Environment

EPA: 'Forever chemicals' pose risk even at very low levels

The Environmental Protection Agency is warning that two nonstick and stain-resistant compounds in drinking water pose health risks at levels so low they cannot currently be detected. Most uses of “forever chemicals” known as PFOA and PFOS have been voluntarily phased out by U.S. manufacturers. But there are some ongoing uses. The EPA on Wednesday issued nonbinding health advisories setting health risk thresholds for PFOA and PFOS to near zero. Environmental and public health groups hail the EPA’s action. The chemicals are in products including cardboard packaging and carpets. The chemicals remain in the environment because they don't degrade. Serious health conditions associated with the chemicals include cancer.

When a tree falls in a neighborhood, where does it go?

MADISON, Wis. -- When a tree falls in a residential neighborhood, it definitely makes a sound, but what happens to it after? Officials with Madison's Streets Division say it gets turned into mulch. Twigs, branches and entire trees littered Madison's…

Wisconsin Republicans allow PFAS standards to take effect

Wisconsin Republicans are going to allow regulations Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' administration developed to control PFAS pollution to take effect. The state Department of Natural Resources' policy board adopted limits on PFAS in Wisconsin drinking and surface water in February. The regulations limit PFAS chemicals in drinking water to 70 parts per trillion and 8 ppt for most surface waters that support fish. Board approval sent the regulations to the Legislature's Republican-controlled Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. Mike Mikalsen, an aide to the panel's co-chairman, Sen. Steve Nass, said Monday that the committee has finished studying the rules and has no objections.

Wisconsin judge leaves PFAS regulation ruling on hold

A Wisconsin judge has agreed to keep on hold his ruling from April that prevented state regulators from requiring businesses and others responsible for pollution by PFAS chemicals to investigate and clean up the contamination. Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Bohren said Tuesday that because of the importance and broad impact of his ruling, it made sense to keep it on hold while the state Department of Natural Resources appeals. Bohren said keeping his ruling on hold “protects everyone’s interests.” In April, Bohren ruled that state regulators must go through Wisconsin’s rule-making process to establish guidelines for dealing with the PFAS toxins known as forever chemicals.

Wisconsin lawmakers sign off on 9 pollution settlements

Wisconsin lawmakers have signed off on $378,000 in settlements of nine pollution lawsuits. The settlement payments to the state approved Tuesday by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee range from $5,000 to $160,000 and involve lawsuits against cities, small and large farms, a dairy farm and others. State law requires the Republican-controlled committee to approve any settlements entered into by the attorney general’s office. The largest settlement approved was for $160,000 to be paid by United Liquid Waste Recycling Inc. It was accused of failing to report two waste spills, spreading waste in prohibited areas and failing to file timely reports and maintain proper records.

Marshfield, Adams shut down wells due to PFAS pollution

Marshfield and Adams have joined the list of Wisconsin cities that have shut down municipal wells due to PFAS contamination. Wisconsin Public Radio reports that the state Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday that sampling in the two cities has detected PFAS levels high enough to concern state health officials. Marshfield shut down four of 15 wells after receiving results Tuesday. Adams shut down one of two wells with elevated PFAS levels after receiving results May 4. Communities including La Crosse, Eau Claire and Madison have also shut down wells due to PFAS contamination. The DNR is investigating PFAS contamination at nearly 100 sites across the state.

DNR seeks public comment on project to improve Prairie du Chien drinking water

(City of Prairie du Chien webpage)MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment on whether a Prairie du Chien project to improve the city’s drinking water needs an environmental review. City officials applied for funding through the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program for a project that includes replacing lead service lines throughout the city….

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers unveils water level outlook for Great Lakes

DETROIT, Mich. (WKBT) — U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hydraulics and Hydrology officials predicted Tuesday that Great Lakes water levels will continue their seasonal rise. “Lake Superior’s water level in April was about an inch below its long-term average,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, head of the Detroit District Watershed Hydrology Section. “Looking at the forecast for the next six months, Superior’s…

Dane County sues foam makers over PFAS pollution

 Dane County officials are suing dozens of firefighting foam manufacturers alleging their products contaminated the area around the county’ airport. The Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday that the county filed the lawsuit in state court last week. The county is seeking unspecified damages from dozens of companies, including DuPont, 3M and Johnson Controls. The county alleges the manufacturers sold foam for decades despite knowing it contained PFAS and failed to warn consumers and the public of the chemicals' dangers. The city of La Crosse filed a similar lawsuit last year. The state Department of Justice sued Johnson Controls in March over PFAS contamination near Marinette.

Mining company seeks permit in Marathon County

A mining company wants permission to explore for gold and other minerals in Marathon County. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Friday that Green Light Metals submitted an exploratory drilling application to the county on Thursday. The company wants to explore in Eau Claire River County Park. The company received a state permit in February that's good through June 30. The site likely would become an open-pit mine if Green Light decides to launch a full-scale operation there. Mining at the site could become the first such activity in Wisconsin after legislators overturned a moratorium in 2017.