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Tests show PFAS contamination in 500 French Island wells

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — More than 500 wells on French Island have been contaminated with some level of PFAS chemicals, according to final results of state testing.

The La Crosse Tribune reported Friday that 538 wells on the island just west of La Crosse showed some level of the chemicals and 165 of them had levels above the state’s recommended 20 parts per trillion hazard standard. Nine wells exceeded 1,000 parts per trillion.

Seventeen wells with PFAS are public wells; two of them exceeded standards. They’re not municipal wells but could supply a library, store, or office, the state Department of Natural Resources said. The agency isn’t releasing the names of those facilities but is requiring that patrons be notified of the contamination.

State officials have been supplying bottled water to island residents.

The island is under the jurisdiction of the town of Campbell but the city of La Crosse operates an airport on the island. The contamination is believed to stem from fire-fighting foam used at the airport, although testing has since suggested the pollution exceeded that perimeter and came from an additional source.

The city filed a lawsuit in March against a host of chemical manufacturers that produced firefighting foam alleging they knew since the 1960s that PFAS could be released from the foam and seep into groundwater.

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