Thousands of Wisconsin’s wells have been sampled and of the 59 different volatile organic compounds detected in Wisconsin’s groundwater, trichloroethylene (TCE) is the most common.

Local environmental group Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) has joined communities from across the U.S. in supporting proposed legislation seeking a stronger federal drinking water standard.

Recent scientific studies indicate that new TCE standards need to be set in order to protect public health however EPA has failed to act or set a timeline.  According to its website, EPA does not plan to release a revised standard until the end of 2010.

U.S. Senators Clinton, Kerry, Boxer, and Lautenburg recently introduced the “TCE Reduction Act” (S.1911) directing the Environmental Protection Agency to set revised standards for TCE in a timely manner.

TCE is a degreasing agent in metal cleaning that has been used widely in Department of Defense (DOD) industrial and maintenance processes.[1] Toxic levels of TCE have been detected at hazardous waste disposal sites at Badger Army Ammunition Plant including the Propellent Burning Grounds, the source of a groundwater contaminant plume that has migrated several miles offsite to the Wisconsin River.

In letters today to Senators Kohl and Feingold, CSWAB stresses that infants and children are especially vulnerable to environmental toxins.  Children take in proportionately greater amounts of environmental toxins than adults, their rapid development makes them more vulnerable to environmental interference, and their normal behavior patterns place them at greater risk to some toxins, CSWAB wrote.

According to DOD, the proposed reassessment of TCE may result in additional review of cleanup remedies at Badger Army Ammunition Plant and other military sites that utilized the former TCE toxicity values.

[1] United States Government Accountability Office (GAO), Environmental Contamination: Department of Defense Activities Related to Trichloroethylene, Perchlorate, and Other Emerging Contaminants, introduction/summary page, July 12, 2007.

TCE Reduction Act (.pdf file)

TCE Reduction Act Letter of Support (.pdf file)