MARINETTE, Wisconsin (Good Medical) – A Wisconsin-based company that manufactures fire-fighting foams knew its toxic products were contaminating groundwater for at least four years before warning residents, according to state registers.
Records from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources indicate that Tyco Fire Products discovered contamination of soils and wells in 2013 at the Marinette manufacturer's fire training site. Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. Contamination involves a class of chemicals known as per and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, which are linked to cancer and other health problems.
According to records, the company had some of the highest known concentrations of chemicals in groundwater and Wisconsin soil.
In November 2017, Tyco, a unit of Johnson Controls International, acknowledged that chemicals had spread beyond its Marinette site and had suspended the spraying of foam products on the outside. The following month, the company began distributing bottled water to residents whose private wells could be affected by the contamination.
Tyco tested 168 wells and 56 highlighted chemicals, the company said.
State officials said the Wisconsin law required businesses report pollution immediately but the company defended its actions by saying that we knew little about the PFAS at the time.
"In 2013, there was not the level of awareness and information such as it currently exists associated with PFOS / PFOA," said spokesman Fraser Engerman. Johnson Controls International.
But scientists have warned of the effects on health and other companies have stopped producing these chemicals for more than ten years.
Tyco also claimed that the company was not aware of contamination beyond the property before 2016.
"It was only in 2016 that we had data showing that we had concentrations of these compounds at the property line, so we started the series of tests that took us to where we are today. ", says the company's website.
Doug Oitzinger, the former mayor of the city, rejected Tyco's explanation.
"This is not news for them," he said. "They know that these pollutants have been judged as a environmental danger . "
Janell and Duane Goldsmith have twice analyzed the water in their wells and found chemical contamination above the threshold set by the federal government. Duane Goldsmith was diagnosed with gastrointestinal stromal tumor cancer and Janell Goldsmith had pregnancy-induced hypertension, according to a lawsuit filed in December. The couple's two sons also had developmental delays, according to the lawsuit.
"They have known for how long – and are they using these chemicals?" Said Janell Goldsmith. "You do not expect this to happen to your family and your community. So many things are going through your mind.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com