PRAIRIE DU SAC, WI – Recent groundwater testing by Badger Army Ammunition Plant has confirmed that the explosive DNT has migrated farther from the base than previously thought. Low levels (below the safe drinking water standard) of the carcinogen have been detected in groundwater monitoring wells as far south as the Village of Prairie du Sac, nearly 2 miles away. Nearby residents are stunned that the WDNR is not going to require the Army to test nearby private drinking water wells.
“The WDNR argues that detected levels are below health standards but there is no guarantee that these same levels are present in nearby drinking water wells,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB, a local community-based group monitoring environmental problems at Badger. “It is normal for contaminant levels to fluctuate over time. The standard for DNT is only 0.05 micrograms per liter so even a tiny increase is serious.”
This is not the first time the Army has reported DNT in residential wells near Badger. In the spring and summer of 2004, tests showed that at least 16 homes had low levels of contamination. The WDNR later made a public announcement that the results were “false positives” and that earlier lab reports were erroneous. Following the announcement, the Army discontinued providing bottled water and stopped testing the majority of these homes.
Starting in June 2005, the Army began using a new test method that the WDNR said would assure “scientific certainty” if DNT is present. In June and again in September of 2005, this method confirmed that low levels of DNT are present in groundwater monitoring wells along Keller Road, County Z, and just north of the Village of Prairie du Sac near Hwy 78.
In June 2005 (but not in September), DNT was also detected in a groundwater monitoring well at the northeast boundary of Badger in the Township of Merrimac.
“Waiting until levels are too high and people are exposed is completely unacceptable,” Olah said. “There is no scientific certainty that children and unborn babies are not harmed by even very low levels of exposure to DNT. There is simply no margin for error.”
Prairie du Sac’s nearby municipal well continues to be part of the Army’s ongoing monitoring plan and DNT has never been reported in this well.
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