Question: What are the latest results you’ve obtained from your private well drinking water testing?
Answer: As of April 2, 2018, 137 wells in the area have been tested and we have validated results back from all of them. 97 wells returned results of “Non-Detect,” meaning neither of these compounds were detected in that well’s drinking water. 29 wells returned a detection for PFOA and/or PFOS, but these detections were below the U.S. EPA’s Health Advisory Level (HAL) of 70 parts per trillion. 11 wells have returned results above the HAL.
Question: And what are you doing for these properties that have detections of PFOA or PFOS?
Answer: First, for every well that has been sampled, no matter what the results have been, the owners or residents of that home have been offered bottled water. Second, for the 11 wells with results over the HAL, we have offered to pay for, install, and monitor localized home carbon filtration systems that are proven to remove both of these compounds from drinking water. These are called Point of Entry Water Treatment system – or a “POET” system, and are described below.
Question: What is the current status of your work?
Answer: On March 8, 2018 we submitted two draft work plans to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR): a Site Investigation Work Plan and a Long Term Potable Well Monitoring Plan. The proposed Site Investigation Work Plan describes the further investigation of groundwater, soil, storm water and ditch sampling in the area. The Long Term Potable Well Monitoring Plan lays out a schedule to re-sample all potable (drinking water) wells that we’ve tested in the area. We’ve received initial feedback to these plans from the DNR and are meeting with them to address their questions and recommendations. As soon as that is completed, the plans will be updated, and the work will begin almost immediately.
The DNR has posted copies of these Work Plans to their BRRTS on the Web website here:
You can enter the following activity number which will take you to the relevant documents:
Question: Will you wait then to retest the drinking water wells you tested before?
Answer: No, we are not waiting. In fact, re-testing began on April 2, 2018.
Question: Is it true you first saw readings for PFOS and PFOA as far back as 2013 and 2014?
Answer: Yes, testing that we were doing on our fire training property in 2013 and 2014 returned readings that indicated that PFOS and PFOA were present in the soil and groundwater. However, at the time we did not have data showing movement of the compounds offsite. It wasn’t until 2016 that we had data that showed we had concentrations of these compounds at the edge of the property, so we then began the series of tests which led us to where we are today.
Question: What about wells that have these compounds, but are below the EPAs health advisory of 70 parts per trillion – don’t other states have lower levels that require action?
We recognize that other states may have different levels, but we’re working under the direction of and closely with the Wisconsin DNR and DHS. The state of Wisconsin doesn’t have its own standard yet, and similar to several other state’s approaches, and in accordance with DNR and DHS guidance, we are following the U.S. EPA health advisory level which is set at 70 parts per trillion. If advisory levels get promulgated or changed, we will act accordingly in cooperation with the DNR and DHS.
In November 2016, the US government issued a PFOA & PFOS Drinking Water Health Advisory. See attached link for further information by the EPA. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2016-06/documents/drinkingwaterhealthadvisories_pfoa_pfos_updated_5.31.16.pdf)
Question: What about the ditch running South from your property; wouldn’t that ditch carry these chemicals much farther and faster than groundwater would?
Answer: The ditch may be a factor in the movement of these compounds, but we have more investigating to do to better understand that matter. We have found some positive readings near the ditch, but we’ve also found Non Detect readings at various points near the ditch as well. As soon as the ice melts and we can better test the soil and water moving through the ditch, we will be better able to understand the ditch as a conveyance mechanism. This work is included in the draft work plans we submitted to the DNR.
Question: Why can’t I test the water myself with an independent lab of my choosing?
Answer: If you want to test the water you certainly have that option. However, it’s important to realize that this is highly technical work. As these compounds are present in many household items and clothing, collecting the sample requires very specific methods to prevent contamination from those other sources. Additionally, 3rd party independent laboratories should be accredited and experienced in looking for these types of compounds. The consultant we are using, and the labs they are sending the samples to, have that specific experience.
Question: Are the filtrations systems you are offering the best available?
Answer: Just as qualified and accredited labs should test your drinking water, it is important that the water filtration system selected is specifically designed and proven to treat water where PFOA and PFOS are present. The filtration systems that we recommend have been shown to successfully treat water exposed to PFOS and PFOA. Again, you can shop around, but we are working with a consultant and a supplier with proven track records and technology. And to reiterate, we are paying for the installation and maintenance of these systems.
Question: How will this affect property value?
If any home in the study area has elevated levels, it is our understanding that there are really three options in cases like this. All three options have proven to be effective in resolving the presence of these compounds in a home’s water supply.
Question: How far have these substances traveled offsite?
Answer: It is still too early to know how far they may have traveled. We are still in the process of determining through delineation testing where the compounds may have traveled, and how many private wells might have levels of PFOS or PFOA.
Question: What is the percentage of shallow wells that have tested above the HAL?
Answer: All of the wells that have test results above the HAL have been shallow wells. The percentage of those meeting this threshold changes as more results come in, but the general trend lines continue to hold and the percentage is holding at or near 8% of the wells tested. Keep in mind we are testing wells only in areas where we’ve seen suggestions that groundwater movement may have carried these compounds. Only a certain part of the town of Peshtigo is in the study area.
Question: How have the resampling results compared to the initial sample results for drinking water wells?
Answer: The resampling efforts have consistently returned results that mirror or come very close to the initial round of results. None of the resampling results changed a well’s status into a different category. For example, drinking water wells that had “Non Detect” results in the initial testing all had “Non Detect” results in follow-up testing.
Question: What depth has returned the most detections?
Answer: While the well-depths at which detections have occurred has varied, by and large the majority of detections has occurred between 15 and 30 feet below ground surface, which is consistent with the theory that detections are generally found in groundwater from the shallow sand aquifer.
Question: If deeper bedrock wells are drilled within the study area, will they provide a conduit for shallow groundwater that contains PFAS to migrate into deeper aquifers that don’t contain PFAS?
Answer: There are specific ways to install bedrock wells that are done in a manner to prevent cross-contamination. These methods involve using specialized drilling equipment to seal parts of the well that are above bedrock and stop shallow groundwater from being able to flow into the well as it is being installed and after it is installed.
Question: Will Tyco pay to test wells that may be installed in the future?
Answer: Tyco Fire Products, L.P remains committed to addressing the issue, and we will continue to test wells inside of the study area.
Question: What is the definition of shallow and deep wells? How deep is a shallow vs. deep well?
Answer: The depth of wells varies greatly, depending upon where they are drilled and how deep the water table is at that location. When we talk about “deep wells” we are referring to wells that are deep enough to draw from groundwater in bedrock.
Question: How am I not being exposed by bathing in the water, or watering my garden with it? What other exposure pathways are possible?
Answer: The EPA Health Advisory states that, “These health advisories only apply to exposure scenarios involving drinking water. They are not appropriate for use in identifying risk levels for ingestion of food sources, including: fish, meat produced from livestock that consumes contaminated water, or crops irrigated with contaminated water.”
Question: When will a decision be made regarding what wells will be cleaned up that are detected below the HAL?
Answer: We are working with the DNR and DHS to determine what course of action might be taken for wells with detected levels, but below the HAL. In the meantime we continue to offer bottled water to those households and businesses that fall into this category.