CONTACT: Christine Haag, Remediation & Redevelopment Program Director, 608-266-0244, [email protected]
Green Bay, Wis. – The Department of Natural Resources has provided emergency drinking water to a homeowner near Marinette after testing by the owner showed the presence of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in the individual’s private well.
PFAS contamination has been detected in the Marinette and Peshtigo area in soil, sediment, groundwater, surface water, private drinking water wells and biosolids. Under the oversight of the DNR, Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI) and its subsidiary Tyco Fire Products have been identified as responsible parties and have been directed by the DNR to conduct site investigations of areas impacted by PFAS contamination in the Marinette and Peshtigo area due to their companies’ operations.
The property with the contaminated well is located near the ongoing, groundwater study area for PFAS contamination. The DNR first offered JCI/Tyco the opportunity to resample the homeowner’s well and provide emergency water. After JCI/Tyco declined that offer, the DNR stepped in to work with the homeowner to provide alternative drinking water and re-sample the well to validate the results. The DNR will re-evaluate the groundwater contamination study area boundaries and JCI’s/Tyco’s site investigation plan based on this new information.
PFAS are a group of human-made chemicals used for decades in numerous products, including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam. These legacy contaminants have made their way into the environment in a variety of ways, including spills of PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams.
PFAS can persist in the environment and the human body for long periods of time. Recent scientific findings indicate that exposure to certain PFAS may have harmful health effects in people. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), exposure to some PFAS substances above certain levels may increase the risk of adverse health effects, such as thyroid disease, low birthweights and cancer.
The DNR has scheduled a series of listening sessions to ensure that the public receives timely information about PFAS contamination in the Marinette-Peshtigo area. The next session is scheduled for January 15, at noon and 6 p.m. All listening sessions will be held at the Community REC Center, 2501 Pierce Ave., Marinette.
The DNR, in consultation with the Department of Health Services (DHS), is also developing groundwater, surface water and public drinking water standards for PFAS. DHS provided the DNR with recommendations for groundwater standards in June. The DNR will continue to work closely with DHS and local health officials to ensure that the public stays informed of these situations when they develop.
Gov. Tony Evers has also asked the DNR to work with state agencies and local partners to take additional actions, including establishing a PFAS Coordinating Council and public information sites to inform the public on the matter of PFAS and the risk these chemicals pose to public health and Wisconsin’s natural resources.