Scio Township

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

While the federal advisory level is 3.5 parts per billion, the amount of dioxane the State of Michigan allows in drinking water is 85 ppb, one of the highest standards in the country.  High levels mean less extensive remediation plans, a boon to industries responsible for the cleanups.  But, could the resulting water pollution negatively impact other businesses, and the local economy in general?  In this installment of  WEMU’s “The Green Room,” Barbara Lucas looks at various perspectives on this question.

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

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.

Courtesy Image /

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.

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. 

Facebook/The Ride

Major changes will take place this Sunday, May 1st at The Ride in Washtenaw County.  

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.

The Ride

Representatives from the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, also known as "The Ride," will pass out information on service improvements.  

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

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. 




A 1,4 Dioxane plume has contaminated the well water of a family in Washtenaw County.

Facebook/The Ride

In less than a week, Scio Township voters will decide if they will approve a millage that would expand public bus service in that area. 


For nearly a decade officials in Dexter have been in the process of making the switch from a village to become a city.  Voters get a final say in November.  Some see it as an opportunity, while others are concerned with what could be lost.


Michigan's next city could be in Washtenaw County.  Voters in the Village of Dexter decide in November if they approve of a proposed city charter.  Don't expect a lot of changes regardless of the outcome of the vote.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards

Proposed changes to state law would allow some townships to regulate oil and gas drilling.  Critics of oil drilling in Washtenaw County say the bill doesn't go nearly far enough.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards

It's ball one in Scio Township.  A Traverse City-based oil and gas company was looking for a strike as it dug its first exploratory well in search of fossil fuel deposits, but missed the plate.  Some local lawmakers and drilling opponents now hope to get on base in Lansing.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards

The Scio Township Board of Trustees unanimously passed a six month moratorium on all oil and gas operations.  A lead critic of the drilling says this is already making a difference.

Patrick Gibson West Bay Exploration
Andrew Cluley / 89.1 WEMU

Efforts to block West Bay Exploration from drilling for oil in Scio Township have failed. The township board will still consider a temporary moratorium even though drilling has begun.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards

A Grassroots Organization Vows To Fight On To Prevent Oil Drilling Despite Court Loss 

 Residents of Scio Township are somewhat divided about drilling for oil in their neighborhoods.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards

Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge David Swartz has ruled against Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards request for a temporary injunction to prevent the drilling of an exploratory well in Scio township.  It's a victory for West Bay Exploration and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards

Citizens for Oil-Free Backyards has filed suit in Washtenaw County Circuit Court, seeking to derail plans for an exploratory oil well in Scio Township.

The suit alleges the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality doesn't abide by its own permitting rules, and that the public was only involved in the process in a superficial manner. 

The MDEQ says its permitting process has a great record of prevailing in such cases. 

West Bay Exploration Company wants to drill the well.  It says the suit will delay the process, but looks forward to moving ahead with drilling.