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Buffum MKE Site

Site Information
  • Milwaukee, WI (Milwaukee County)
Contact Information

Community Involvement Coordinator
Susan Pastor (pastor.susan@epa.gov)
312-353-1325 or 800-621-8431, ext. 31325

On-Scene Coordinator
Kathy Halbur

Environmental and Disease Control Specialist Milwaukee Health Department (MHD)
Lindor Schmidt

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS)
Ryan Wozniak - Toxicologist

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR)
Mark Drews - Hydrogeologist

City of Milwaukee
Karen Dettmer

RACM Senior Environmental
Project Engineer


(where to view written records)

WDNR Service Center
2300 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Drive.

Contact OSC Kathy Halbur to view the file.


The Buffum MKE site, 3456 N. Buffum St, is a half-acre lot in a mixed residential/ commercial/industrial area of Milwaukee.  The Beerline Trail, a 4,000-foot-long recreational trail, is located to the south and west. An abandoned 100-year-old, three-story building with a long history of industrial uses is located on the property. 

Over the years, the building housed a furniture (billiard table) factory, yeast manufacturer, feed and fertilizer supplier, animal research laboratory, chemical processor, soap manufacturer, industrial wheel manufacturer, plastics manufacturer, fiberglass fabricator, reclaimer and processor of scrap and electronic metals, and woodworking shop. The building has been vacant since 2008 and has fallen into disrepair.

Today, there are numerous abandoned containers of hazardous waste and many piles of hazardous ash in the building. A portion of the roof has collapsed causing stormwater leakage which has mixed with the waste.  Pollutants have been discharged to the sump and possibly sewer. There is also evidence of regular trespassing and illegal dumping.

Contaminants of concern include lead, mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), chlorinated solvents, waste oil, flammable and corrosive materials, and asbestos.

The city of Milwaukee secured the building and posted warning notices. EPA did a site “assessment” after the city requested assistance in fall 2013. Based on the results of that assessment, EPA agreed that a cleanup was warranted.

Site Updates | Latest Update | Fact Sheets | POLREPs || Technical Documents || Photos

You will need the free Adobe Reader to view some of the files on this page. See EPA's PDF page to learn more.

Site Updates

January 2015

EPA removed over 300 tons of solid waste, a dozen drums of liquid waste, and numerous cylinders from inside this historic building in summer 2014. EPA and its contractors were on-site 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., weekdays.  Security was present during non-working hours.  Contaminants in the waste included lead, PCBs, asbestos, and mercury.  “Non-hazardous” waste went to Orchard Ridge Landfill in Menomonee Falls, Wis.  “Hazardous” waste was sent to appropriate treatment and disposal facilities across the country.  EPA continuously monitored the air to make sure neighboring homes weren’t affected by harmful dust during the waste removal work.

EPA was unable to address all of the hazards because of the building’s failing roof and poor structural conditions. The city of Milwaukee condemned the building and issued a “raze order” to the owner in August 2014.  Since the owner did not take down the building or appeal the order, the city is planning to demolish the building this spring.  In the meantime, EPA secured the building and is monitoring stormwater runoff.  EPA will coordinate with the city during demolition to remove any remaining hazards.  During the demolition, residents can expect increased truck traffic on Keefe Avenue and Holton and Buffum Streets as well as in the alleys surrounding the property, similar to last year.   Access to the nearby Beerline Trail may also be restricted at times.

EPA is working closely with the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Neighborhood Services, Milwaukee Fire Department, Milwaukee Health Department, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Wisconsin Department of Health Services. RACM is pursuing funding from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation for the demolition.

Fact Sheets

Pollution / Situation Reports (POLREPS)

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Technical Documents



Main building entrance (west side) secured off of Buffum Street


Operations entrance; EPA equipment staging area


Work crews collecting, staging, and categorizing all containerized liquid wastes for proper removal & disposal.

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