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DNR hosts 15th public input session on PFAS contamination in Marinette, Peshtigo Wednesday

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 5:42 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is holding an online public listening session Wednesday afternoon.

The DNR’s 15th listening session is about the PFAS contamination in the City of Marinette, Town of Peshtigo and surrounding communities.

The DNR will give an update on well testing, foam testing and remediation efforts by JCI/Tyco.

PFAS are a group of man-made chemicals used in numerous products from firefighting foam to non-stick cookware. These chemicals do not break down naturally and have been known to cause health problems.

During the listening session Wednesday afternoon, the DNR gave an update on well testing and surface water foam testing in ditches nearby the JCI/Tyco plant.

Of the 578 mailers the DNR sent to landowners in the area, 72 percent allowed the DNR to test their wells. Almost 300 wells tested positive for PFAS, but the levels did not exceed the hazard index. However, 32 of them did. Those landowners are now receiving a one-year supply of water from the DNR as they continue to look at long-term solutions.

“Our primary priority was to determine who had impacted and to make arrangements for them to get water,” said Bridget Kelly, DNR Remediation and Redevelopment Program PFAS Team Leader.

The DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program Project Manager, Alyssa Sellwood, gave an update on surface foam water found in ditches near the site.

“A broad takeaway here today is, you know, to be aware that there is PFAS dissolved within that surface water and when you see that foam, those concentrations of PFAS may be higher in that material,” said Sellwood.

Awareness is key, which is something the DNR is focusing on. Right now, there are 20 ‘advisory signs’ along the ditches where PFAS contamination has been detected. However, people in the area don’t think the signs do enough.

“A few concerns with this sign, most notably some language that appears to be conflicting and confusing, as well as, the simplistic, black and white design that probably doesn’t do the best job of capturing the attention of passer-bys,” said Amanda Koch, an environmental hazard health educator with Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services.

Koch said they are in the process of reviewing the signs to improve language, design and placement, including a warning to pet owners.

In terms of remediation efforts, the DNR said JCI/Tyco is in the process of removing contaminated soil from the area.

“The contaminated soils are being put onto roll-off boxes that are then taken by railcar to a facility for disposal in Oregon,” said Sellwood. “This work has started and it’s expected to be completed coming up this fall.”

Future plans include a groundwater extraction and treatment center, which is a network of 9 extraction wells to capture the contaminated groundwater.

“In general, that water will be pumped up with submersible pumps to a network or infrastructure of subgrade pipes that will transfer the water to a treatment building,” said Sellwall.

The DNR said JCI/Tyco plans to have that built by the end of the year.

WHAT:

Representatives from the DNR and DHS will be available to answer questions and hear concerns from community members regarding the PFAS cleanup and investigation.

WHEN:

Wednesday, July 21, 2021 from noon - 2 p.m. and 6 - 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:

Online Zoom meeting link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82669792625

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