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AG Josh Kaul joins in PFAS listening session in Marinette

Northwoods Regional News

MARINETTE, Wis. (WFRV) — Residents of Marinette, Peshtigo, and surrounding communities are coming to terms with PFAS, in part thanks to several listening sessions hosted by the DNR over the past year.

“More and more people are starting to understand just what a serious problem this is in our community,” Doug Oitzinger, former Mayor of Marinette said.

At Wednesday’s listening session, Attorney General Josh Kaul listened in, along with DNR officials and representatives from Johnson Controls, formerly Tyco, the company responsible for PFAS contamination in the area.

AG Kaul’s involvement comes after the DNR referred Johnson Controls and Tyco to the Department of Justice.

“We alleged that they had failed to notify the state of the contamination out there and make good progress,” Darsi Foss, Director of the Environmental Management Division at the DNR explained.

The company says they have taken steps to remedy the situation by providing bottled water to residents with impacted wells and creating two surface water treatment systems.

They’ve also floated the idea of a municipal waterline between Marinette and Peshtigo that would serve impacted residences.

“That waterline would be a municipal waterline to deliver clean, safe, and reliable drinking water by the end of 2020,” John Perkins, VP of Environmental Health & Safety at Johnson Controls said.

Concerned residents say that is not enough.

“That’s an important part of this,” Oitzinger said of the waterline plan, “because there are so many wells in the Town of Peshtigo that are contaminated, but that’s not the only problem.”

Foss said that there is no clear path to clearing up the PFAS problem in the area because of the scope of contamination.

“It’s kind of an unusual situation because it’s many sites, so we’ve got the fire technology center, we’ve got the manufacturing facilities at 1 and 2 Stanton Street, we have concerns about the bio-spreading solid field,” she listed.

Johnson Controls officials say they plan to continue to take action.

“Number one priority is to ensure that there is clean, safe, and reliable drinking water for the residents affected,” Perkins said.

Some impacted residents say the damage has already been done.

“These are forever chemicals,” Oitzinger said. “They don’t just go away.”

To learn more about services available to those impacted by PFAS contamination, click here.

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