Victory over Pentagon Pollution of Wisconsin’s Groundwater
Citizens Key to New Groundwater Standards for PFOA and PFOS
Laura Olah / Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger
(June 28, 2019) — Today, the Wisconsin Division of Health issued its recommendations for groundwater quality standards for PFOA and PFOS – the culmination of years of work by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)!
The health-based threshold of 20 parts per trillion will be for the summed total concentration of both chemicals in groundwater – the source of drinking water for more than two-thirds of Wisconsin residents.
CSWAB first turned its attention to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in 2017 when environmental testing by the Department of Defense found high concentrations of these chemicals at military bases around the U.S. A formal open records request by CSWAB to the Wisconsin DNR revealed extension PFAS groundwater contamination at military and industrial sites around the state.
In September 2017, CSWAB formally petitioned the State of Wisconsin for health-based standards for the two most common forms of PFAS: PFOA and PFOS. Shortly thereafter, the Wisconsin DNR issued responsible party letters to military sites with widespread PFAS contamination including Volk Field, Truax ANG, Fort McCoy and others.
Recognizing the scope of the problem, CSWAB organized the PFAS Community Campaign – a statewide coalition of organizations based in Wisconsin working together to prevent exposures to PFAS via drinking water and other pathways.
In August 2018, CSWAB formally petitioned the Wisconsin DNR for a Health Advisory Level (HAL) for the summed-total concentration of all PFAS detected in the State’s groundwater or posing a risk to groundwater such as presence in soils. Among them were the 19 PFAS chemicals detected in soils and groundwater at the Tyco/Johnson Controls Fire Systems in Marinette, Wisconsin.
In January 2019, the Wisconsin DNR granted our petition for 26 PFAS compounds that pose a threat to the State’s groundwater. These additional health-based thresholds will be issued in the coming year and beyond – again prompted by CSWAB’s efforts!
So today we celebrate this success and wish to thank everyone who has supported CSWAB’s ongoing work to regulate, safely remediate, and ultimately secure a ban on the production and use of PFAS!
Today we made a difference. Thank you!
PFAS Community Campaign Timeline
• CSWAB successfully petitioned the State of Wisconsin for drinking water standards for perchlorate – a toxic compound found in munitions. Today, Wisconsin has one of the most protective standards in the U.S. at 1 part per billion.
• The organization successfully petitioned the State for groundwater standards for the explosive DNT. Today, Wisconsin is the only state with health-based standards for all six forms of this chemical mixture. Wisconsin’s health-based standard for the summed total concentration of DNT is 0.05 parts per billion.
• CSWAB successfully petitioned for enforceable standards for degradation products of DNT which were then unregulated by Wisconsin, EPA or any other state in the nation. The request was made after these compounds were detected in groundwater under the Badger Army Ammunition Plant in Sauk County.
• We successfully petitioned for Health Advisory Levels for five (5) previously unregulated degradation products of the explosives DNT and TNT, establishing the first such standards in Wisconsin and setting a national precedent in the United States.
• CSWAB turned its attention to PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) when environmental testing by the Department of Defense found high concentrations of these chemicals at military bases around the U.S. and here in Wisconsin.
• The organization successfully petitioned the State of Wisconsin for drinking water standards for the two most common forms of PFAS – PFOA and PFOS.
• We submitted a formal open records request to the DNR for information about all known PFAS sites in Wisconsin, revealing PFAS problems at military and industrial sites around the state.
• The Wisconsin DNR finally issued responsible party letters to military sites with PFAS contamination including Volk Field, Truax ANG, and Fort McCoy.
• CSWAB formally organized the PFAS Community Campaign — a coalition of organizations based in Wisconsin working together to prevent exposures to PFAS via drinking water and other pathways.
• CSWAB formally petitioned the Wisconsin DNR for a Health Advisory Level (HAL) for the summed-total concentration of all PFAS – including precursors – detected in the State’s groundwater and/or having a reasonable probability of entering groundwater such as presence in soils. Among them are 19 PFAS detected in soils and groundwater at the Tyco/Johnson Controls Fire Systems in Marinette, Wisconsin.
• A joint letter organized by CSWAB and co-signed by 17 organizations called on the Wisconsin DNR to develop Surface Water Quality Criteria for more than only two of thousands of known PFAS chemicals.
• The DNR granted CSWAB’s formal petition to regulate 26 PFAS and to consider regulation as a class. The decision included an additional 10 PFAS compounds posing a threat to Wisconsin’s groundwater as a source of drinking water, bringing the total to 36 PFAS.
• CSWAB organized a statewide statement, co-signed by 13 organizations, that cleanup methods and remedies should be fully protective of human and ecological health, prevent toxic emissions/releases, be readily and properly monitored, and provide permanent solutions.
• Formal comments to state legislators organized by CSWAB and co-signed by 28 Wisconsin-based organizations supported the assessment of exposure and biological impact of PFAS as a class.
• A formal complaint by CSWAB ended the previously-permitted direct discharge of PFAS-contaminated groundwater to the Black River by the City of La Crosse.
• CSWAB organized formal comments to the EPA co-signed by more than 50 organizations objecting to proposed federal site screening levels and preliminary remedial goals for PFAS as the proposed thresholds are not protective of human health particularly infants, children and expectant mothers.
Laura Olah is the Executive Director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger | (www.CSWAB.org) and Coordinator of the PFAS Community Campaign
E12629 Weigand’s Bay South, Merrimac, WI 53561 | P: 608 643 3124 |