ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality wants $700,000 to better monitor, track and understand a dioxane plume that slowly has been expanding in Ann Arbor.
The agency has asked state lawmakers to approve the allocation of Clean Michigan Initiative funds in fiscal year 2017, which starts in October, The Ann Arbor News reported. Dioxane is considered a probable human carcinogen.
Bob Wagner, the DEQ's Remediation and Redevelopment Division chief, said the agency would be able to use the money for environmental testing, monitoring groundwater, installing new monitoring wells and performing contaminant tracking.
It also could be used for providing alternate water to residents and businesses whose water sources might become contaminated. Local officials and residents have been calling on the DEQ to do more to help address the plume from the former Gelman Sciences site.
"We will provide safe drinking water to any resident or business that has well water ... exceeding the current criteria of 85 parts per billion, as well as the new proposed criteria that we'll soon be releasing," Wagner said.
New state cleanup standards will lower the permissible level of dioxane in groundwater to somewhere under 10 ppb, he said.
Currently, agency officials are limited by state law and court orders on what they can do from an enforcement standpoint. 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.
Local officials want to ensure the plume doesn't reach the Huron River, which runs through Ann Arbor, and Barton Pond, where the city gets most of its drinking water.
"My hope is still that the state and the city and Pall can work together to get the additional monitoring wells we think need to be installed," said Matt Naud, the city of Ann Arbor's environmental coordinator.
The plume is one of 13 contaminated Michigan sites in line for a funding boost totaling about $16 million, the newspaper reported.