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Environmental expert warns PFAS spread in Rhinelander could be miles away from sourceSubmitted: 05/05/2020
Dan Hagen
Dan Hagen
Reporter/Anchor
dhagen@wjfw.com

Environmental expert warns PFAS spread in Rhinelander could be miles away from source
RHINELANDER - Last year, two Rhinelander wells were shut down because of PFAS contamination. The Water Action Team Rhinelander, or WATR, held a virtual forum on the issue Tuesday.

Dr. James Tinjum spoke about the unique challenges from PFAS chemicals. He said it comes in miniscule quantities, making it very difficult to extract.

Tinjum said the city's first step should be to contain the original contamination area.

"One of the things you would look to do first is contain the source area, because once it gets out the barn, those cows are really hard to get back in," said Tinjum.

There has been a lot of speculation on where the source area actually is.

An independent investigation pointed to city sewage injected into the ground at the Rhinelander Oneida County airport as a possible culprit.

Wherever the source may be, Dr Tinjum said at Tuesday's meeting it's hard to say how far PFAS has spread.

"I don't want to scare the community, but then, at the same time, I will," said Tinjum. "A PFAS plume can be very large - upwards of miles away from that source."

Dr. Tinjum said once the source is identified, the city can find out which private wells may be contaminated. The next WATR public forum is on June 2.




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