State officials outline plan to mitigate PFAS contaminations

Local News

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – State officials are detailing their plans to combat chemicals impacting several areas of Wisconsin. First News at Nine’s Alex Loroff has the latest updates on the statewide battle against PFAS.

Harmful chemicals are continuing to impact both the Coulee region and the state of Wisconsin.

PFAS are a group of chemicals used in cookware, fast food wrappers and other products.

The Wisconsin DHS says most people have some PFAS in their body due to their diet, but higher levels of exposure can result in adverse health effects.

Mimi Johnson with the Wisconsin DNR says multiple areas of the state are at a high exposure risk.

“There are approximately 35 PFAS-impacted sites in Wisconsin,” Johnson said. “These sites may be near military facilities, airports, manufacturing or landfills.”

One of the affected areas includes French Island and the Town of Campbell, where private well testing is underway.

The contamination is believed to have occurred from firefighting foam used at the La Crosse Regional Airport.

A lawsuit filed by the City of La Crosse against the makers of the foam is moving to federal court.

“We’ve sued the manufacturers of those harmful chemicals because they knew that they were harmful and yet they continued to produce them and sell them anyway,” La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat detailed.

The City has also requested the state’s assistance with the PFAS contamination on French Island due to how complicated the situation is.

“There’s the multijurisdictional aspect and the fact that you’ve got test results that aren’t explained by the airport,” Kabat added.

To address the statewide PFAS concerns, Gov. Evers is proposing annual grants to help local governments monitor drinking water.

“These grants will provide critical resources to help test private wells, provide temporary emergency water and work toward permanent safe drinking water solutions,” Johnson described.

The DNR says sampling of wells on French Island may take up to 90 days to complete.

In La Crosse, Alex Loroff, First News at Nine.

Congress has also proposed the “PFAS Action Act” which would designate PFAS as a hazardous substance and would establish national drinking water standards.

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