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Contaminated Badger Ammo Plant soil to be removed, DNR says

Contaminated Badger Ammo Plant soil to be removed, DNR says

This a 2005 file photo of the Badger Army Ammunition Plant near Baraboo.

Contaminated soil at the closed Badger Army Ammunition Plant will be excavated and taken to an approved landfill, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Hundreds of buildings at the 7,000-acre plant, along Highway 12 between Baraboo and Prairie du Sac, have been razed and removed, but the contaminated soil remains at the site.

The soils are in Final Creek, settling ponds and the spoils disposal areas, the DNR said in a news release on Tuesday.

The U.S. Army, owner of the plant until it's turned over to the DNR, gave three different alternatives to the DNR for dealing with the contaminated soil, including applying a binder, doing nothing or excavation.

"We are confident that excavating and landfilling the contaminated soils is the best choice of the Army's cleanup proposals for these areas," Woody Myers, DNR Bureau of Remediation and Redevelopment team leader, said in the news release. "Keeping in mind the future use of the site as the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, this cleanup is protective of human health for even the most sensitive populations."

On June 26, a public open house is scheduled at 6 p.m. at the Ruth Culver Library, 540 Water St., Prairie du Sac, where the public can learn more about the DNR decision and have questions answered.

The final determination documents also can be seen on the DNR website; at the Ruth Culver Library; the Sauk City Public Library, 515 Water St., Sauk City; the Ammo Plant; and at the DNR offices at 3911 Fish Hatchery Road in Fitchburg.

In February, the DNR asked the public to comment about the excavation of contaminated soils, since that was the favorable alternative in the preliminary investigation.

Some residents were concerned about wild game harvested from the area containing unhealthy levels of contaminants, so the DNR asked the Department of Health Services to study it.

"Conservative risk estimates indicate regular consumption of deer or other wild animals from the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant site is not expected to pose a human health hazard for any of the residual soil contaminants, at low, moderate or even high rates of ingestion," said DHS toxicologist Ryan Wozniak in the news release.

The public open house will also address any human health questions.

"We are taking the extra step of holding this open house because of the widespread interest and the long history of public involvement in the Badger cleanup effort," said DNR regional director Mark Aquino.

The plant was built in 1942 to make propellants during World War II, and continued to be used during the Korean War and Vietnam War.

When it was built, it was the largest ammunition plant in the world. A total of 23,000 workers worked at the plant during 60 years of operation.

After the plant was decommissioned, it took years before a reuse and remediation plan was developed.

Most of the acreage will be under DNR control for use as a recreation area, but 2,000 acres is dedicated to the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center.

Another 165 acres went to the town of Sumpter Bluffview Sanitary District, three cemetery sites went to the town and 60 acres went to the Department of Transportation for highway work along Highway 78.

The DNR will be asking the public for input at a later date on plans for the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area.



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