By Shereen Siewert

Results from six soil samples taken in August along the Thomas Street corridor all contain dioxin and furan compounds, though at levels below state recommended limits, according to a news release issued Monday.

One of the six samples, taken at a depth of between 10 and 12 feet, did show the presence of groundwater, the release stated. That sample is being further analyzed, with results expected in early to mid October.

City officials previously stated they believed groundwater levels in the area were at about 20 feet, far below the level of excavation necessary if a proposed Thomas Street reconstruction plan moves forward. To replace the road, crews would be required to dig between 8 and 10 feet below the surface.

In the release, Public Works Director Eric Lindman wrote:

“The mayor’s office hopes this latest round of additional soil testing alleviates the residents’ environmental concerns in this area and that the soils are safe for excavating. We can now focus on moving forward with public input related to the design and improvements of the Thomas Street corridor.”

The proposed reconstruction plan has been largely opposed by residents in the River Street district, many of whom say they are concerned about potential health risks if the project moves forward.

Some residents tell Wausau Pilot and Review they are not feeling a sense of relief that the soil samples came back as acceptable, because the surface soil itself was not tested. Instead, the tests were performed at soil depths of between 1-2 feet and between 10-12 feet, according to city documents.

But court documents from a May 2008 lawsuit show that potential contamination, which can be traced to a manufacturing plant along the planned reconstruction site, are potentially most prevalent in the top soil, much of which will be disturbed if the project moves forward.

A full report on the test results is expected to be presented to members of the city’s Capital Improvements & Street Maintenance (CISM) committee at an Oct. 12 meeting.PR_Soil_Testing_Packet