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The Problem of 'Forever Chemicals' in Marinette, and the Solutions That Could Take As Long

A corporation impedes progress on tracing and removing PFAS contaminants from area water— chemical pollution it caused.

Chuck Boyle drives around Marinette and the Town of Peshtigo, regularly pulling over at places where creeks and drainage ditches intersect with the road. Born and raised in Peshtigo, an unincorporated township along Green Bay, Boyle has mapped these waterways out in his head, knowing where the water comes from and where it flows.

More often than not Boyle sees the telltale bright white, almost luminescent foam building up in the creeks’ nooks and crannies: per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, more commonly known as PFAS.

PFAS, man-made chemicals shown to have adverse health impacts, have spread through the area’s waterways, wastewater system, agricultural land and residents’ wells. But years after the contamination was disclosed, its extent and its impact on the community has still not been fully assessed. Instead of proactively addressing the issue, residents, local politicians and state regulation agencies have had to push the responsible company to fully reconcile the damage done.