Read the full article by Laura Schulte (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

“MADISON – A large plume of ‘forever chemicals’ found in the Bay of Green Bay has been traced back to Tyco Fire Products, a Marinette-based company known for mixing firefighting foam at its facility.

The study, conducted by UW-Madison department of civil and environmental engineering researcher Christy Remucal and postdoctoral co-investigator Sarah Balgooyen, was published in the Environmental Science & Technology journal in late December.

The two researchers sampled water along the shores of the Bay, Remucal said, where Tyco consultants had previously marked the PFAS plume as ending. In those samples, PFAS identical to those used at the Marinette facility were found at rates 10 times higher than the rest of Lake Michigan.

A previous study by the two researchers found that tributaries feeding into the Bay were contributing to the levels of PFAS found, but this study was able to use ‘fingerprinting’ to pinpoint where the compounds came from.

‘In this case, the PFAS fingerprint in Green Bay is nearly identical to PFAS associated with Tyco and includes PFAS known to be active ingredients in firefighting foams,’ the study says.

The fingerprinting method could be used to hold accountable manufacturers or other polluting companies responsible for contamination.

Tyco, a subsidiary of Johnson Controls, tested firefighting foam containing PFAS outdoors from 1962 until ending the practice in 2017. The foam ended up on the soil surrounding the company’s fire training center, as well as in the Marinette sewer system when the foam was washed into drains. 

Tyco, formerly known as the Ansul Company, was purchased by Johnson Controls in 2016. 

The contamination in Marinette and Peshtigo stems from the Tyco fire training site, where fires were set outdoors and then doused with foam. The foam contaminated the ground it came into contact and, eventually, the PFAS were carried across the area by the groundwater and the sanitary sewers it was washed into after testing.

Outdoor testing was halted in 2017, but PFAS have continued to be an issue, forcing hundreds of residents in the town of Peshtigo to rely on treatment systems to filter the water from their private wells, or bottled water for drinking and cooking.” …