Metropolis of La Crosse hires attorneys to struggle water contamination issues on French Island

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City of La Crosse hires attorneys to fight water contamination problems on French Island

February 11, 2021, 11:07 p.m.

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Posted: Feb 11, 2021 at 11:07 pm

Updated: February 11, 2021, 11:24 pm

LA CROSSE, Wisconsin (WKBT) – The La Crosse Joint Council on Thursday evening approved the hiring of two law firms to represent the city in litigation against chemical companies involved in the PFAS contamination on the French island.

Both the Finance and Personnel Committee and the entire Council approved the move.

La Crosse Mayor Tim Kabat said Tuesday the city was planning to bring lawsuits against the manufacturers of the chemicals and strongly encouraged affected residents to band together.

125 people in the city of Campbell have well water contaminated with the dangerous PFAS chemical. The fire extinguishing foam, which was sprayed at La Crosse airport for decades, was made from the artificial chemical.

That fall, the city learned that PFAS was in the ground at the airport and, according to its own tests, spread to more than 100 private wells.

The PFAS levels in almost half of the homes are so high that the water is not safe to drink, cook with, or use to brush your teeth.

The city could also face its own lawsuit.

Earlier this week, attorney Tim Jacobson, who represents 125 residents in the city of Campbell, served the city with a “Statement of Claim and Injury Notice” required by law before any party can sue a community.

Mayor Kabat said, “I personally don’t understand why Attorney Jacobson is trying to sow a division between residents of Campbell and the town of La Crosse, as we are both victims of these manufactured chemicals and have been negatively affected.”

“Our hope and goal is that we can negotiate informally and amicably with the city to find a solution that works for the citizens of the French island,” said Jacobson.

Jacobson is also planning action against the chemical manufacturers and hopes the city will work with him.