Read the full article by Baylor Spears (Wisconsin Examiner)
“A Republican-led committee appeared open to dedicating more resources this budget cycle towards addressing PFAS contamination in Wisconsin during a hearing on Tuesday.
The informational hearing about PFAS — or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — comes about a month after University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers determined there were PFAS in Green Bay and a week after Gov. Tony Evers announced he will include $100 million towards PFAS research and mitigation efforts in his upcoming budget proposal.
Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) said the purpose of Tuesday’s hearing was to educate lawmakers about the status of PFAS in Wisconsin, providing a baseline understanding as they work towards exploring and funding potential solutions.
‘We’ve learned more and more and more and finding out that it’s out in the bay, that’s going to wake up a lot of people,’ Cowles told reporters. ‘There’s a lot of fishermen that aren’t too thrilled right now.’…
…’I hope, certainly, they will prioritize these issues.’ Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Somers) said during the hearing.
The GOP-led Senate Natural Resources and Energy Committee heard testimony from a variety of stakeholders including a UW-Madison researcher, a Department of Natural Resources official, representatives from one business responsible for collecting PFAS throughout Wisconsin and municipal representatives.
Christy Remucal, a lead researcher on the UW-Madison study, told lawmakers that there are many challenges when it comes to removing PFAS from the environment once they’re there and a better strategy would be to prevent them from entering the environment to begin with. She said there is a process for filtering chemicals from water, however once the chemicals are on a filter it is difficult to dispose of them.
‘What to do when these chemicals are in the lake? I mean the genie is out of the bottle, I would say, at that point. What we really need to do is prevent them from getting into the environment in the first place,’ Remucal said.
One of the biggest sources of PFAS pollution, Remucal said, is firefighting foam.
While Wisconsin lawmakers have been slow to pass PFAS-related legislation, one state law passed during the most recent budget cycle prohibits PFAS-containing firefighting foam except during emergency firefighting operations or during testing at a facility with measures in place to prevent discharge of the foam to the environment and sewer.
The DNR has been working to remove PFAS-containing firefighting foams across the state.
David Johnson, executive vice president of North Shore Environmental Construction, told the committee about the company’s work collecting firefighting foam for the DNR over the last six months. Johnson said some fire departments like Madison have switched over to PFAS-free foam, while others are a bit more resistant due to the cost of replacing the foam.”…