EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Ben Verburg, a principal engineer with Arcadis, explains the workings of a filtering system that filters PFAS from the water in Ditch B to a group of about 20 municipal leaders and utility workers from the cities of Marinette and Peshtigo and the Town of Peshtigo.
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
Ben Verburg, a principal engineer with Arcadis, explains the workings of a filtering system that filters PFAS from the water in Ditch B to a group of about 20 municipal leaders and utility workers from the cities of Marinette and Peshtigo and the Town of Peshtigo.
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MARINETTE — After receiving expressed interest from municipal government officials from the City of Marinette, City of Peshtigo and Town of Peshtigo, for an opportunity to tour a Marinette facility that houses a Granular Activated Carbon (GAC) filtration system for PFAS compounds, Tyco Fire Products LP offered an invite.

“We were asked by town and city leadership to put an invite out,” said Tyco Sr. Program Manager Scott Wahl, following the informative tour. “I thought we had a great response. Most of the city of Marinette council members were here, as well as the leadership from the Town of Peshtigo and City of Peshtigo. It was a great turnout.”  

City of Peshtigo Mayor Cathi Mahlke also expressed her thought that the Ditch B filtration system, or something like it, may become the standard in the future as the country continues to confront widespread PFAS contamination. She attended the tour on behalf of her residents, hoping to gain some knowledge about what might, at some point, also become reality for her city. 

“Right now the City of Peshtigo does not have any contaminated soil as does Marinette,” she said. “But eventually, in a couple of decades it will reach us … so it is good to see that Tyco is willing to invest in making changes for the future.” 

The GAC system filters per- and polyflouroalkyl substances (PFAS) from the water running through a stream known as Ditch B. (SEE SIDEBAR: “How GAC works”)

Ditch B represents one of two streams (the other, Ditch A) that meanders through Marinette, both crossing – or paralleling –Tyco’s property from which it receives run-off water. For many years, those waterways accumulated PFAS contamination that had leached from firefighting foams sprayed at Tyco’s testing facility. (SEE “Marinette PFAS history”). 

Starting in 2017 and in conjunction with its parent company Johnson Controls Inc., Tyco began measures of remediation and redevelopment under oversight from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). The GAC systems are part of those remedial actions. 

Thursday’s tour of the Ditch B location, allowed local leadership to ask questions on behalf of area residents as well as to educate themselves on one solution to an issue that communities across the state and country may be dealing with for years to come. 

“It (allows us) to see firsthand what the facility looks like and (learn) about the filtration in that area and to get an update on what is going on,” said Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot during a recent City Council meeting. 

After the tour Genisot expressed a piqued curiosity regarding the system. 

“It is interesting to see how much equipment goes into filtering a ditch that size,” he said. “This is a pretty massive amount of machinery … a lot more equipment than I envisioned.”

Town of Peshtigo Board of Supervisors chairman, Herman Pottratz conveyed his perspective that Tyco and JCI appear to be taking the correct action in addressing the contamination, despite misinformation the public receives from some print and televised media. He pointed out that JCI/Tyco already paid for and installed several point of entry (POET) carbon filtration systems at homes in his community where PFAS contaminated private wells. 

“They (JCI and Tyco) understand the issue and their intention is to clean it up,” Pottratz said. “And that is a good intention … and we intend to continue to work with them.”  

Jon Drees, supervisor for the Town of Peshtigo agreed with Pottratz, underscoring that the PFAS issue remains one that everyone must confront together. 

“I believe this is a start for all of us,” Drees said. “And this is a good start. This is quite a set up … and there is no waste generated … and there is no storage of hazardous chemicals. It is a step in the right direction.”