U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin and colleagues in the Senate introduced a bill that could hasten cleanup of toxic chemicals at Madison’s Truax Air National Guard base.
The bill, the PFAS Accountability Act, would encourage federal facilities such as military and National Guard bases to quickly enter into agreements with states to address the cleanup of toxic chemicals such as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
The federal government says PFAS compounds are associated with increased risk of slowed development in children, lower fertility, hormonal disruptions, high cholesterol, immune system deficiencies and several kinds of cancer.
The bill comes as a new study shows as many as 19 million people in 43 states have been exposed to PFAS-contaminated water near contaminated locations including public water systems, military bases, airports, industrial plants, dumps and firefighter training sites.
Last spring, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources warned Madison’s Truax Air National Guard base it could face enforcement action if it didn’t move swiftly to clean up toxic chemicals that were showing up in municipal drinking water.
The DNR in May of last year said it would work with Air National Guard staff to develop a timeline for cleanup of the chemicals.
Madison and Dane County likely share at least some responsibility with the military for two probable sources of pollutants — burn pits where toxic firefighting foam was sprayed on soil just outside the base — but local leaders agreed to wait for National Guard funding to materialize rather than paying for their own testing of those sites.
Baldwin, D-Madison, said in a statement the bill would help bring accountability to federal agencies for addressing contamination and reduce the burden on local governments for the cleanup effort.
The bill would spur federal facilities to commit to addressing contamination and would allow state and local governments to be reimbursed for costs incurred to address PFAS contamination.