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WI DNR encouraged by EPA’s new plan to combat PFAS pollution

The Wisconsin DNR continues to monitor PFAS contamination in well-water and soil up in the Marinette and Peshtigo areas.
PFAS contamination
PFAS contamination(WBAY)
Published: Oct. 18, 2021 at 3:05 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2021 at 7:52 PM CDT
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Wis. (WBAY) - The federal government is joining the fight against ‘forever chemicals’ as the EPA announces a new plan to combat the pollution of PFAS.

For years, Action 2 News has been following the issues caused by the man-made chemicals that are often found in firefighting foam and non-stick cookware.

The Wisconsin DNR continues to monitor PFAS contamination in well-water and soil up in the Marinette and Peshtigo areas.

As we’ve previously reported, the DNR linked PFAS groundwater contamination in the area to firefighting foam manufactured at Johnson Control’s Tyco Fire Products Facility in Marinette.

Recently, the ‘forever chemicals’ have been found in groundwater on the other side of the state near La Crosse and Eau Claire.

On a national level, PFAS cleanup assessments are being done on nearly 700 Department of Defense installments and National Guard locations. Those are not expected to be done until 2023.

On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a ‘PFAS Roadmap’ which aims to accomplish three main things: prevent PFAS contamination, create a national water quality standard and hold polluters accountable.

Last September, Wisconsin banned the use of firefighting foam that contains PFAS, with two exceptions. The EPA is efforting a PFAS-free firefighting foam alternative, while also supporting research on the effects PFAS exposure may have on career firefighters. Research shows PFAS pollutants are linked to serious health conditions, including cancer.

The second goal is to increase testing to accelerate research and regulatory development. Right now, the Federal Government doesn’t have a water quality standard pertaining to PFAS. In fact, Wisconsin officials have been trying to set their own standards but have yet to come to an agreement. So the goal for the EPA would be to set a drinking water limit for PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

The third goal is to hold polluters accountable, require companies to report how much PFAS is in their products, and make them pay for the cleanup.

In August, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kail announced the state hired outside counsel to handle potential PAFS claims, saying “The addition of outside counsel will enhance our ability to get accountability from those who are responsible for the severe harms that PFAS contamination has caused in Wisconsin.”

The Wisconsin DNR released this statement following the federal government’s news Monday: “We are encouraged to see the Biden Harris Administration and several federal agencies showing their coordinated and ongoing commitment to confront PFAS contamination nationwide, including the EPA’s comprehensive PFAS Strategic Roadmap and the DOD’s cleanup assessments at the nearly 700 DOD installations and National Guard locations where PFAS was used or may have been released. The Wisconsin DNR has a long history of water protection and remains committed to ensuring safe water in Wisconsin.”

In total, 8 different federal agencies will be involved in the new EPA Roadmap to combat PFAS pollution. The Food and Drug Administration will expand the testing of the food supply to figure out dietary exposure to PFAS from food, specifically seafood.

For more information on PFAS in Wisconsin, go to www.dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/PFAS

For a closer look at the Biden-Harris Administration announcement, click PFAS Roadmap.

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