Barbara Lucas

Host

Barbara received a master's degree in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan.  She began her association with WEMU in 2003 as an intern with Washtenaw County, assisting with the weekly "Issues of the Environment" show.  In 2003 she also began working in documentary film, and later established her own video production company.

Continuing her work with the County as an environmental media consultant, Barbara Lucas works in video, television, and radio to communicate and explore the environmental issues that affect our community.

Ways to Connect

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

The U.S. is out of the Paris Climate Accord.  Despite lack of support from the current administration, many are heartened by the growing interest in finding solutions emanating from other levels of government. In this installment of WEMU’s "The Green Room," Barbara Lucas explores a fundamental question:  at what level will it be most effective to concentrate our efforts? 

 

 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

More and more people are opting to cycle rather than drive for at least some of their transportation, whether for personal health, or for the health of the planet.  But safety is an issue, and emotions run high.  Conflicts occur over who has a right to the roadway. Should we encourage bicycles in the street, or should we try to separate bikes from cars?  In this installment of WEMU’s Green Room series, Barbara Lucas explores varying perspectives.


Ellen McDonald

Because natural burial has environmental benefits over conventional burial, it is often favored by those who like to “go green.”  But it also can appeal for other, more conservative reasons.  It’s the choice of some independently-minded rural folks, and to many religious traditionalists.  Additionally, it can help out the local businesses that serve the growing demand.  In this installment episode of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at natural burial benefits that go “beyond green.” 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Many of our most cherished North American songbirds are in trouble.  It’s primarily due to habitat loss—whether through development, agriculture, or climate change.  But, cats and glass, i.e. collisions with buildings, are also huge problems for birds.  Although there are definite challenges to reducing these threats, there also are solutions. 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Carbon taxes are a seemingly simple way to deal with the climate crisis. As the price of fossil fuels goes up, consumption goes down.   But fears of negative economic impacts have kept the idea from moving forward in the U.S.  Now, a group of leading Republican elders has a proposal that goes a step further.  They call it “Carbon Dividends,” because the taxes collected are returned to the public.  What is the local reaction?  In this installment of WEMU’s “Green Room” series, Barbara Lucas sets out to find out.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Every parcel slated for development comes with a host of environmental considerations, from stormwater control to cleanup of soil contamination.  Two of the considerations most hotly debated in the Ann Arbor area are greenspace and density.  In this month’s “Green Room” segment we look at the question, “How does density impact our quality of life, and the health of our environment?”  


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

For two decades the State of Michigan’s “containment” policy has allowed polluters to leave contamination in place rather than clean it up.  4,000 such “prohibition zones” exist in the state.  In our ongoing look in the Ann Arbor area's 1,4 dioxane plume, we look at the ramifications of that kind of policy.  


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

As concern rises and detection methods improve, 1,4-Dioxane is being discovered in water sources across the country. Central to formulating remediation plans is determination of the safe level of exposure to this probable human carcinogen. What constitutes a true hazard as opposed to an “acceptable risk?”  Barbara Lucas goes in search of the answer in this 24th installment in our series on the Ann Arbor area’s 1.4 Dioxane Plume in “The Green Room.” 


City of Tucson

At a September work session, Ann Arbor City Council members asked city staff if the current water treatment plant could accommodate equipment to remove 1,4 dioxane,  just in case it becomes necessary in the future.  In this installment of 89.1 WEMU’s “The Green Room,” we look at what such a water treatment process looks like in action.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Ann Arbor’s dioxane plume is rather unusual, in that it emanates from just one source. That source is the old Gelman Sciences facility on Wagner Road in Scio Township. Other area's of dioxane contamination around the country, such as  the KL Avenue Landfill in Kalamazoo, have many “Responsible Parties” contributing to the contamination problem. Even with a single source, assigning responsibility for clean-up remains complicated in Ann Arbor.  In this installment of "The Green Room"  we try to untangle the confusing web of who is who when it comes to liability. 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

The cast of players involved with Ann Arbor’s dioxane problem has changed many times over in the thirty years since the contamination was first discovered.  Some say that’s part of the problem:  it’s hard to stay motivated to tackle problems that go on seemingly indefinitely. Luckily, there are a few people in the community who have stuck with it, keeping the issue in the public forum.  In this segment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” we talk with one of them.


In our previous 18-installments on the Ann Arbor area’s 1, 4 dioxane plume, we’ve heard from citizens, scientists, and government officials; both locally and from other dioxane sites around the country. Meanwhile, requests for interviews with the “Responsible Party”—Gelman Sciences, Pall Corporation or Danaher, are all met with silence.  In this episode of “The Green Room,” we learn, that wasn’t always the case. 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

When considering the expanding 1,4 dioxane plume in groundwater in the Ann Arbor area, money plays a significant role. Further determinations need to be made on how best to clean up the pollution. In this 18th installment on the dioxane plume, Barbara Lucas explores what the clean-up goals should be, how much money is needed and who should pay. 

