Mercury May be Elevated in Air around Badger

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CSWAB has asked the Wisconsin Division of Health to investigate a preliminary report that levels of mercury in the air near Badger Army Ammunition Plant may be elevated.

According to an internal memo dated May 15, 2003, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has detected mercury downwind of the ammunition plant using a Lumex monitor, a handheld monitor which can be carried into the field to measure mercury in the air.  “The mercury monitoring that we’ve done around BAAP is extremely limited,” a WDNR official told CSWAB. “For a time, we had a Tekran analyzer (continuous 5 minute average mercury readings) located near Devil’s Lake State Park.  There was not a great deal of mercury observed, but one of the two wind directions which were associated with slightly higher results was to the southwest, towards BAAAP from the site.”

CSWAB has been waiting since May to receive copies of air monitoring results.  “I’m not sure if there is really enough information to get excited about,” one WDNR official said. “As I recall, there did seem to be a slight increase in concentration around one of the inlets to Lake Wisconsin where I believe some (mercury-contaminated) sediment removal was done several years ago.”

“Please note that the more that we have used the survey instrument, the more that we have realized that it really is just a survey instrument,” WDNR said.  “Results from this instrument can be indicative of the presence of mercury, but the instrument varies enough that slight variations in response may or may not reflect actual conditions.  We have become increasingly wary of reporting anything obtained with this instrument as results, preferring to use it to scout out locations to place the more reliable instrument for longer term readings.”

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