MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin environmental regulators have reached an agreement with the state’s largest business group and won’t release results of water sampling for unregulated PFAS chemicals until the courts decide whether state law allows for testing for the manmade compounds.
The agreement between the Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce means water sampling from industrial and municipal treatment plants for so-called “forever chemicals” can continue, but the results will not be released to the public.
The agreement, filed in Jefferson County Circuit Court Tuesday, replaces a judge’s temporary restraining order issued last week in a lawsuit brought by WMC, which had sought to block the DNR from testing for PFAS, a class of chemicals that have been shown to cause cancer and other illnesses.
In the lawsuit, WMC argued the DNR has no statutory authority to test for contaminants when there are no standards in place, the State Journal reported.
PFAS don’t easily break down in the environment and have been used for decades in a range of products and in firefighting foam. They have been detected in humans, wildlife and fish and have contaminated soil and groundwater at places throughout the state, including Madison, Marinette and La Crosse.
WMC says by releasing the results, the DNR is endangering the reputation of businesses as polluters even though they may be in compliance with their discharge permits.
The DNR is now developing water standards for two PFAS compounds.