THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
Peshtigo Wastewater May Contain PFOS/PFOA, Drinking Water Is Safe
Issue Date: May 2, 2019
In a conversation with the Peshtigo Times on Wednesday, May 5, Mayor Cathi Malke confirmed that the city is investigating the possibility of problems that may arise from PFOS and PFOA compounds in the city's wastewater treatment system.
Meanwhile, she assured residents that the city has performed testing of its municipal water system as a precautionary measure and the tests confirmed that the city's drinking water is safe.
PFOS and PFOA compounds, otherwise referred to as perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), were used in firefighting products manufactured in Marinette by Tyco Fire Products. Testing of the firefighting foam on a site in the City of Marinette resulted in contamination of ground and surface waters that migrated to locations in the Town of Peshtigo, and possibly to the waters of Green Bay and beyond.
A news release issued by the city on Tuesday, April 30 states that Tyco has operated a testing laboratory at a leased facility owned by BPM, Inc. at 110 Pine Street in Peshtigo periodically since 2010. As a result of products tested at that facility, it is believed that wastewater discharged from the site contained PFOS and PFOA compounds and were discharged into the city's sanitary sewer system.
City officials have received guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in regard to the city's ability to set limits for PFOA and PFOS discharges into the wastewater, the release states, and adds, "Unfortunately, no Federal standards or Wisconsin state standards have been set for such discharges.
The news release goes on to say that despite the lack of standards, the city on March 15 proposed to Tyco that pretreatment of wastewater from their facility would have to achieve waste water characteristics equivalent to safe drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS compounds. "On March 19, 2019 Tyco voluntarily agreed to cease any further discharge into the city's sewer system at the request of city officials."
According to the news release, the city has been in correspondence with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in regard to sampling and testing methods for wastewater sludge. The wastewater sludge stored at Peshtigo's wastewater treatment plant will be tested for PFOS and PFOA compounds. Test samples will be analyzed by a laboratory in California. It may be up to 30 days before results are received, according to the news release. Malke said sample results from the testing will be published on the city's web site as soon as they are available and will also be available upon request at the City Hall.
The news release goes on to state that testing of drinking water for PFOS and PFOA were performed asa precautionary measure on municipal wells 2, 3 and 4. "All test results on the raw water were within the safe drinking water standards for PFOS and PFOA compounds as established by the Federal Environmental Protection Agency for municipal drinking water. Results of the testing have been transmitted to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and have been posted on the city's web site and will also be made available at City Hall upon request."