“An underground plume of contamination from a firefighting training facility in Marinette has spread from the site and could be seeping into Lake Michigan’s Green Bay, a little more than a mile away.

The pollutants are the first in Wisconsin where a class of contaminants known as perfluorinated chemicals have been found in private wells, according to the state Department of Natural Resources.

The groundwater contamination prompted Tyco Fire Products, a unit of Johnson Controls International, to supply bottled water to about 100 homeowners in the Town of Peshtigo starting in December.

In a few cases, where levels of contaminants are higher, the company has installed carbon filtration systems.

The chemicals are among a group of pollutants that are seen as emerging health concerns and have been linked to illnesses ranging from some cancers to developmental problems in fetuses…

Perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA, and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid, or PFOS, have been used in products ranging from carpets and nonstick pans to industrial processes and fire control.

Tyco’s 380-acre fire technology center is used for testing, research and training where water-based foams are sprayed in firefighting exercises. The chemicals have been used since the 1960s, according to the company…

On Jan. 16, the DNR directed Tyco and Johnson Controls to submit plans to investigate the extent of contamination in the soil and groundwater and eventually clean it up.

Tyco and its consultant submitted documents this month on how it will determine the scope of the problem, and a DNR official said last week the agency is now reviewing those plans…

Lamont, 61, lives about 75 yards from Green Bay.

A retired hydrogeologist who managed the cleanup of contaminated industrial sites, Lamont said groundwater and surface water flow toward the shoreline.

‘It’s definitely [getting] out into the bay,’ Lamont said.

Marinette has a population of about 10,000 and gets water from Green Bay. The city’s public water system has not been affected. Neil Motto, who operates the system, said tests have shown no signs of the chemicals.

Since December, tests from 130 wells show 11 above the EPA’s health advisory of 70 parts per trillion and 26 where the chemical is present. There was no detection of the chemicals in 93 wells.”

Read the full article by Lee Bergquist.