DNR says Army's Badger Ammo cleanup is OK, activists disagree - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

DNR says Army's Badger Ammo cleanup is OK, activists disagree

Photo: Badger History Group Photo: Badger History Group

SAUK COUNTY (WKOW) -- Department of Natural Resources (DNR) officials have preliminarily determined that the U.S. Army's plans to cleanup contaminated soil at the former Badger Army Ammunition Plant is feasible and appropriate for the future use of the property.

The Army proposed to remove contaminated soil from a group of ponds, Final Creek and the spoils disposal area at Badger Ammo and dispose it in an approved landfill. The proposal also considers using a stabilization process to bind contaminants in place or leave things as they are without disturbing anything.

DNR experts analyzed the proposal by comparing anticipated contamination levels in the area with the intended future use of the property by workers and visitors. The DNR intends to convert much of the more than 7,000 acres of land into the Sauk Prairie Recreation Area, restoring the land to its natural habitats for wildlife and finding a way for the public to use the land for recreation.

According to the DNR, before production ended at Badger Ammo, water from the propellant manufacturing process was discharged to Final Creek. Contaminants in the discharged water settled in the creek bed and in four settling ponds. Soils excavated from the ponds during the years of plant operations were deposited in the spoils disposal area.

DNR Officials say the preliminary determination only applies to the Army's proposed strategy for cleanup. The department has authority to require additional work if deemed necessary to meet previously agreed upon remediation standards.

An activist group from the area cites their own review of the Army's proposal, saying the cleanup may not protect people or wildlife using the area in the future. Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB) released a statement saying an environmental scientist the group hired to review the study found the Army's proposals lacking. CSWAB's expert says the goals are insufficient for the particular explosives used at the site, and doesn't address the combined mixture of hazardous chemicals.

CSWAB recommends the Army should determine concentrations of contaminants in the soil and use an approach that is similar that used for groundwater in Wisconsin.

Click here to view CSWAB's report

Click here for the Army's proposal and the DNR's determination

The DNR and the U.S. Army will host a public open house on February 20th from 5 to 7 p.m.. at the River Arts Center on 9th Street in Prairie du Sac. Leaders will answer questions on the review process and the cleanup plan.

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