Marinette County Board Backs PFAS LegislationIssue Date: November 14, 2019
By 28 to 1 vote on Tuesday, Nov. 12, Marinette County Board approved a resolution calling on the state legislature to adopt legislation aimed at getting the DNR to move quickly to establish and enforce various standards to regulate PFAS compounds in area water and wastewater.
The vote came after the board heard passionate addresses from 12 speakers during time for public comment at the start of the meeting, and included a change in the original resolution, which had been in support of SB 302, a bill introduced by Sen. Dave Hansen and other Democrat legislators, to include other proposed legislation - AB 321 (introduced by Rep. John Nygren (a Republican) as well as SB310 and AB323. SB 302 - referred to as the "clean" act - was reportedly put together by Sen. Hansen and his staff with input from a Town of Peshtigo Citizens committee concerned with the PFAS contamination found in ground and surface waters in the Town of Peshtigo and in sludge from Marinette and Peshtigo wastewater treatment plants that has been spread on local farm fields.
Speakers in support of the legislation were Andi Rich, Cindy Boyle, Bill Verschay, Stan Gruszynski, Kayla Furton, Jessica Clochesy, Connie Hass, Joe Donovan, Jeff LaMont, Betsy Jaeger, retired professor Wendel Johnson and former Marinette Mayor Doug Oitzinger .
Meanwhile, in Green Bay, Madison and Eau Claire public hearings on the PFAS issues were in progress via simulcast. Currently Wisconsin has no existing PFAS standards for various exposure modes, and the EPA has no firm regulations. There have been concerns expressed by some that some of the proposed legislation sets aside for public hearings and need for scientific -based evidence before the DNR can put regulations in place and enforce them.
PFAS compounds in the Marinette/Peshtigo area are believed to have mainly come from tests of fire extinguisher foams produced by Tyco (Johnson Controls) in Marinette.
PFAS are man-made chemicals used in industrial and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s such as: non-stick cookware, water- repellent clothing, stain resistant fabrics and carpets, some cosmetics, some firefighting foams, and products that resist grease, water, and oil.
The resolution supported by Marinette County Board states that research suggests high levels of certain PFAS impact human health in various ways including: increasing cholesterol levels, decreasing how well the body responds to vaccines, increase the risk of thyroid disease, decrease fertility in women; state that levels exceeding the Health Advisory Limit, are known to exist in southeastern Marinette County surface and groundwater; are known to be in materials land spread on fields in parts of Marinette County; and people can consume PFAS by drinking contaminated water, eating fish caught from PFAS contaminated water, or accidentally ingesting contaminated soil or dust.
Johnson Controls has been supplying bottled drinking water and/or filtration systems for Town of Peshtigo residents whose private wells have been found to contain high levels of PFAS.
The resolution adopted by County Board states that the county supports action on bi-partisan work led by Senator Dave Hansen and Representative John Nygren to reach passage of SB 302/AB 321 and SB 320/AB 323 requiring the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to establish and enforce various standards for PFAS.
Supervisor Bonnie Popp, who cast the sole vote against the resolution, had stated at the Administrative Committee meeting and again at the County Board meeting, that she considers this a bi-partisan issue and feels County Board, as a non-partisan body,has no business getting involved.
In other business at its meeting on Tuesday, County Board accepted the resignation of Supervisor David Zahn from his post representing parts of the Town of Grover, and approved decision of County Board Chair Mark Anderson to not fill the position at this time. All 30 County Board seats will be up for election in April, and nomination papers by anyone interested in serving on County Board can be circulated starting on Sunday, Dec. 1. Supervisor Tom Mandli, whose district also includes parts of Grover, invited anyone living in Zahn's former district to contact him if they have issues requiring County Board representation.
A bit later in the meeting the board unanimously accepted an Administrative committee recommendation to keep pay and expense reimbursement for County Supervisors unchanged for the new terms that will begin in April of 2020.
There was discussion on the Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission study on format for future Economic Development and Tourist promotion and a presentation by Economic Development Planner Sydney Swan. Chief recommendation in the study again this time around was for the county to contract with inVenture North (successor to MCABI) but no action was taken other than referral back to the Development Committee for a closer look at the study results.
The board approved an ordinance change by which County Highway L beginning at Cliff Lane and ending at Peterson Road in the Town of Beecher is added to the list of county roads on which ATV/UTV vehicles can be operated during daylight hours.
The board approved County Administrator John LeFebvre's recommendation to appoint Dean Schoen to the Veterans Service Commission for a term expiring in November of 2022.
After being assured that reclamation agreements are in place the board approved a zoning change recommended by the Town of Pound to rezone a property from residential to be added to the quarry (non-metallic mine) near the junction of Hwy. 141 and Hwy. 64 in Pound.
The next County Board meeting is set for 9 a.m. on Tuesday,Dec. 17.
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