Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content




There is no evidence of public exposure to chemicals from the lagoons at levels that would resultin health effects, and WBPH is not aware of any reports of clusters of chronic disease near thissite. The remedial investigation for the site found that the PCBs are effectively contained in thelagoons and are not migrating to the groundwater or adjacent surface waters. Workers andmembers of the public interested in bird watching have access to the site and the lagoonsthemselves. Due to the location of the lagoons and the limited opportunity for direct contact withthe PCB contaminated sludge, the site does not pose a public health hazard. The selected remedyfor the site includes consolidating and capping the contaminated sludge. The remedy will alsoinclude continued monitoring and maintenance activities, as well as deed restrictions on futureuses of the site. This remedy will be protective of public health for future uses of the site.

The Metrogro program is in compliance with all state and federal requirements; however, likemetals, PCBs are generally considered to be persistant compounds and may also be expected toaccumulate in soils with subsequent sludge applications. There are no lifetime loading limits forPCBs in existing sludge spreading regulations. Because spreading of low level PCBcontaminated sludges is a topic of statewide interest, WDNR has established a PCB workinggroup to develop policy recommendations that will be protective of public health and theenvironment.


WBPH will continue to evaluate new environmental data from the site and respond to publichealth concerns that are raised.

WBPH will update those who have expressed interest in issues related to the spreading of sludgecontaining low PCB levels on the progress of the WDNR PCB working group.


Kenneth M. Bro, Environmental Engineer
Wisconsin Bureau of Public Health

Chuck Warzecha, Hydrogeologist
Wisconsin Bureau of Public Health


Louise Fabinski, Senior Regional Representative, Region 5, Regional Services, Office of theAssistant Administrator


Gail Godfrey, Division of Health Assessment and Consultation
Steve Inserra, Division of Health Studies
Grant Baldwin, Division of Health Education and Promotion


This Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District Sludge Lagoons Public Health Assessment wasprepared by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services under a cooperativeagreement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR). It is inaccordance with approved methodology and procedures existing at the time the public healthassessment was begun.

Gail D. Godfrey
Technical Project Officer
Superfund Site Assessment Branch (SSAB)
Division of Health Assessment and Consultation (DHAC)

The Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, ATSDR, has reviewed this public healthassessment and concurs with its findings.

Adrienne Hollis for REG
Richard E. Gillig


1. The document text indicates that bird watchers are not likely to leave the trails frequently. However, it is not uncommon for bird watchers to take extraordinary measures to get closer tothe birds. [a]How is "frequently" defined? [b]And is there an increased risk if bird watchers wereto leave the trails "frequently"? [c]If so, what are the main concerns?

a. "Frequency" was not explained in the Public Comment Release of this document as itrelates to bird watchers leaving the trails. The Toxicological Implications section has beenrevised to explain the term "frequently" as it is used here. The risk estimate for birdwatchers assumed that they could leave the trail as much as 30 times per year for 30 years.

b. Yes, the risks could increase slightly as bird watchers spend more time in the lagoonsthemselves. However, the frequency estimate used is unlikely to be exceeded.

c. The main exposure concerns would be from increased inhalation and incidentalingestion of lagoon sludges.

2. The report states that there is no geologic barrier preventing the migration of contaminants tothe groundwater. Recent groundwater studies of Dane County, and particularly the Madisonarea, have found a trend of decreasing water tables due to the level of groundwater use in thebasin. Could PCBs from the lagoon sludge threaten groundwater in the future if water from thelagoons ends up flowing downward into the groundwater.

The effects of the dropping water table in this area have significant water quantity andquality implications. Fortunately, future PCB contamination of groundwater is notexpected to occur at this site, even if water from the lagoons migrates to the groundwater. PCBs attach themselves quite strongly to soil and particularly to sludge material. Thisprevents them from moving through the soils into the groundwater. Information about thelack of mobility of PCBs was not discussed clearly in the Public Comment Release of thisdocument and has been added to the "Environmental Contamination and Other Hazards"section.


