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Washtenaw County's Motion to Take Legal Action on 1,4-Dioxane Granted

Washtenaw County, Washtenaw County Public Health and the Washtenaw County Health Officer will now be a part of negotiations to clean up 1,4-dioxane contamination

county logoUPDATE, Dec. 15: Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Tim Connors granted the county's motion to intervene in the longstanding legal case against Gelman Sciences.

"Of course those who have a statutory duty or a legal responsibility or the entrustment of the public need to be at that table because a collective wisdom of viewpoints in solving a problem is always preferable," Connors said. 

See the full article from Ryan Stanton with the Ann Arbor News.

The Motion to Intervene

Washtenaw County, Washtenaw County Public Health and Health Officer Ellen Rabinowitz are using the authority of the health officer to take legal action on the 1,4-dioxane contamination issue. To protect the public’s health, Rabinowitz, the department and the county filed a motion in Washtenaw County Circuit Court earlier this month seeking to intervene in the litigation between the State of Michigan and Gelman Sciences, Inc.

The motion allows the named local entities to participate in future discussions and agreements to clean up the local 1,4-dioxane contamination.

“As the local public health authority, we feel it’s critical for us to be involved in these decisions moving forward,” says Rabinowitz. “We have new rules in place in Michigan with regard to 1,4-dioxane, and we’re looking forward to seeing these used to clean up the contamination and to fully protect our residents’ health.”

On Oct. 27, 2016, the State of Michigan issued Emergency Rules lowering the cleanup criteria for 1,4-dioxane. Importantly, these rules recognized the local contamination as a public health threat and acknowledged that the prior groundwater criterion, set at 85 parts per billion, was “insufficient” to protect the public’s health. The emergency rules established a new 1,4-dioxane cleanup criterion for drinking water at 7.2 parts per billion and set a vapor intrusion screening criterion of 29 parts per billion.

To date, there has been no effective cleanup of the 1,4-dioxane contamination in Washtenaw County. For this reason, the health officer, the department and the county jointly filed the motion to be included in future legal action. 

Washtenaw County Public Health

wcph logoWashtenaw County Public Health promotes health and works to prevent disease and injury in our community. Our mission is to assure, in partnership with the community, the conditions necessary for all residents to live healthy lives through prevention and protection programs. This includes taking legal or emergency actions to protect the public’s health, when needed, and using the authority vested in the local health officer.

Washtenaw County Public Health achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board and maintains state accreditation though the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. For more, visit or call 734-544-6700. Public Health is located at 555 Towner Street in Ypsilanti. The Environmental Health Division is located at 705 N. Zeeb Road in Ann Arbor and reachable by phone at 734-222-3800.

Additional Information

1,4-Dioxane and Washtenaw County Groundwater

CARD: Coalition for Action on Remediation of Dioxane

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