Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger: Badger Advisory Board appeal successful

The U.S. Department of Army has reversed a local installation decision which denied a request for federal funding to hire an independent technical advisor for communities dealing with contamination from Badger Army Ammunition Plant.

The successful appeal by the Badger Restoration Advisory Board (RAB) sets a national precedent. Army officials said that they are not aware of any other community that has formally challenged a decision under the federal Technical Assistance for Public Participation (TAPP) grant program.

The Army’s August 5 letter also approved a waiver request making $25,000 available to the community board which includes representatives of local, county, state, tribal and federal government.

The decision will allow the RAB to engage a consultant to review and interpret the Army’s pending Alternative Feasibility Study for the largest contaminated site at Badger. The 60-acre Settling Ponds area spans the width of the Badger property from U.S. Highway 12 to the Wisconsin River and is classified as meadow wetlands. If approved by state regulators, the proposed changes at the Settling Ponds could allow the Army to leave behind much higher concentrations of soil contamination than allowed under current approvals.

“We believe that having an independent provider will enhance environmental cleanup at Badger and will help assure that the board and the public have a clear and comprehensive understanding of the potential environmental and human health implications of proposals by the WDNR (as the regulating agency) and the Army (as the regulated agency),” the RAB wrote to the Army.

In late 2010, Badger’s Installation Director turned down a request from RAB members for funding under the TAPP program. In accordance with Army guidance, the RAB started the appeal process beginning with local Army officials and then proceeding up the chain of command to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army, Installations, Energy and the Environment.

Of the 13 items listed in the RAB’s application, the Army’s letter said that “most of the outlined task and work products being sought have been determined to be eligible, a couple of projects require additional refinement and a few activities have been identified as ineligible.”

Members of the RAB’s TAPP Committee sent a letter to the U.S. Army Environmental Command today (August 25) clarifying the need for those activities still needing approval.

RAB members supporting the appeal including Mary Carol Solum (At Large Member), Bill Wenzel (Village of Prairie du Sac), Bill Stehling (At Large Member), Ron Lins (RAB Community Co-Chair and Town of Prairie du Sac), Dick Anderson (At Large Member), Charlie Wilhelm (At Large Member), Lance Delaney (At Large Member), Mary Jane Koch (At Large Member), Michele Hopp (Village of Merrimac), Judy Ashford (Sauk County Board), Paul Herr (Town of Merrimac), Ken Lins (At Large Member), and Laura Olah (CSWAB & TAPP Committee Chair).