For more than a year, members of Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) have been working with the Army to secure federal funding to hire a technical consultant to review an Ecological Risk Assessment for one of the largest contaminated sites at Badger Army Ammunition Plant. Contract officers with the Army at Rock Island (Illinois) said that it is now “too late” for a grant award before the public comment period expires later this month.
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) has stepped up and offered to pay for the selected consultant when local Army officials undermined the RAB’s funding request. The federal program, known as Technical Assistance for Public Participation or TAPP, provides funding to help affected communities pay for independent providers to review scientific studies that drive cleanup decisions at military bases. U.S. Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin co-authored a 1995 amendment to the Defense Authorization Act establishing the federal TAPP program.
Following a nationwide search for a qualified TAPP applicant, the RAB voted to hire a Virginia-based firm called Environmental Stewardship Concepts in September 2007. Despite numerous appeals from both the RAB and Kohl’s office, local Army representatives stalled contacting appropriate Army officials until it was too late to honor the RAB’s request.
The Ecological Risk Assessment is one of the most important studies ever done at Badger. It will help determine if toxic metals and explosives in soils pose a risk to wildlife. The recently-released study contradicts previous studies by the Army that recommended extensive cleanup of a 60-acre site known as the Settling Ponds and Spoils Disposal Area.
In a June 25 letter to the Army, members of the RAB – including representatives of the Town of Prairie du Sac, City of Baraboo, Village of Prairie du Sac, Town of Merrimac, Village of Merrimac, Sauk County, and CSWAB – said that they wished to continue the TAPP process. The board hopes to secure additional funding for a consultant to evaluate cleanup alternatives at the Settling Ponds area and other polluted sites. Many anticipate that the Army will try to avoid cleanup altogether and will argue that the risks of leaving contamination in place are minimal.
Dr. Peter deFur of Environmental Stewardship Concepts will present his findings at the upcoming RAB meeting scheduled for Monday July 21 at 6:30 pm at Badger. The meeting is open to the public.