DNR lab results find PFAS contamination on French Island in wells south of I-90

The results bring the total number of PFAS contaminated wells to 379
Notices Of Claim Med Res

TOWN OF CAMPBELL, Wis. (WBKT)- More than 100 additional wells in the Town of Campbell are contaminated with PFAS; including some wells south of I-90. 

PFAS are dangerous man-made compounds linked to infertility, thyroid disease, and cancer. The chemicals were used to produce the fire fighting foam sprayed at the La Crosse Regional Airport for decades. 

This fall the City of La Crosse tested for and found PFAS in more than 100 private wells surrounding the airport, prompting other home owners and the DNR to sample wells throughout French Island. 

The DNR released its results to News 8 Now. An additional 170 wells have tested positive for PFAS; including wells south of I-90. 

Today’s results bring the total number of PFAS contaminated wells to 379. The PFAS levels in 100 exceed the Department of Health Services proposed safety standard. And; there may be more. The results of another 19 DNR tests are still pending. 

The DNR issued an interim area-wide drinking water advisory and is providing free, bottled water to any Island household not already receiving water from the City of La Crosse. The DNR is also investigation the sources of contamination. The City has only taken responsibility for the wells to the south and east the airport. The city’s consultant says he believes there are other sources of contamination, but have never named the sources.

The new results come the same day a growing number of French Island families put the City of La Crosse on notice. Attorney Tim Jacobson served the city on behalf of 787 people. They blame the City of La Crosse for PFAS contamination.  The “notice of circumstances of claim and injury” is required by law before a party can sue municipality. The claim doesn’t list a dollar amount—yet. It could be in the millions.  Jacobson’s clients want the City to pay for a permanent source of clean water. That could mean paying to pipe city water to French Island. “We are taking an important step in pursing legal claim to seek compensation for these people, and also to seek a clean water remedy; a permanent clean water supply for these people where they are not getting stuck with a bill for a problem they did not create,” says Jacobson.

La Crosse Mayor Mitch Reynolds, who took office in April released this statement to News 8 Now: “While I respect the right of individuals to file claims against the city, I can take no official stance on the merit of those claims at this time. I am committed to continuing the process begun months before I took office to address concerns of our neighbors in the Town of Campbell and residents of the city who live on French Island. That process includes providing water, testing wells, analyzing data and engaging specialists to help us come up with answers and solutions. We are also hopeful that other entities will join the city of La Crosse in both urging the EPA to regulate PFAs chemicals and the FAA to stop mandating the use of PFAs-containing fire suppression foam at our airport. We would also hope those same entities would partner with the city in pursuing legal recourse against the manufacturers of chemicals that have caused the issues we are working through today.”