FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MERRIMAC — Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) learned today
that the Army will identify and sample wells that may be impacted by
groundwater from the Deterrent Burning Grounds (DBG), an area located
inside the far northeast corner of Badger Army Ammunition Plant in the
Township of Merrimac.
The decision relates to data collected in March 2001 east of the DBG.
Monitoring wells along the fence detected concentrations of the
explosive dinitrotoluene (DNT) in the 3-6 micrograms per liter (ug/l)
range. These levels far exceed the Public Health Groundwater Quality
Standard of 0.05 ug/l. In humans, inhalation and dermal exposures to
DNT effect the heart, circulatory, and central nervous systems; it is
classified by the EPA as a probable human carcinogen.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) officials said the data
appears unusual since it was the first time DNT was detected in the
wells and that the concentrations would be so high. Other wells near
the DBG and Existing Landfill that have detected DNT have been in the
0.1-0.3 ug/l range.
N-nitrosodiphenylamine, another chemical used in the manufacture of
munitions, was detected in the March round but wasn’t detected in
previous rounds. The Army resampled the wells in June. Those samples
were split between the Olin lab and another lab to make sure the March
results weren’t a lab error. The June results also show DNT, but the
concentrations are much lower than the March round. DNT levels were
generally in the 0.1-0.3 ug/l range and n-nitrosodiphenylamine wasn’t
detected in the June round. According to health officials, long-term
exposure to unsafe levels of n-nitrosodiphenylamine in drinking water
may cause liver disease and cancer in humans.
There is one private well off the northeast corner that is sampled on a
regular basis, the WDNR said. That well doesn’t show any detections of
DNT. The Army has identified another private well further to the north
and is making arrangements to also sample that well.
Doug Rubingh from Stone & Webster, a private consulting firm working on
the cleanup at Badger, said the Army has decided to complete a review of
all the data, and past geologic/hydrogeologic work that has been
completed in the northeast corner of the plant. Stone & Webster will be
starting this week on that review. The results of their review may
include recommendations for additional study and delineating, if need
be, any DNT plume in that area. Some additional information on this
review should be available for the next monthly WDNR/Army meeting at
Badger on August 6th. It is not known whether the full review will be
completed by that time.
The DBG was used for the open burning of deterrents, structural timbers,
asphalt shingles, and office waste during Badger’s active years.
Deterrent is an organic liquid used to modify the burning
characteristics of nitrocellulose. Subsurface soils at the DBG are also
contaminated with high levels of DNT. According to Army reports, the
volume of contaminated subsurface soils is around 38,000 cubic yards and
extends to a depth of 120 feet. Expected cleanup costs may be as high
as $65 million.
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger was first organized by neighbors
of the Badger plant in 1990. Led by a board of local community members,
CSWAB plays a critical role in assuring nearby residents know the extent
of local pollution, facilities are adequately cleaned up, and future use
does not threaten natural systems. For more information, visit their
website at www.cswab.org