Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) is challenging a WDNR proposal to cover up readily-accessible contamination at a major hazardous waste disposal site at Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Contaminated soils at the Propellant Burning Grounds are the source of a 3-mile plume of contaminated groundwater that discharges to the Wisconsin River just north of the Village of Prairie du Sac.
“The Army only evaluated excavating the entire soil column to a depth of more than 100 feet so the option was quickly dismissed,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB. “The WDNR should evaluate the potential for a more moderate approach to source removal; this additional step could save millions of dollars by significantly reducing the number of years groundwater extraction is required.”
CSWAB is urging the WDNR to require excavation of another 10 to 20 feet of the most contaminated soils before the Army installs a permanent cap over the entire site. The Propellant Burning Grounds, located on the west side of Badger near U.S. Highway 12, contains 3 major waste pits with explosives concentrations as high as 17,000 parts per million (ppm). By comparison, the approved cleanup goal for subsurface soils is only 1 ppm.
The community-led group also points to the failure of a similar hazardous waste site that was capped in 2003. Despite the cap, unsafe levels of explosives have been detected in groundwater more than 3,000 feet from the Deterrent Burning Grounds – a disposal site that is located in the northeast corner of Badger in the rural township of Merrimac.
The Army has announced that it will begin testing the wells of 26 neighboring families to see if their water has been affected by groundwater contamination from the Deterrent Burning Grounds. The residential well sampling is planned for August 6 and 7.
Historical waste disposal activities at both the Propellant and Deterrent Burning Grounds were very similar. Army records indicate that approximately 500 gallons per week of liquid chemical wastes were dumped in unlined pits at the Propellant Burning Grounds from 1966 to 1970. After 1970, these wastes were dumped and burned at the Deterrent Burning Grounds. Toxic contaminants included dinitrotoluene, diphenylamine, dibutylphthalate, benzene, and trinitrotoluene.
CSWAB’s 28-page report also calls for contaminant free water for groups that are especially vulnerable to environmental toxins including infants and children, and workers and area residents who have already been exposed to contamination from Badger.
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger is a non-profit environmental organization that was formed in 1990 by neighbors of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant in support of a healthy and sustainable future. The entire report and related documents are available on CSWAB’s website at www.cswab.org. The public comment deadline for the WDNR’s proposal is August 1.