 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Good communication between all parties involved is central to productive conflict resolution.  Some say it needs improving when it comes to dealing with Ann Arbor’s dioxane-contaminated groundwater. In this segment of our ongoing series, Barbara Lucas looks at the question:  “What part does communication play in how we move forward?”


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Environmental Protection Agency risk assessments indicate that the drinking water concentration representing a one in a 100,000 cancer risk level for 1,4-dioxane is 3.5 parts per billion, and for a one in a million cancer risk it is .35 ppb.  Only three states still have double-digit drinking water guidelines for dioxane:  New York, South Carolina, and Michigan.  Obviously, what is “safe” is subject to subject to interpretation, and is influenced by many variables.  But there is growing awareness that what is safe for you, may not be safe for your children or grandchildren. 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

A plume of 1,4-dioxane has been spreading under Ann Arbor since the 1980s.  During this time, numerous homes on private wells have had dioxane in their drinking water before being hooked up to city water.  Is that the only source of dioxane to consider when weighing body burdens?  In the 15th of our series on 1,4-dioxane, Barbara Lucas looks at other ways people can be exposed to this chemical of emerging concern.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

Flint’s lead crisis has led to an increased concern about the dioxane plume in Ann Arbor’s groundwater.  In this 14th segment of WEMU’s “The Green Room” series on the Ann Arbor contamination plume, Barbara Lucas considers the dioxane content of bottled and tap water.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

1,4-Dioxane is a suspected human carcinogen and a contaminant of “emerging concern” for the EPA.  It has been found in over a thousand public water supplies across the country, including thirty in Michigan.  Will those who’ve been exposed to Ann Arbor’s contaminated groundwater develop health issues?  It’s a question that may be of concern far beyond our borders, and the focus of our report in "The Green Room." 


Courtesy Image / https://www.epa.gov/

On June 14th a resolution was passed by the Scio Township Board of Trustees aimed at addressing the 1, 4 dioxane plume that has spread from the old Gelman Sciences facility on Wagner Road. It seeks Superfund designation from the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners and City of Ann Arbor are considering similar resolutions.  A meeting is being arranged between all government entities involved, at the local, state and federal levels. Until that meeting takes place, there are many unknowns and much speculation.  In this week’s 'The Green Room' segment, we look at one perspective.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

It’s been over three decades since Ann Arbor’s groundwater contamination was discovered, and throughout this time, citizen science and community advocacy have had a crucial role.  In this edition  of 'The Green Room,' Barbara Lucas looks at the uphill battle from its earliest steps.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

  The National Priorities List is the list of hazardous waste sites in the United States eligible for long-term remedial action financed under the federal Superfund program.  Currently there are 1,171 sites on the NPL, either being cleaned up or waiting for their turn.  Should Ann Arbor’s 1,4-dioxane contamination be “listed” too?  Weighing benefits against potential stigma costs is the subject of this week’s Green Room segment in our ongoing series.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

In 1980 Congress created the Superfund to clean up hazardous waste sites that have passed criteria placing them on the “National Priorities List.” If and when funding becomes available for a site, the EPA works with the state’s DEQ to remediate it.  When polluters can’t be made to pay to clean them up, the Superfund pays, using taxpayer money. In Michigan, there are currently 65 sites on the National Priorities List.  Should Ann Arbor become one of them?

 


wikipedia

The University of Michigan’s research in human and environmental health is of global import.  Should the university “think local” as well?  In this segment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at the University of Michigan and the Ann Arbor area’s 1,4-dioxane contamination. 

 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

For almost thirty years, a “responsible party” (Gelman Sciences, Inc.) has been legally and financially responsible for the 1, 4 dioxane contamination of  groundwater inthe Ann Arbor area.  This is in contrast to many contamination sites where cleanup falls totally on taxpayers. But the plume remains, and some question if enough resources are being devoted to its remediation.  In this installment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at money, and how it impacts Ann Arbor’s contamination problem. 


Roger Rayle / Scio Citizens for Safe Water

Local citizens and scientists have amassed large amounts of information on Ann Arbor’s 1,4-Dioxane plume. Locally sourced information has been invaluable since University of Michigan student Dan Bicknell first discovered the plume.  It has continued with 23 years of data collection by Roger Rayle of Scio Residents for Safe Water.  Has the information been put to good use?  Has it informed decision-makers?  In this installment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas continues her exploration of this ongoing issue. 


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