Hilgenberg Urges DNR to Address BAAP Groundwater Contaminants

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On behalf of residents in his district, State Representative Steve Hilgenberg is encouraging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to respond to concerns about unregulated groundwater contaminants originating from the Badger Army Ammunition Plant (BAAP).

“In specific, local stakeholders are concerned that 2 of the 6 forms of DNT are unregulated by state groundwater standards, that unregulated forms of DNT have been found in residential neighborhoods in Sauk County, particularly near Weigand’s Bay, and that the U.S. Army is not performing the level of testing needed to identify and eradicate harmful contaminants, as well as determine the path of contaminated groundwater near BAAP,” Hilgenberg says in his November 24 letter to the DNR’s Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater.

The DNR recently received approval from the Natural Resources Board to hold public hearings related to the addition of 15 new substances to the State’s groundwater quality standards including all forms of dinitrotoluene (DNT) – a carcinogenic explosive that has contaminated dozens of drinking water wells near Badger in the rural townships of Merrimac, Sumpter and Prairie du Sac.  Based on recommendations from senior toxicologists at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, all 6 isomers (forms) of DNT will be regulated as a single entity.  The standard is 0.05 parts per billion – equivalent to the current Health Advisory Level (HAL) recommended by state health officials.

“As you know, the cleanup at BAAP is largely designed to eliminate groundwater contaminants related to the past production of explosives and munitions,” Hilgenberg said. “Accordingly, revisions to NR 140 could give local health organizations the means to enforce suitable groundwater/drinking water standards, and I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate our concerns and encourage continued intergovernmental cooperation.”

Local environmental group Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) first petitioned the DNR to establish enforceable standards for DNT in 2006.  The group is actively supporting DNR’s proposed health standard for DNT but would like the proposed health standard for perchlorate – an explosive compound used in rocket motors – lowered from 7 parts per billion (ppb) to 1 ppb to be more protective of infants and children who are most susceptible to harm.

“I understand that the DNR is processing feedback from local stakeholders and health experts that have submitted comments related to NR 140 and groundwater contamination related to the production of explosives and munitions,” Hilgenberg said.  “I appreciate all the work (DNR is) doing with these groups to implement dependable groundwater protections.”

In Wisconsin, the 2,3-DNT isomer has been detected in 103 groundwater and private water wells at concentrations as high as 2,200 ppb.  The 3,4-DNT isomer has been detected in 37 wells at levels as high as 419 ppb.  The 3,5-DNT isomer has been detected in 20 wells at concentrations as high as 23.9 ppb and the 2,5-DNT isomer has been detected in wells at concentrations as high as 1.5 ppb.

“In specific, local stakeholders are concerned that 2 of the 6 forms of DNT are unregulated by state groundwater standards, that unregulated forms of DNT have been found in residential neighborhoods in Sauk County, particularly near Weigand’s Bay, and that the U.S. Army is not performing the level of testing needed to identify and eradicate harmful contaminants, as well as determine the path of contaminated groundwater near BAAP,” Hilgenberg says in his November 24 letter to the DNR’s Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater.

The DNR recently received approval from the Natural Resources Board to hold public hearings related to the addition of 15 new substances to the State’s groundwater quality standards including all forms of dinitrotoluene (DNT) – a carcinogenic explosive that has contaminated dozens of drinking water wells near Badger in the rural townships of Merrimac, Sumpter and Prairie du Sac.  Based on recommendations from senior toxicologists at the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, all 6 isomers (forms) of DNT will be regulated as a single entity.  The standard is 0.05 parts per billion – equivalent to the current Health Advisory Level (HAL) recommended by state health officials.

“As you know, the cleanup at BAAP is largely designed to eliminate groundwater contaminants related to the past production of explosives and munitions,” Hilgenberg said. “Accordingly, revisions to NR 140 could give local health organizations the means to enforce suitable groundwater/drinking water standards, and I’d like to take this opportunity to reiterate our concerns and encourage continued intergovernmental cooperation.”

Local environmental group Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) first petitioned the DNR to establish enforceable standards for DNT in 2006.  The group is actively supporting DNR’s proposed health standard for DNT but would like the proposed health standard for perchlorate – an explosive compound used in rocket motors – lowered from 7 parts per billion (ppb) to 1 ppb to be more protective of infants and children who are most susceptible to harm.

“I understand that the DNR is processing feedback from local stakeholders and health experts that have submitted comments related to NR 140 and groundwater contamination related to the production of explosives and munitions,” Hilgenberg said.  “I appreciate all the work (DNR is) doing with these groups to implement dependable groundwater protections.”

In Wisconsin, the 2,3-DNT isomer has been detected in 103 groundwater and private water wells at concentrations as high as 2,200 ppb.  The 3,4-DNT isomer has been detected in 37 wells at levels as high as 419 ppb.  The 3,5-DNT isomer has been detected in 20 wells at concentrations as high as 23.9 ppb and the 2,5-DNT isomer has been detected in wells at concentrations as high as 1.5 ppb.

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