Soil Contamination Could Trump Future Uses at Badger

by Free Speech on February 11, 2010

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI

The U.S. Army has proposed limiting camping and other future uses in lieu of cleanup for certain areas at Badger Army Ammunition Plant.  If approved by state regulators, the request will relieve the Army of its responsibility to clean up soil contamination on land parcels slated for transfer to the State of Wisconsin, the Bluffview Sanitary District, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The Army’s recently-disclosed proposal challenges a 1995 permit approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) which specifies both the contaminants of concern and the maximum amount of contamination that the Army can leave in soils after cleanup.  The Army wants to increase allowed levels of the carcinogenic explosive 2,6-DNT, for example, from 4.29 to 620 parts per million(ppm).  Soil cleanup goals for lead would increase from 30 to 500 ppm.

“The Army is spending millions of dollars trying to avoid a cleanup that is so easily accomplished,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, a community-led group that has worked for sustainable reuse of the closing military base for almost 20 years.  “Much of the contamination is limited to the top few feet of soil where it can be easily and safely removed.  The military simply doesn’t want to spend the money required to do a good job.”

The Army’s proposal relies on land use controls to help limit human exposure to residual contamination.   These controls could include prohibiting camping, restrictions on hunting, restrictions on grazing/agriculture, fences, deed restrictions, and re-classification of certain areas as “industrial.”

“This initial proposal is specific to the Settling Ponds – an area that spans the width of Badger from U.S. Highway 12 to the Wisconsin River,” Olah emphasized.  “However if this is approved, we expect the Army to ask for similar concessions in other areas that are still under investigation.”

The Settling Ponds are located along the installation’s southern boundary and were first used in 1941.   Altogether the site is comprised of Final Creek, four Settling Ponds, and five Spoils Disposal Areas, covering approximately 70 acres.  During active production years, these man-made ponds received sanitary and industrial wastewater from the entire facility and surface runoff from the Nitroglycerine, Rocket Paste, and Magazine storage areas, and ultimately discharged into Lake Wisconsin at Gruber’s Grove Bay.

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