Today, members of the Badger Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) took the first step in a formal appeal of the Army’s recent denial of their request for an independent technical advisor.

The January 24 letter to the installation director at Badger Army Ammunition Plant asks the Army to reconsider its decision to deny the board’s application for funding to hire an independent provider under the federal Technical Assistance for Public Participation (TAPP) program.

According to Army guidance, if a TAPP appeal is not resolved with local Army officials, the appeal proceeds up the chain of command to as high as the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Installations, Energy and the Environment. Badger officials said that they are not aware of any other RAB that has undertaken such an appeal.

The requested consultant would review and interpret the Army’s pending Alternative Feasibility Study for the largest contaminated site at Badger. The 60-acre Settling Ponds area spans the width of the Badger property from U.S. Highway 12 to the Wisconsin River. Much of the site is classified as meadow wetlands.

If approved by state regulators, proposed changes at the Settling Ponds would allow the Army to leave behind much higher concentrations of soil contamination than are currently allowed.

As justification for its denial, the Army said that either the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) or contractors working for the military could provide the requested technical support. However, the board maintains that that neither the Army nor the WDNR are in a position to provide the RAB with independent technical interpretation and review of their own work.

“We believe that having an independent provider will enhance environmental cleanup at Badger and will help assure that the board and the public have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the potential environmental and human health implications of proposals by the WDNR (as the regulating agency) and the Army (as the regulated agency),” the RAB wrote.

RAB members who signed the letter include Laura Olah (CSWAB), Mary Carol Solum (At Large Member), Bill Wenzel (Village of Prairie du Sac), Bill Stehling (At Large Member), Ron Lins (RAB Community Co-Chair and Town of Prairie du Sac), Dick Anderson (At Large Member), Charlie Wilhelm (At Large Member), Lance Delaney (At Large Member), Mary Jane Koch (At Large Member), Michele Hopp (Village of Merrimac), Judy Ashford (Sauk County Board), Paul Herr (Town of Merrimac), and Ken Lins (At Large Member).