Laura Olah, Executive Director
Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB)
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is requiring the Army to analyze drinking water and groundwater at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant for contaminants resulting from the breakdown of explosives in the environment.
Toxicologists with the Department of Health Services recently issued Health Advisory Levels (HALs) that are the first federal or state drinking water guidelines in the U.S. for four (4) currently unregulated breakdown products of the explosive DNT.
The new HALs, requested by CSWAB in a formal petition in 2015, may now be used by state regulators as remediation goals for the protection of groundwater and drinking water resources.
“This sampling will help us determine whether these compounds are present and, if so, this effort will also help us evaluate the environmental fate and extent of the breakdown products in groundwater,” the WDNR May 23 letter says.
Of the four new HALs, the lowest is for 2,4-Diaminotoluene at 0.01 parts per billion (ppb) based on cancer risk. By comparison, Wisconsin’s drinking water standard for DNT is five times higher at 0.05 ppb, indicating that the degradation product (2,4-Diaminotoluene) is more toxic than the original parent compound (DNT).
The WDNR letter directs the Army to analyze between 20 to 30 water samples, from supply wells and monitoring wells, for the DNT breakdown products with new HALs.
“We expect (the Army) to collect samples from… areas where active degradation of DNT took place,…private wells where DNT has been detected in the past few years, private wells that are down-gradient from where DNT has been detected…(and) other monitoring wells where DNT has been detected in the past few years,” the WDNR wrote.
“We are very pleased with the prompt response by the WDNR,” said Laura Olah, Executive Director of CSWAB. “While the number of proposed samples is small given the size of the affected areas, it is big step in the right direction.”
The WDNR has asked the Army to submit a plan for the additional sampling within 30 days.