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City says PFAS chemicals can be burned, if found in sewer system

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The PFAS chemicals being detected in French Island wells are often called “forever chemicals,” but maybe they don’t last forever. 

The city of La Crosse says burning may be the best way to get rid of PFAS found in local wastewater. 

City utility manager Bernie Lenz tells a La Crosse County committee that drying sludge from the sewage can trap those chemicals in a solid material, that can be burned for energy.

“The fluorine-carbon bond is a very, very strong bond, and one of the only ways to really break that bond and separate it back out and actually destroy PFAS is through incinerations,” said Lenz, speaking to the county’s emergency planning committee.         

City experts caution that the PFAS traced to firefighting foam from the La Crosse Airport could be harder to destroy.      

Meanwhile, families on French Island who have found PFAS in their well water are hoping the DNR can keep supplying them with bottled water. 

The clerk for the town of Campbell, Cassie Hanan, says the state’s agreement to provide families with drinking water only lasts until early fall.    

Hanan tells the emergency committee that besides home wells, businesses on the Island are getting their water tested as well.  PFAS used by the La Crosse airport for decades have turned up in dozens of nearby wells.     

         

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.