  1. Blasland, Bouck, and Lee, Inc. 1994. Remedial investigation report: Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District lagoons site, Madison, Wisconsin. Syracuse, New York, January.
  2. Blasland, Bouck, and Lee, Inc. 1996. Lagoon Site Baseline Risk Assessment: Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Madison, Wisconsin. Syracuse, New York, September.
  3. Bro, Kenneth. 1989. File memorandum of site visit conducted 26 April 1989 of Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District sludge lagoons. Wisconsin Division of Health, Madison, Wisconsin.
  4. Dane County Regional Planning Commission. 1988. Yahara lakes. Madison, Wisconsin. July.
  5. Dane County Regional Planning Commission. 1988. Dane County water quality plan, Appendix F: Residual and solid waste disposal. Madison, Wisconsin. August.
  6. Hall, Andy. 1995. Sludge disposal incites dispute: PCB contamination poses threat. Wisconsin State Journal. 26 February.
  7. Kester, Greg. 1995. Disposal plan is safe for low-level sludge. Letter to the editor for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Wisconsin State Journal. 8 April.
  8. Krueger, David. 1995. Err on the side of safety in disposing of sludge. Letter to the editor from a citizen who lives next to croplands where sludge is applied. Wisconsin State Journal. 8 April.
  9. Lueders, Bill. 1995. Sludge hammer. Isthmus. 24 November.
  10. Madison Metropolitan Sewage District. 1983. Phase I report: in-field conditions investigation of the Madison Metropolitan Sewage District's sludge storage lagoons. Madison, Wisconsin. 23 November.
  11. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. 1990. 201 facilities planning update: summary of work associated with The District sludge lagoon abandonment project. Madison, Wisconsin. January.
  12. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. 1991. Summary of sludge PCB content; draft report to RI/FS advisory committee. Madison, Wisconsin. 20 June.
  13. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. 1994. Committed to a clean, safe return to the environment. Madison, Wisconsin. September.
  14. Mather, Priscilla B. 1987. A preliminary risk assessment of risk associated with land disposal of sludge containing polychlorinated biphenyls. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin. January 16.
  15. Nemke, James L. 1988. Correspondence to Stephen Lingle, Hazardous Site Evaluation Division, Office of Emergency and Remedial Response, U. S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding proposed NPL listing of Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District sludge lagoons. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Madison, Wisconsin. 18 August.
  16. RMT, Inc. 1989. Hydrogeology summary report for the Nine Springs Sludge Lagoons for Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District. Madison, Wisconsin. March.
  17. Schuff, Richard G. Correspondence to Paul Nehm, Director of Wastewater Treatment Operation, Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, regarding review of infield condition report. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Madison, Wisconsin. 29 August.
  18. Tenenbaum, David. 1988. Sludge hammer: EPA action could clobber sewerage district and area rate-payers. Isthmus, 13(45). 4 November.
  19. Tenenbaum, David. 1995. There's always sludge. Letter to the editor. Isthmus. 22 December.
  20. U. S. Public Health Service. 1995. Draft toxicological profile for polychlorinated biphenyls. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. Atlanta, Georgia.
  21. Blasland, Bouck, and Lee, Inc. 1996. Lagoon Site Feasibility Study Report: Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District lagoons site, Madison, Wisconsin. Syracuse, New York, September.
  22. Nemke, James L. 1985. Correspondence to Richard G. Schuff, Residuals Management Land Disposal Section, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Madison, Wisconsin. January 29.
  23. Taylor, David S. 1988. Memorandum to James L. Nemke regarding PCB concentrations inthe East Lagoon. Madison Metropolitan Sewerage District, Madison, Wisconsin. 2 February.

Table of Contents The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, 4770 Buford Hwy NE, Atlanta, GA 30341
Contact CDC: 800-232-4636 / TTY: 888-232-6348

A-Z Index

  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #