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Cindy Nolan of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region V, Superfund Emergency Removal Program, asked the Wisconsin Department of Health and Social Services, Bureau of Public Health (BPH), to review the latest sampling data for the Better Brite Plating property to determine if chromium in soil is a public health hazard. BPH reviewed the sampling information provided for the Better Brite Plating property in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The surface soil hexavalent chromium results for recent sampling are not consistent with the results of samples taken in the past. Past sampling done by EPA and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) indicated a health hazard for people who contact the surface soils outside the building. The recent sample results do not. Additional sampling in this area would help clarify actual site conditions. Also based on past sampling, the contamination beneath the building itself will be of health concern when the structure is removed due to vector control problems, nuisance complaints, and structural problems posing physical hazards.


The Better Brite Plating property is a former metal plating facility in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The property is located in a mixed residential and light industrial part of the city (420 Palmer Street). Past investigations of the property identified chromium contamination in surface soils outside the existing building as well as beneath the structure itself. The company conducted chrome plating and metal finishing from 1970 to 1986. In-ground tanks are in the building. Evidence suggests that significant amounts of chromic acid leaked onto the floor and into floor drains, discharging to the sanitary sewer system. The building itself is in poor physical condition and numerous dead small animals (primarily birds and rodents) have been found in the building. The animals may have died from drinking contaminated water that has accumulated in puddles on the floor from leaks in the roof, although that theory is not substantiated.

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