An independent review of the U.S. Army’s cleanup efforts at the former Badger Army Ammunitions Plant in Prairie du Sac is currently underway.
The announcement was made during a public information meeting hosted by the Army May 16 at the Sauk City Public Library. Joan Jackson, a representative of the Army, called the United States Geological Survey “our nationwide experts in groundwater” and said the Army has provided the USGS with all data pertaining to the former ammunition plant site.
In November, groundwater results for the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant area showed although slowly decreasing, unsafe levels of dinitrotoluene continue to be detected in the northeast corner of the former ammunition site in the town of Merrimac.
In September 2017, levels of DNT were detected as high as 3.365 parts per billion – 67 times higher than the health-based standard of 0.05 parts per billion. DNT exposure has been linked with an increased risk for cancer and other illnesses.
In an effort to check their work, Jackson said the USGS is working on developing a groundwater model for Badger.
“(USGS will be reviewing) and looking at all the decisions that have been made with groundwater to date,” Jackson said. “They are going to be looking at everybody’s wells in the sampling program, provide recommendations back to us on (if) we made the right decision every step along the way, or do we need to sample more frequently than what we are and do we have data gaps that show maybe we need additional wells put in.”
Jackson said the objective is to be able to provide residents impacted by groundwater contamination from the former ammunitions plant with an interactive map showing detailed data collected over time.
Jackson said the USGS will present its findings at a future public information meeting.
“We do wish to get a secondary look at our data, completely independent of the DOD (Department of Defense), so hopefully they’ll be able to give us some good feedback,” she said. “They are top level. They are top-notch and have offices here in Wisconsin. We think that’s hopefully a good news story to you.”
In addition to the USGS review, Jackson said she did have updates on what the Army is working on.
“We have just awarded additional contract action and are going to be doing sampling in Gruber’s Grove Bay to the areas we know are contaminated,” Jackson said. “We’re working with WDNR (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) to identify some of the current technologies used on other projects in Wisconsin (for studying groundwater sediment).”
She said they expect to conduct sampling in mid-June, and likely wouldn’t have a fully-developed list of options available until the fall.
“I want to assure you, we are looking at what we have left and what we still need to do based on the last letter we got from the WDNR,” Jackson said.
Jackson said they will hold another meeting in July to share information on risk assessment, remedial investigation and feasibility study. In the meantime, they are placing the most current information on a website for Badger updates.
The Army is also undergoing a five-year-review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which will look at the well caps and covers and the abandoned sewer network in and around Badger.
Michael Kelly, restoration branch chief from the U.S. Army Assistant Chief of Staff for Installation Management, said the Army’s five year review is a cleanup process.
“So when we have a remedy in place, it’s to ensure that remedy continues to be protective,” he said. “Remedial investigation helps you frame the problem you are trying to solve and the feasibility study tells you what you have to do — what are your options to fix that problem. Then that leads to the decision document, which will state, based on our analysis, this is what we are recommending for the site.”
Kelly said the other objective for the meeting is to find ways it can improve its communication with the public.