It was a full house at the Marinette County Courthouse Tuesday morning, where dozens listened to representatives from the Wisconsin DNR, the scientific community, and Tyco Fire Protection Products about contaminated water in the nearby town of Peshtigo. Tyco, also known as Johnson Controls, a manufacturer of water-based fire suppression products, says after they detected groundwater contamination at their own facility, they subsequently found contamination at more than two dozen nearby homes.
“As rainwater infiltrated on the surface, it washed these compounds into the ditches, it washed them into the groundwater table, they migrated down gradient towards our wells, and contaminated the wells,” said Jeff Lamont, a homeowner who says contaminants are in the water on his land.
The contaminants are PFOAs and PFOSs. They came from fire suppressant foams used at Tyco. Consuming them can cause major health problems.
“Cancer, immune deficiency issues, problems getting pregnant and pregnancy issues, liver toxicity issues, high cholesterol issues,” Lamont said.
Tyco has responded by working with the DNR to put a plan together to remove the contamination.
Our number one priority, it really runs in parallel with that, is to make sure that the folks that we do find levels in, are getting safe drinking water,” said Jim Cox, Marketing Communications Manager for Tyco. “Obviously we’re in Wisconsin and it’s winter, so a lot of those investigations, additional boring and surface water testing, things like that, can’t really be done until the weather warms up and they’re able to do that test.”
But that might not be quick enough for some unhappy land owners.
“Go out there and dig up some of the contaminated soils now, or in the next 6 months, instead of studying this for 3 or 4 or 5 years until they do something,” Lamont said.