UPDATE: Rhinelander shuts down Well 8 after PFAS levels increaseSubmitted: 11/25/2019
UPDATE: Rhinelander shuts down Well 8 after PFAS levels increase
Story By Newswatch 12 Team

RHINELANDER - UPDATE 11/28/2019: This story has been updated with a statement from Mayor Chris Frederickson.

In press release Tuesday, the mayor said he received no clear direction from "authorities above" his office regarding PFAS despite "frequent attempts to receive guidance on acceptable pfhxs ratios."

Frederickson said he looked to other state standards and did extensive research with the help of city staff before shutting off Well 8.

"I will continue to work towards answering this problem with every resource available to me," said Frederickson.

In the release, Frederickson said closing the well did not put the city's water supply at risk.

A second Rhinelander well will no longer supply water to the city because of PFAS contamination.

Mayor Frederickson ordered Well 8 shut down Friday and alerted the Oneida County Health Department, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the governor's office.

He said the most recent tests of Well 8 show PFHxS levels at 95.7 parts per trillion (ppt). 

In August, PFHxS chemicals in Oneida Co.'s Crescent Spring were above 90 ppt. Those results lead the health department to put up signs that read "drink at your own risk."

In May, Well 7 was shut down after lab tests showed a concerning level of PFAS. However, recent testing shows the levels of PFAS in Well 7 may have declined.

In a Nov. 5 letter, City Administrator Daniel Guild raised concerns over the original samples tested.

In a Nov. 19 letter from the DNR to Guild, Bureau of Drinking Water and Groundwater Program Director Steven Elmore stated "the department has no reason to question the accuracy of previous PFAS sampling results."

Elmore believes the decline in PFAS concentrations found in Well 7 came from inactivity. Elmore claims if the well were back in service concentrations of PFAS would increase.

In his letter, Elmore also asked Guild to make results from all PFAS testing public.

PFAS is found in stain-resistant fabrics, fire-fighting foams, food packaging and as a surfactant in industrial processes. According to the Environment Protection Agency, exposure to some PFAS contamination may have harmful health effects like thyroid disease, low birth weights and cancer.

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