MARINETTE — After conducting an environmental assessment of its first testing facility in Marinette, Johnson Controls-Tyco Fire Products LP announced Monday it had identified a contaminant in the groundwater beyond the property.

During a joint meeting of the Marinette City Council and the Water & Wastewater Utilities commissions, the approval of an access agreement was granted for further testing to see how far the contaminant has gone.

“As you know, we’ve been building next to the Tyco property, so we did all of our due diligence to determine if there were any contamination issues that would affect our (Community) REC Center,” said Mayor Steve Genisot. “Back this summer, they asked to do some additional testing inside those boundaries to determine where the plume went, which did come to the council to get approved. As part of that, they added another test they wanted to do per the DNR (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources).”

The results were released Monday, he said.

“They found some levels they didn’t like and now need to find what direction the plume is going,” Genisot said.

According to Bob Klauk, hydrogeologist of the DNR, PFOA and PFOS chemicals, perfluorooctanoic acids, had shown up on the test.

“This contaminant is sort of new in the fact that it isn’t regulated to a point where there are official action levels in Wisconsin at this point,” he said. “This contaminant can be found on Teflon frying pans, stain resistant carpet, microwave popcorn bags, McDonalds wrappers, etc.

“It also has been in part of the fire retardant, which is where this originated in regards to the particular incident with the fire training that has been performed at the technology center for years. That’s the source of the contaminant that we’re dealing with right now.”

Rich Mater, a representative of Tyco, and Genisot said the primary concern is ingestion of the chemicals. This could affect those people who still have wells that aren’t hooked up to municipal water.

“We wanted to get on it right away so that we’re not delaying anything for the public if there is concern,” Genisot said. “Most of the folks in the area are on municipal water.”

Genisot said there are a small number of wells in the city. The water utility did give the information to the DNR regarding those who still use well water.

As for city water, Genisot said Water and Wastewater Utilities Manager Warren Howard has it covered.

“They (Water and Wastewater Utilities) did a test when the standard came out,” Genisot said. “The check was a while ago, for which nothing came up — it was clean. As our due diligence we wanted to test it again just to make sure — as a double safety check.”

Jim Cox Sr., manager of marketing communications of Johnson Controls, said the company is working “to fully characterize the current conditions both on our facility and beyond our property boundary.”

“We are also inventorying nearby wells, and will shortly be drilling new borings to determine if there has been groundwater movement,” he said. “We live in this community, and our employees and the community are our highest priorities. We take environmental compliance very serious, and we regret any concerns or inconveniences this might have caused our neighbors.”

Testing will begin Monday with the use of a mobile lab that gives results typically within 24 hours. Between six to 12 borings will be conducted on city property.

“These borings will be conducted with a direct-push drill rig to retrieve groundwater samples,” Exhibit A of the Marinette proposal investigation scope of work stated. “Groundwater samples will be collected from every 10 feet until the top of bedrock has been reached or refusal is encountered. The consultant will ensure all appropriate safety measures are taken in conjunction with the work and will take possession of and remove from the site any soil and materials generated from these borings.”

“We didn’t want to delay this testing,” Genisot said. “We wanted to have a meeting and get this access agreement figured out.”