WDNR Should Enforce Cleanup of Explosives

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Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) is urging the WDNR to respond to increasing levels of explosives in groundwater at the closing Badger Army Ammunition Plant near Baraboo.  In a July 9 letter to WDNR Regional Director Lloyd Eagan, CSWAB asks for additional private wells testing, installation of more monitoring wells, and a plan to assure that groundwater and nearby drinking water wells are safe now and in the future.

Test results presented by the Army at a June 18 public meeting indicate increasing problems with groundwater quality in the northeast corner of Badger.  The main contaminant of concern is the explosive dinitrotoluene (DNT).

The Army reported that levels of four isomers (forms) of DNT (2,3-DNT, 2,5-DNT, 3,4-DNT and 3,5-DNT) have climbed as high as 9 parts per billion which is 180 times the state standard for the 2 other isomers of DNT.   The groundwater enforcement standard for both 2,4-DNT and 2,6-DNT is only 0.05 parts per billion.

Despite these findings, the WDNR continues to argue that an enforcement action is not possible because Wisconsin does not yet have a groundwater standard for all isomers of DNT. CSWAB is challenging the WDNR saying that state law clearly authorizes the Department to take action necessary to protect public health and groundwater resources even if enforceable standards have not yet been established.

The source of the DNT contamination is the Deterrent Burning Grounds, a hazardous waste disposal site inside the northeast corner of the plant.  The Army installed a landfill cap over the area in 2003.  As part of Badger’s facility-wide permit, the WDNR requires the Army to regularly monitor four nearby residential wells.  So far, the Wisconsin Division of Health says these drinking water wells are safe to use.

Groundwater from the Badger site is moving toward the Weigand’s Bay area in Merrimac Township.  The Army said that in March 2007, a monitoring well near the bay detected low levels of 2,6-DNT, 2,3-DNT, and 3,4-DNT.  The monitoring well is located more than 3,000 feet from the Deterrent Burning Grounds.

CSWAB maintains the increasing groundwater contaminant levels at the plant boundary warrant testing more homes as soon as possible.  The call for expanded testing has been supported by members of the Badger Restoration Advisory Board, including the Town of Merrimac.

The 4 isomers of DNT detected at the northeast corner of Badger have also been found in private wells in the Windings, Water’s Edge, and Dam Heights neighborhoods north of Prairie du Sac.  CSWAB is also petitioning for expanded testing there.

Map of Badger area showing DNT detections (.pdf file)

CSWAB July 9 letter to Lloyd Eagan (.pdf file)

Attachments to CSWAB July 9 letter (.pdf file)

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