Activists say Badger Ammo cleanup job leaves questions - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Activists say Badger Ammo cleanup job leaves too much to question


PRAIRIE DU SAC (WKOW) – One group's definition of "clean" is not necessarily the same as another's.

That much was true Wednesday evening when the Badger Army Ammunition Plant held an open house to discuss the cleanup and conversion of the former industrial area to a recreation area.

A section called the Settling Ponds has some activists concerned about soil contamination. The area, located on the southern boundary, used to take in wastewater from the munitions facility.

"One of the main concerns is the level of cleanup the army has done. To us, this is ridiculous. The idea of opening up a public property for recreation and trusting site visitors and families would not disturb any of the vegetation and there wouldn't be this incidental exposure, "said Laura Olah, executive director of the Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger (CSWAB).

Olah's advocacy group hired former Badger Ammo researcher Peter deFur to review the Army's plans for soil remediation. He found that the levels of lead proposed were "inappropriate based on information used by both the Centers for Disease Control and Environmental Protection Agency," deFur wrote in the review for CSWAB.

The Army canceled deFur's contract in 2010 because they said his work was "not objective," according to the Associated Press.

"It's not contaminated," said Joan Kenney, commander's representative for the Badger Army Ammunition Plant.

Kenney explained that the army has already excavated the soil and moved it to a landfill.  

However, Olah still questioned the Army's commitment to removing all the contaminants necessary to protect people's health.

The Department of Natural Resources came to the Army's defense, describing the cleanup as "very good," and consistent with the procedures used in other parts of Wisconsin.

The Army is committed to meeting standards, but can't clean up everything, according to Kenney.

"Some people believe we shouldn't leave anything behind, but all we can do is what the state and federal requirements are. We can't make it better than what the requirements are," Kenney said. "That's not a responsible use of our tax dollars."

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