Merrimac, WI – In response to a formal petition by Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB), the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has asked the Wisconsin Division of Public Health to develop health advisory levels for newly detected groundwater contaminants at Badger Army Ammunition Plant. The group also wants nearby residential wells to be tested for the munitions-related compounds.
CSWAB has targeted five (5) contaminants – p-nitrotoluene, m-nitrotoluene, o-nitrotoluene, 2-amino-4,6-dinitrotoluene, and nitrobenzene – that have been found in groundwater but do not have enforceable state or federal drinking water standards. With the exception of nitrobenzene, the detected compounds are not included in the Army’s test methods for nearby residential drinking water wells.
The compounds were detected this fall as part of a one-time or “special event” test by the Army. In response to concerns raised by CSWAB, the Army agreed to test more than 40 groundwater monitoring wells located near a hazardous waste dump on the far west side of the closing military base. The Army did not include offsite monitoring wells or private drinking water wells in its testing.
Four of the contaminants – p-nitrotoluene, m-nitrotoluene, o-nitrotoluene, and nitrobenzene – are degradation compounds of the explosive Dinitrotoluene (DNT). DNT was first detected in private drinking water wells in 2002. Low levels of DNT continue to be detected in residential wells as far away as the Dam Heights neighborhood in the rural township of Prairie du Sac. Two residential wells, which have been replaced by the U.S. Army, had DNT concentrations exceeding state standards.
The remaining compound, 2-amino-4,6-dinitrotoluene, is a primary reduction product of the explosive 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT). Historical Army reports document that TNT was dumped in waste pits at Badger.
CSWAB is pushing for a similar investigation at the northeast corner of Badger in the town of Merrimac where dumping and burning of hazardous munitions wastes occurred in the 1970’s. The explosive DNT has also been found in groundwater here.