Evers Seeks Private Firm’s Aid on Pollution
Outside law firm would help state prosecute companies responsible for PFAS contamination.
Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday that his administration is seeking an outside law firm to help the state prosecute companies responsible for PFAS contamination in Wisconsin. The move is part of an effort to hold corporate polluters responsible under the state’s PFAS Action Plan, which was released in December.
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS, have raised concerns because they don’t break down easily in the environment. The chemicals are found in firefighting foam and everyday products. Studies have linked PFAS to thyroid disease, reproductive health issues and kidney and testicular cancers.
Working with Attorney General Josh Kaul, Evers has asked the Wisconsin Department of Administration to solicit bids from law firms, according to a release. The administration did not provide details on what company or companies would be the target of litigation.
States like Michigan, New Hampshire and Vermont have mounted legal challenges against companies responsible for PFAS contamination to secure compensation for residents impacted by pollution.
Wisconsin environmental regulators are monitoring more than 50 sites with PFAS contamination across the state, including in Superior, Marinette, Madison and Milwaukee. The sites include military installations, industrial areas and waterways.
The announcement comes a day after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources announced that surface water sampling confirmed traces of PFAS throughout Madison-area lakes and along the Yahara River. The agency began collecting samples after testing last year showed elevated levels of the chemicals in stormwater coming from the Dane County airport, which drains into Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona. The airport was the site of burn pits used for firefighter training.
The findings prompted a fish consumption advisory for those two waterbodies, and the agency is currently reviewing fish tissue samples for PFAS on the Yahara chain of lakes. The DNR also recently issued a fish consumption advisory for smelt on Lake Superior.
Tyco is the focus of the state’s largest, most complex investigation into PFAS contamination around its facility. Around 130 residents in the Peshtigo and Marinette area have been drinking bottled water since late 2017 after high levels of PFAS were found in private wells.
Peshtigo residents recently reached a $17.5 million settlement with Tyco over contamination stemming from the company’s use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam.
The DNR referred Tyco and parent company Johnson Controls to the Wisconsin Department of Justice in 2019 for failing to report any release of PFAS when it was first discovered in 2013. Company officials have said they believed contamination had been confined to the site of its facility.
Evers Administration Seeks Outside Firm To Prosecute PFAS Polluters was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
- Evers Budget Addresses ‘Forever Chemicals’ - Isiah Holmes - Feb 23rd, 2021
- DNR Launches PFAS External Advisory Group - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Feb 19th, 2021
- Evers Budget Has Green Goals - Danielle Kaeding - Feb 18th, 2021
- Evers Seeks Private Firm’s Aid on Pollution - Danielle Kaeding - Jan 24th, 2021
- Gov. Evers Announces State to Take Legal Action Against PFAS Contaminators - Gov. Tony Evers - Jan 22nd, 2021
- DNR Releases Latest Sampling Results Revealing Broader PFAS Presence In Madison Area Lakes And Yahara River Chain - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Jan 21st, 2021
- New Smelt Consumption Advisory for Lake Superior - Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Jan 15th, 2021
- Johnson Controls Settling PFAS Lawsuit for $17.5 Million - Erik Gunn - Jan 8th, 2021
- Fixed Earth Innovations wins Tech Challenge fall 2020 open innovation contest - The Water Council - Jan 5th, 2021
- GOP Lawmakers Strip Emergency PFAS Rule - Danielle Kaeding - Dec 18th, 2020
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