Explosives contamination from the closing Badger Army Ammunition Plant continues to plague groundwater in an area extending from Weigand’s Bay in Merrimac to the Village of Prairie du Sac. The detected explosive is dinitrotoluene (DNT), a suspected human carcinogen that was used in the production of munitions at the closing military base.
This summer, in accordance with a permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), the Army tested groundwater and drinking water wells in neighboring rural areas including the Windings of Wisconsin, Dam Heights, Gruber’s Grove Bay, Water’s Edge, and Weigand’s Bay. The results were released to the public late last week.
In the town of Merrimac, levels of DNT in groundwater at the plant boundary have exceeded safe drinking water guidelines. A monitoring well located just west of Weigand’s Bay detected total DNT concentrations at 0.182 parts per billion (ppb), exceeding the health advisory level of 0.05 ppb. So far, the Army reports that DNT has not been detected above safe levels in nearby farm family wells.
Groundwater contamination is emanating from the Deterrent Burning Grounds, a hazardous waste disposal site that is more than 3,000 feet northwest of Weigand’s Bay. Groundwater monitoring wells at the burning grounds recently detected total DNT at 5.14 ppb which is more than 100 times the health advisory level of 0.05 ppb for drinking water.
The Army recently agreed to test additional residential wells in the Weigand’s Bay area. Test results for these homes are still pending.
In the Windings/Dam Heights area, located in the rural town of Prairie du Sac, three (3) of the five drinking water wells tested by the Army had low levels of the explosive DNT.
The highest concentration found in a private well in this area was 0.035 parts per billion (ppb) which is below the health advisory level of 0.05 ppb. According to the Wisconsin Division of Health, total DNT concentrations below this level are considered safe to drink and use.
Immediately south of Badger in the town of Prairie du Sac, the Army reported low levels of DNT in three (3) residential wells along Keller Road. Nearby in the Gruber’s Grove neighborhood, the Army tested 2 drinking water wells; 1 well had low levels of DNT. Contaminant concentrations in all these wells are currently below safe drinking water guidelines.
The WDNR recently asked the Army to test ten (10) additional wells located in both the Windings/Dam Heights and Gruber’s Grove Bay neighborhoods. Test results for these wells are also pending.
A new water well installed by the Dairy Forage Research Center farm for its cows had 2,6-DNT at 0.048 ppb, just below the groundwater standard of 0.05 ppb. The well is located inside Badger and west of the farm on U.S. Highway 78.
The Army will present additional information at the upcoming public meeting of the Badger Restoration Advisory Board. Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) will be introducing a resolution calling for additional private well testing, improved monitoring of the Village of Prairie du Sac well #3, and the development of a contingency plan that will assure safe drinking water now and in the future.
The public meeting will be held at Badger Army Ammunition Plant on Monday, September 24,