Even with municipal water in place, every single farm, business and home near Badger Army Ammunition Plant with underlying groundwater problems will be listed on Wisconsin’s permanent GIS Registry for Soil and Groundwater Contamination.
The February 13 preliminary determination letter from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is clear and stipulates: “For the Groundwater Registry, all properties with groundwater exceeding one or more of the ch. NR 140, Wis. Adm. Code, enforcement standards originating at the facility will be listed.”
In addition to listing on this permanent registry, farms, businesses and rural homes near Badger will have land use restrictions included on property deeds, the WDNR said.
Why? As part of the offer for municipal water, the Army plans to abandon all active cleanup of groundwater and contaminant source areas inside the plant. Once no one is using the groundwater, the Army maintains that cleanup will no longer be necessary – and the State is buying it. Once approved, residual contamination will continue to flow under farm fields, new development north of the Village of Prairie du Sac, and rural neighborhoods for decades to come.
If approved, nearby farmers and residents are going to be hit twice – first with a huge water bill and again when property values are permanently compromised.
One of the reasons that affected properties will be listed on the State’s contaminated site registry is because residual groundwater contamination poses a potential risk to human health. In an Army update published last week, Badger officials announced that they will be conducting a “vapor intrusion” investigation of volatile contaminants that could be moving from groundwater into overlying structures. Volatile chemicals can emit vapors that may migrate through subsurface soils and into indoor air spaces of overlying buildings, similar to how radon gas seeps into homes.
There is still one way to avoid this train wreck – talk to your local town and village government representatives NOW. Call them, write to them, and go to public meetings. The Army’s plan will only work if local municipalities agree.
While municipal water is one solution to clean drinking water, we believe that the Army still has a responsibility to comply with groundwater quality standards. Continued active cleanup is necessary both to protect human health and property value, and to restore groundwater resources that sustain our wetlands, springs, fisheries and surface water.
Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)