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Articles by Sarah Whites-Koditschek,

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Dan Bice, an independent driver, works with North Shore Environmental Construction employees Tyrone Rogers and Trent Thomas to remove PFAS-containing firefighting foam from a fire truck at the Jefferson Fire Department on June 22, 2023, in Jefferson, Wisconsin.

This article first appeared on Wisconsin Watch and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Five-gallon plastic pails holding a toxic chemical linked to cancer sat for years on the shelves of a fire department in south-central Wisconsin. Finally, in a heralded statewide cleanup, they were gathered up and shipped off. 

“I don’t have to worry about something being knocked over, broken open,” said Jefferson Fire Chief Ron Wegner. “So it’s just nice to have it gone.”

But where did it go?

It turns out there are no easy answers for dealing with “forever chemicals” called PFAS: a family of 12,000 human-made compounds that don’t readily break down in nature. Removed from Wisconsin, the birthplace of the modern environmental movement, means buried in the ground in Alabama, where the federal government has flagged areas as vulnerable to environmental injustice.

In Wisconsin, experts weighed the most socially and environmentally... Read more