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CSWAB Petitions for Better Testing for Explosives

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Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) has made a formal request to state regulators asking that soil testing requirements at Badger Army Ammunition Plant be updated.  The recommendation follows the adoption of new state groundwater standards for all six isomers (forms) of the carcinogenic explosive DNT.

CSWAB first petitioned for regulation of DNT in 2006 when it became evident that adequate cleanup of Badger Army Ammunition Plant and other contaminated military sites would only be achieved with enforceable standards. On January 1, 2011 the State of Wisconsin adopted groundwater standards for all six isomers of DNT.  The new health-based standard, measured as the summed total concentration of all DNT isomers, is 0.05 micrograms per liter.  DNT has been detected in groundwater at Badger at concentrations as high as 22,000 micrograms per liter.

Until recently, only two forms of DNT (2,4- and 2,6-DNT) were regulated. The new groundwater standards add 2,3-DNT, 2,5-DNT, 3,4-DNT, and 3,5-DNT.  CSWAB wants soil and sediment testing requirements at Badger to be updated to include these additional isomers.

Technical grade DNT, which is a mixture of the six isomers, is known to cause cancer in animals. All six isomers have shown mutagenic effects in short-term studies. State health officials found that the four less common isomers of DNT are “as toxic or more toxic” than 2,4-DNT and 2,6-DNT.

All six isomers of DNT have been found in three groundwater contaminant plumes that have migrated offsite and are discharging into nearby natural springs, wetlands and surface water.  CSWAB wants better testing to encourage better cleanup of source areas and to help stop further migration of contaminants.

The Department of Defense has had the capacity to test soil for all six isomers of DNT for more than a decade.  In 2001, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tested soil samples from military training ranges at two Army installations: Fort Lewis in Washington and Fort Richardson in Alaska.  The soil testing detected three of the four isomers of DNT that CSWAB wants added at Badger.

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