Explosives Found in Rural Merrimac Well

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The explosive compound dinitrotoluene (DNT) has been detected in another residential well in the town of Merrimac – a scenario that neighbors of Badger Army Ammunition Plant say could have been avoided if the military and environmental regulators had been proactive.

“Until the source of the problem is cleaned up, these toxins will continue to spread and more wells will become contaminated,” said Laura Olah, a town resident and Executive Director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger. “DNT concentrations in groundwater are as high as 4.6 parts per billion which is more than 90 times the health advisory level of 0.05 for drinking water.”

CSWAB is not the only group worried about the contamination affecting this rural community. In response to increasing concerns about groundwater quality, the Town of Merrimac board passed a resolution in February calling on the Army to “take immediate and proactive steps to assure that drinking water wells are clean and free of contaminants from Badger Army Ammunition Plant.”

The U.S. Army recently released test results showing that low levels of DNT and 1,1,2-trichloroethane were found in the rural Merrimac well in June. This is the first time that DNT has been found in this well since the Army began testing it in 1988. Low levels of the solvent 1,1,2-trichloroethane were also detected in this well in March of this year.

Both compounds are found in groundwater at Badger and are classified as human carcinogens. Contaminant levels in the affected residential well are currently below recommended thresholds and the water is considered safe to use, health officials said.

The primary source of the contamination is the Deterrent Burning Ground – a closed hazardous waste disposal site located in the northeast corner of Badger. Groundwater contamination from the site flows under Badger land that is now owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and has moved beyond the plant boundary to the Weigand’s Bay area.

For more information, the public is invited to attend the upcoming meeting of the Restoration Advisory Board scheduled for Wednesday, September 29 at Badger Army Ammunition Plant. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.

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