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

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. 


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

For over ten years, the cleanup criterion for 1,4-Dioxane in Michigan has been 85 ppb.  This is in spite of the fact that in 2010, the EPA in recommended 3.5 ppb as the screening level for a one in 100,000 cancer risk. Finally, the Michigan DEQ has proposed a safer limit:  7.2 ppb.  Today—Earth Day—WEMU’s “The Green Room” looks a how this may affect Ann Arbor’s groundwater cleanup.


Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

In the past two decades, Michigan’s dioxane standards have seen extremes, going from 3 to 85 parts per billion (ppb).  Now 7.2 ppb is being proposed by the MDEQ.  Other states' standards are all over the map.  The EPA’s current recommended levels for dioxane exposure vary greatly as well, depending on multiple factors.   In this installment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at some reasons why it is so hard to come up with uniform guidelines for safe levels of dioxane.


Roger Rayle / Scio Residents for Safe Water

Since 1995, 4,000 prohibition zones have been put in place in Michigan to “manage risk,” i.e. prevent people from coming into contact with contaminated soil or water.  In this installment of WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at how the balance between cleaning up pollution versus managing the risk is playing out when it comes to the Ann Arbor area's 1.4 dioxane plume. 


Roger Rayle / Scio Residents for Safe Water

Over the next few months, WEMU's environmental feature, 'The Green Room.' will focus exclusively on the 1,4 dioxane plume that is impacting groundwater in the Ann Arbor area. Following last week's initial report looking at how another major city is handling its dioxane issues, we take the next step in exploring whether solutions in Tuscon, Arizona might work here. 


Roger Rayle / Scio Residents For Safe Water

In the United States, approximately 10 million pounds of 1,4-dioxane are produced each year.  It is being detected in groundwater at dozens of sites across the country.  Once thought to be relatively benign, new science says otherwise.  Costs to clean it up are high, and communities are grappling with how to deal with it.  In this installment of  “The Green Room,” WEMU  explores the experiences of two cities:  Ann Arbor, Michigan, and Tucson, Arizona. 

 

 

Barbara Lucas / 89.1 WEMU

80 percent of Americans drink coffee, and global consumption is projected to rise by 25% in the next five years.  Some is sustainably-grown, some isn’t—and impacts can add up.  In this installment of 89.1 WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas explores how the price of coffee can affect far more than your wallet.  


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