Dioxane Plume Pollution:
Who should deal with the groundwater contamination in a university town?
Actors from the local to national level deliberate about limited remediation where cleanup is costly.
Anna Prushinskaya, Allen Burton, and Rita Loch-Caruso
A local Ann Arbor industry severely contaminated the aquifer beneath the city with a carcinogenic chemical, 1,4-dioxane, decades ago. Since then, the chemical plume has continued to migrate through the city and county, contaminating local lakes and private drinking water wells, while en route to the city’s drinking water supply. The state’s consent decree with the industry may not be protective of wildlife and citizens. To some, the federal, state and local response to the ecological and public health risks has been disappointing. Local advocacy has challenged authorities to resolve the issue. Some say designating the site as one of the nation’s worst (i.e., a Superfund site) could force a better cleanup, while others fear that labeling Ann Arbor as a toxic site could bring negative consequences such as decreased property values. What should be done?