Groundwater at Military Sites Should be Tested

MERRIMAC A new report released today by Citizens for Safe Water Around
Badger calls on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to set and
enforce health-based standards for perchlorate a toxic chemical that
is showing up in drinking water supplies across the country.

Elevated concentrations of perchlorate have recently been detected in
both surface water and groundwater in several western states,
particularly California, Nevada, and Utah. Perchlorate contamination
has also been found in Arizona, Texas, New York, Maryland, and Arkansas.
Ammonium perchlorate dissolves as easily as table salt and the resulting
anion is stable and can persist for decades in the environment; it moves
easily through both groundwater and surface water.

Perchlorate disrupts the function of the thyroid gland. In adults, the
thyroid helps to regulate metabolism; changes in thyroid hormone levels
may result in thyroid gland tumors. In children, the thyroid also
plays a major role in proper development and may harm the fetus and
newborn and result in changes in behavior, delayed development, and
decreased learning capability.

One major source of contamination is the manufacture or improper
disposal of ammonium perchlorate that is used as the primary component
in solid propellant for rockets, missiles, and fireworks. According to
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, potential sources of
perchlorate releases also include explosives manufacturing, propellant
testing and disposal, rocket manufacturing, rocket research and testing,
firing ranges, and propellant handling.

In 1999, EPA first required drinking water monitoring for perchlorate
under the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR). In accordance
with the UCMR, the EPA has required perchlorate testing for
approximately 80 public water supply systems in Wisconsin. Of these, 60
are large systems serving more than 10,000 people; the remaining 20 are
smaller systems. This required testing does not, however, extend to
remediation sites regulated by the WDNR.

Unlike many other states, monitoring for perchlorates has not been done
at any military sites in Wisconsin including Fort McCoy, Volk
Field/Hardwood Bombing Range, and Badger Army Ammunition Plant. At
Badger, the Army maintains that environmental testing for perchlorates
is not warranted as there are no records of its manufacture and use at
the facility. Lacking affirmative evidence from the Army that
perchlorates were used or disposed of at Badger, the WDNR has not
required perchlorate sampling. CSWAB’s investigation documents,
however, that perchlorate contamination has been found at other bases
when the military was sure perchlorate had never been used.

CSWAB believes comprehensive testing is in the best interest of nearby
families that rely on groundwater for their drinking water. The report
cites a number of reasons including lack of historical records for
handling and disposal of hazardous materials at Badger. Prior to the
mid-1970’s, there are no historical records for the types and quantities
of wastes that were burned, buried, or spilled. The report recommends
groundwater monitoring at Badger and other potential source sites
including former and active military facilities.

CSWAB was formed in 1990 by neighbors of the Badger Army Ammunition
Plant when groundwater contamination emanating from the base was
discovered in nearby private wells; rural families were exposed to high
levels of carcinogens in their drinking water for more than 15 years.
For information about how to receive a copy of the report (including pos
tcards to the WDNR and EPA) contact CSWAB by calling (608) 643-3124 or
by email at