PFAS Contamination – Safe Skies Cleanup Demands

Here is a February 1, 2021 email sent by Safe Skies to our new Wisconsin District 76 Representative Francesca Hong asking for that the DNR demand improvements to the PFAS investigation and cleanup requirements PFAS contamination at the Dane County Airport. Those responsible for the contamination include the City of Madison, Dane County Airport and Wisconsin Air National Guard. A copy of this email was sent to other state senate and assembly representatives for districts around the Madison Chain of Lakes.


Tory Martinson, of Cross Plains, catches a bluegill on Monona Bay last winter. The state Department of Natural Resources has found hazardous “forever chemicals” in all Madison lakes.

Representative Hong,

Following up our call on January 15th, here is a list of requested improvements to the PFAS contamination investigation and cleanup at the Dane County Airport. This is based on the experience of members of Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin and other community members who have followed this issue.

When you meet with Darci Foss at the DNR in the future, here are concrete examples of needed improvements. Some of these are based on actions already taken by the DNR at similarly contaminated sites.

I have copied other legislators who represent areas which include the chain of lakes.

Steven Klafka
On behalf of Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin


Dane County Airport PFAS Contamination
Safe Skies Requested Improvements

The City of Madison, Dane County Airport and Wisconsin Air National Guard have been determined by the DNR to be the responsible parties for the PFAS contamination at the Dane County Airport, Truax Field, Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona. DNR testing recently found the contamination to extend to the Yahara River and all five of Madison’s lakes. We feel the DNR has not been demanding that the responsible parties comply with state requirements for investigation and cleanup, even as PFAS move into the surface and groundwater daily. Human exposure to the PFAS continues and further contamination will occur if the National Guard begins an extensive construction project at Truax Field.

Here is a list of improvements that should be taken to address the PFAS contamination at the Dane County Airport:

  1. The responsible parties (i.e. City of Madison, Dane County Airport and Wisconsin Air National Guard) should be required to determine the full extent of PFAS contamination at Truax Field and the County airport and how much PFAS has migrated from these properties into the groundwater and Starkweather Creek and Dane County chain of lakes. Testing should include: 1) shallow and deep groundwater, 2) surface water, 3) sediments,  and 4) fish.
  2. The responsible parties should complete and proceed promptly with a remediation plan to control further releases of PFAS into the surface and groundwaters, as well as remove existing PFAS contamination to levels consistent with proposed state standards.
  3. The responsible parties need to determine if PFAS leach out of the sediments into the water and fish, and how to address this route of exposure. If PFAS will leach into the water, the sediments are a source of future contamination that need to be addressed in cleanup plans.
  4. The responsible parties should test private wells to determine if they contain PFAS which has migrated from Truax Field and the county airport. In 2020, the City of La Crosse tested more than 100 private wells downstream of PFAS contamination at the La Crosse Regional Airport, is now providing residents bottled water, and is holding public informational sessions.
  5. The Air National Guard should not be allowed to begin any of its upcoming $120 million construction projects at Truax Field to avoid releasing additional PFAS and meet their requirement to “contain or stabilize a discharge of a hazardous substance or environmental pollution, in order to minimize any threat to public health, safety, or welfare, or the environment.” Any permits issued by the DNR for construction will not stop the release of contaminated water.
  6. The responsible parties should offer uncontaminated fish to those who fish in Starkweather Creek and Lake Monona as part of their diet.
  7. The responsible parties should provide quarterly progress reports to the general public.
  8. The responsible parties should hold periodic interactive meetings with the general public until cleanup is completed. These meetings should allow the public to ask questions and receive responses. While not meetings have been held her, the DNR has hosted online listening sessions regarding the PFAS contamination investigation in Marinette, Peshtigo and surrounding communities, with 12 listening sessions so far. These listening sessions have included routine updates from the DNR, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and other partners regarding the status of the PFAS investigations in those  communities. Similar listening sessions should be held for Dane County residents.
  9. The responsible parties should require the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District to test PFAS in its outflow waters as and the sludge it has spread on farmland for decades. Outflow may be contaminating downstream water bodies. Spreading sewage sludge has shown to be an important pathway for well contamination in Peshtigo and Marinette.