Merrimac Town Board Asks WDNR for Public Hearing

On January 5, CSWAB appeared before the Town of Merrimac board and informed local officials of the Army’s formal request for exemptions to state groundwater standards for nitrate, nitrite, manganese, and arsenic at a new landfill inside Badger Army Ammunition Plant. The landfill is being constructed for the disposal of demolition debris and other contaminated wastes resulting from base cleanup and closure.

Town officials voted to submit a formal request to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) for a public hearing to gain a better understanding of the potential environmental and public health implications of the Army’s proposal.

The Army’s November 24 request to the WDNR was prompted by the discovery of contamination in three new monitoring wells. Initial testing by the Army detected concentrations of manganese as high as 370 parts per billion (ppb) which is far above the groundwater Enforcement Standard of 50 ppb. Dissolved arsenic was detected as high as 20 ppb, exceeding the state standard of 10 ppb. Subsequent testing produced lower results. Nitrate and nitrite test levels were also elevated but did not exceed enforceable standards.

Groundwater contour maps prepared by the Army indicate that groundwater at the landfill flows toward rural residential wells in the Summer Oaks and Inspiration Drive neighborhoods. Although the state has not yet issued a permit for the landfill, the Army is already in the early phases of construction. WDNR officials said that this is allowed as long as the Army does not place any wastes in the landfill.