water bill, which includes a guesstimate on sewer usage, plus impervious surface runoff fees. At least their footing drains won't be connected.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

I feel sorry for those township residents. They definately need a clean supply of water but now their taxes are going to go up considerably. Based on the state of MI calculator comparing a $200,000 home in the city versus Scio Twp., the annual tax bill goes up from approx. $3,104 to $4,564 which is an extra $121 per month. That's some pretty expensive tap water.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

Just curious, has anyone thought about Arbor Springs and their water that they get from underneath Ann Arbor?


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

@alterego here is a larger of the map <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.

Dog guy, and you prefer that the people there continue to be poisoned? Andy, Gelman knew what he was doing and he was smarter than the bureaucrats. Dale, they want to dump it in Honey Creek and the Huron River. Their sewer!? Ah, that sweet taste of dioxane. Natures bounty!

Dog Guy

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

At least six homes in the Evergreen subdivision will have to switch from well to city water, giving the City of Ann Arbor direct access to the homeowners' life savings for whatever the city hall gang wastes the water utilities income on.


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

Everyone please send a nice &quot;Thank You&quot; note to Mr. Charles Gelman because he &quot;didn't know&quot; pouring 1,4 dioxane on the ground could have any adverse affects. While he profited greatly at Gelman Sciences and also through the sale of his company to Pall the rest of the community, homeowners and ecosystem didn't fare so well as they continue to be harmed each and every day that passes. What a legacy! Keep trying to buy your way out of the guilt. <a href=",1607,7-135-3311_4109_9846_9847-71595--,00.html" rel='nofollow'>,1607,7-135-3311_4109_9846_9847-71595--,00.html</a>


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 3:18 p.m.

My understanding is that Pall wants to clean up more water, but has met strong resistance to the plan, of which the last step is to dilute the dioxane contaminated water and then discharge it.

Roger Rayle

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 3:17 p.m.

This is bad news. Back in May 2009, the DNRE rejected (<a href="" rel='nofollow'>;feature=player_embedded)</a> Pall/Gelman's plan (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> to let more dioxane to spread unremediated, but now after 20+ months of secret negotiations between the DNRE and Pall/Gelman ... and without any prior public disclosure and hearings on what was negotiated, it is already part of the revised Consent Judgment. (This reflects the weakness of Michigan's current environmental rules.) This action not only transfers more costs and risks to the public... it allows the responsible party, Pall/Gelman, to prematurely walk away from the site and avoid an effective, protective, and community-acceptable cleanup. Prepare for the March 30th public meeting by visiting and <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> for updates and links to more information, including actual sampling data depicted on Google Earth mashups you can download and view for yourselves. We will be posting more updates and commentary in the coming days. --Roger Rayle-- Scio Residents for Safe Water (SRSW) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 2:47 p.m.

If Pall had taken care of this at once, instead of fighting in the courts for years, this problem would now a) be fully resolved, and b) have cost them significantly less money.

David Briegel

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 2:12 p.m.

Shame on all the bureaucrats for allowing wells to provide contaminated water to our fellow citizens this long after the problem came to their attention. Why are they not ashamed? What is your job?


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

May we please have a link to a larger version of the map? Thanks.

Roger Rayle

Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

Here are links to the Prohibition Zone maps on the DNRE website: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Soon I'll be posting a separate KMZ file for the Prohibition Zones so anyone can view the areas affected in detail on Google Earth or on Google Maps. (Wouldn't it be nice if the State provided this?) In the meantime, you can find the Prohibition Zones in this mashup: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Fri, Mar 11, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.

I found a larger version here <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>