WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ announcement today that high concentrations of chemicals containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) were detected in surface waters in Dane and Monroe Counties, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement:
“The dangerous levels of PFAS recently detected in Wisconsin surface waters are alarming and warrant serious action. PFAS chemicals pose a dangerous risk to public health and our environment, especially near Starkweather Creek in Madison and Silver Creek in Monroe County where the highest PFAS concentration levels were found.
“I met with residents and stakeholders affected by PFAS water contamination in Marinette earlier this month who are advocating for public and private action to address the dangerous contamination of their soil and water. Staff from both CDC and EPA were invited to my meeting in Marinette, but both agencies declined to attend. Now more than ever, they need to step up and invest in research on how PFAS chemicals harm human health and establish meaningful standards to help protect Wisconsinites from PFAS exposure. We must address this public health crisis now.
“I’ve been working at the federal level to provide resources for environmental testing for PFAS at sites with contamination challenges like Truax Field in Madison and others, establish enforceable standards for PFAS chemicals in drinking water across the nation and hold federal agencies accountable when they are the cause of groundwater contamination. I’m going to continue my work to protect public health and ensure Wisconsin has clean drinking water.”
The Wisconsin DNR today announced the first round of surface water sampling results collected through the agency’s Water Quality Program. Results show elevated levels of PFOS – one of the most widely used and studied PFAS chemicals – in Starkweather Creek in Madison and Silver Creek in Monroe County.
Senator Baldwin has been working to ensure Wisconsin has clean drinking water. She successfully secured provisions from her bipartisan PFAS Accountability Act in the bipartisan 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to hold federal agencies accountable for addressing PFAS contamination at military bases across the country when they caused the contamination. Baldwin’s bipartisan PFAS Detection Act was also included in NDAA to authorize funding for the U.S. Geological Survey to develop new advanced technologies to detect PFAS and then to conduct nationwide sampling for PFAS in the environment.
Senator Baldwin also worked to ensure that NDAA requires the Department of Defense to phase out the use of firefighting foam that contain PFAS chemicals by mid-2022. The use of PFAS in firefighting foam is believed to have contributed to PFAS water contamination at Truax Field.
In addition, Baldwin’s reforms in NDAA require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish an enforceable drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS in public water systems within two years and require that companies publicly disclose any releases of PFOA or PFOS through the EPA’s Toxics Release Inventory.
An online version of this release is available here.