City leaders are considering a project for the former Wausau Chemical site. (Photo: Wausau Chemical)

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU – Officials with the Environmental Protection Agency tell Wausau Pilot & Review they have not been informed by city leaders of a plan to relocate Wausau Chemical from its current riverfront location.

The approval on Tuesday to relocate Wausau Chemical comes just five days after the $7.9 million plan was announced to the public during a media roundtable session. Wausau Chemical is part of a Superfund site and is subject to regular review by officials from the Environmental Protection Agency.

“The city and EPA have not communicated recently regarding this site or any plan to relocate Wausau Chemical, where EPA studies on vapor intrusion are currently underway,” said Rachel Bassler, EPA press officer. “In the past, EPA was notified about the city’s potential redevelopment plans.”

Mayor Rob Mielke said the land would be redeveloped as part of the riverfront development project. But a deed restriction from the EPA, on file since 2007, prohibits residential development on the land.

 EPA Project Manager Sheri Bianchin said that so far, the site has been cleaned up to meet commercial or industrial redevelopment standards. EPA and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources would closely coordinate on the additional studies and further cleanup required before residential redevelopment would be allowed, she said.

In a Facebook post shortly after Tuesday’s meeting concluded, District 1 Representative Pat Peckham wrote:

It was good to learn tonight that the property we’d have given to us with the tentative Wausau Chemical deal can be built on just as the Dudley Tower parcel was built on and the Franz Community Investors property is going to be built on in the east riverfront area. Construction costs will be a little higher but it can be used for residences.

Tuesday’s approval is just the first step in the process to relocate Wausau Chemical. So far, city leaders have not said if Wausau Chemical or the city would be responsible for cleanup costs.