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PFAS plume found in Lake Michigan

By Lydia Andersen

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    MICHIGAN (WLUK) — A new study states that toxic PFAS chemicals have been found in Lake Michigan’s Green Bay.

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers say they’ve detected a plume of PFAS and traced it to a manufacturing plant that makes firefighting foam.

Originally found in groundwater near Peshtigo and Marinette, University of Wisconsin researchers say PFAS are now in the waters of Green Bay.

“The transect that we sampled was four kilometers, so a few miles, wide but then how far it spreads out and how long it goes into the bay, we don’t know right now,” says Associate Professor Christy Remucal.

Remucal and other researchers traced PFAS from the bay to Tyco’s Fire Product Plant in Marinette.

“In this case, that sort of fingerprint or that distribution of different PFAS that we found in Green Bay was basically identical to what we found in ditches that are draining Tyco; they’re so similar there is really no question,” says Remucal.

Tyco provided FOX 11 a statement regarding the findings.

Tyco welcomes continued science and research on PFAS, which is one of the reasons we have been so proud to be open and transparent with the data related to our extensive work in Marinette, Wisconsin. We have not had the opportunity to review this work but will look forward to the opportunity to do so. What we can say is that Tyco has stepped up and taken responsibility, investing tens of millions of dollars to address the PFAS from our historic operations at our Fire Technology Center in Marinette. We have built an expansive groundwater treatment system that is already achieving thorough PFAS removal in the water treated; we have excavated soils with aggregated PFAS; and we’ve worked in partnership with neighbors to accelerate the delivery to them of their preferred long-term drinking water solutions. Our work has been overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at every stage, and Tyco has shared all workplans, data and the results we have achieved with the public. PFAS is a problem across the country, and it is clear that Tyco’s cleanup efforts are the most comprehensive and advanced in Wisconsin while many other known sources are yet to be addressed. Cindy Boyle is the Chairperson for the Town of Peshtigo. She and others are frustrated with the PFAS contamination.

“Not surprisingly, I think that’s very alarming, very concerning, not surprising,” says Boyle.

Boyle says she would like to see a solution for all residents affected.

“When myself and my neighbors are still waiting for a permanent safe drinking water source, it’s tough to give a lot of credence to those sorts of statements,” says Boyle.

“It’s a big lake. The PFAS concentrations are definitely lower, about 10 times lower if you go to other locations in Green Bay because of dilution, but it’s concerning to know this plume is hitting Lake Michigan,” says Remucal.

Remucal says she is interested in surveying more areas in Northeast Wisconsin.

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