U.S. Army Corps Study Targets Merrimac Groundwater

by Free Speech on April 15, 2009

Lodi, WI~

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

Lodi, WI-4/14/09

A new technical review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has found that concentrations of the explosive DNT may be increasing in groundwater in the rural town of Merrimac.  Residential areas that may be in the path of contamination originating from Badger Army Ammunition Plant are the Inspiration Drive Area and the Weigand’s Bay Area, the January 2009 report says.  So far, the Army has not found unsafe levels of DNT in private wells that it has tested.

“Residential areas near the Wisconsin River may potentially be affected by DNT migration from the Deterrent Burning Ground in the future,” the report says.  “Results indicate concentrations of some DNT isomers have shown slight increases in the last several years.  The Wisconsin Enforcement Standard and Preventive Action Limit have been exceeded for 2,4-DNT and 2,6-DNT.”

Authors of the report, who included an environmental engineer, several chemists, and a geologist, said that environmental safeguards should be improved.  “Groundwater monitoring is insufficient to delineate groundwater vertical and horizontal contamination pathways in the aquifer,” they said.  “Sentry wells should be installed in areas where the public may be impacted by contaminants.”

The Deterrent Burning Ground is a closed hazardous waste disposal site located in the northeast corner of Badger.  It was used as a demolition landfill and for open burning of deterrent, asphalt shingles, building timbers, and office wastes.  Deterrent is an organic liquid containing dibutyl phthalate and DNT that is used to modify the burning characteristics of nitrocellulose-based propellants.  The EPA has classified DNT as a probable human carcinogen.

The Army Corps study was conducted in part to fulfill a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) requirement for a Five Year Review to determine if the cleanup remedy is protective of human health and the environment.  In 2002, the WDNR approved the installation of an Enhanced Biodegradation System (EBS) and a 7-acre landfill cap.  The cap system was installed to prevent infiltration of rain and melting snow which could carry contaminants to groundwater.  The EBS was designed to promote the degradation of residual DNT left in subsurface soils.

“Monitoring of the EBS needs to be improved to verify effectiveness and protectiveness of the groundwater,” the report says.  “There is no current method to determine if operation of the EBS is potentially affecting groundwater contamination and migration.”  If the current EBS is found not to be effective, the report lists a number of alternative cleanup methods.

In response to growing concerns about groundwater quality at the northeast corner of Badger, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) requested a meeting with WDNR, EPA and local Army officials but the WDNR project manager turned the group down, saying such a meeting was “premature.”  The group wants the WDNR, as the lead regulatory agency on cleanup, to set an enforceable timeline for implementation of the report’s recommendations and to expand required testing of nearby private wells while pending investigations are underway.

“The report reinforces everything that the community has been saying for a very long time,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB and resident of the Weigand’s Bay neighborhood. “I only hope that it’s not too late.”

Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
E12629 Weigand’s Bay South
Merrimac, WI  53561
(608) 643-3124

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kyle December 28, 2011 at 1:27 AM

Agreed Nancy. A very informative, interesting article. However, I am a resident of the inspiration drive area and more so than being solely informative, it was very alarming and raised a great deal of concern. As a resident of this area, I feel appalled and frightened that not every reasonable effort is being made to insure a satisfactory quality of health to myself, my family and neighbors. As a US tax paying, law abiding citizen, I feel my family and I are entitled to our most basic necessity of life, that being health. I feel let down by this ongoing process that is taking far too long to fix and am concerned that the United States Army is unable to resolve this matter, a matter and messy problem in which which they created in 1941, in a way that reaches everyone’s mutual satisfaction in a reasonable amount of time. I personally will not be satisfied until there are no traces of this probable carcinogen, DNT, in my family’s drinking water. One thing I find to be rather concerning is that most every quote in this article was deluded to make this problem of water contamination sound like not so big of a problem when there is another quote from the report that clearly quotes that the problem is worsening. What is most frustrating though is that the report quotes ways to eliminate this problem, yet the problem is worsening and there is clearly not enough being done to eliminate it. I hope the WDNR, the EPA and other local army officials will take this complaint in the helpful spirits in which it is meant, for I am not only making a complaint in respects to mine and others health in these areas, but I am also appealing to you for help for the health and safety of the two designated area’s citizens and surrounding environments! Anything that can be done to speed matters up, and resolve this problem will be greatly appreciated!
A message from myself and other concerned citizens,

2 Nancy April 20, 2009 at 1:16 PM

A very interesting article and thank you for bringing it to our attention. The environemntal effects of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant appear to go beyond the chain link fence surrounding the property.

3 Alice April 16, 2009 at 5:27 PM

Thank you for publishing the article on this important issue.
Badger pollution has gone on far too long. We need clean water,
not just for us, but for future generations. I am a “too-close-
for-comfort” neighbor.

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