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Wisconsin AG sues Johnson Controls regarding Marinette PFAS pollution | Science & Environment

Wisconsin AG sues Johnson Controls regarding Marinette PFAS pollution | Science & Environment

Wisconsin is suing Marinette and its parent company for toxic forever chemicals that contaminated water in northeastern Wisconsin.

Attorney General Josh Kaul filed a civil action Monday against Johnson Controls & Tyco Fire Products. The lawsuit was brought by the Department of Natural Resources after Tyco Fire Products failed to notify them that it had released firefighting foam containing compounds known PFAS and failing to clean it.

Kaul is asking for a Marinette County Court to hold Johnson Controls liable for the state’s costs related to the contamination. The court will also order the company to conduct an investigation and cleanup at the Fire Technology Center.

Kaul stated in a statement that companies who contaminate water must completely remediate the damage they have caused. Every Wisconsinite should feel safe drinking the water.



Kaul (copy)

Kaul




Johnson Controls spokesperson did not immediately respond Monday to a request for comment.

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According to the complaint Tyco, and its predecessor Ansul, have been testing for foam since 1962. The synthetic compounds have been found to be contaminating the air and soil around the plant with cancer-causing chemicals.

According to the complaint, Tyco found high levels PFAS in soil and groundwater at the site from 2013 to 2016, but did not report them to the DNR until 2017.

The complaint claims that the company has not completed a site inspection as required by state law, and has taken very limited steps to remediate the contamination.

Johnson Controls has tested 172 private wells since 2017. 22 of these were contaminated by two PFAS compounds in concentrations that the Environmental Protection Agency considers unsafe. Another 38 were found to be above the Wisconsin Department of Health’s recommended drinking water levels.

Johnson Controls paid $17.5 million to Peshtigo residents whose drinking water was contaminated with PFAS last year as part of a separate class action lawsuit. The company claims it has also set aside $140 million for cleanup costs.

Kaul acknowledged Johnson Controls conducted a small investigation and is currently working with residents as well as the DNR.

He stated that they had taken positive steps. We believe that litigation is the best way forward at this point.

The suit comes as the largest business lobby in the state is challenging the authority of the state to require PFAS cleanup.

DNR has the authority under state law to regulate hazardous substances being discharged. The law defines hazardous substances as anything that can cause injury to human health or safety. It is determined by the location of the substance, its toxicity, and its concentration.

There is no definitive list for hazardous substances. This can include chemicals such as manure, corn or even milk and bee, which, in high concentrations, can pollute public waterways and kill aquatic life.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, and an Oconomowoc dry-cleaner claim that the DNR is violating the law by requiring polluters not to go through a lengthy rulemaking procedure that is subject to legislative approval for each substance.

A Waukesha County Judge is expected to make a ruling in this case next month.

This story will be updated.

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