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Citizen group plans independent testing of Thomas Street soil

in Investigations

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A group of Wausau residents plans to conduct additional environmental testing of the soil along the Thomas Street corridor amid an ongoing debate over contaminated soil in the area.

The Citizens for an Environmentally Safe Thomas Street Neighborhood in October hired Milwaukee attorney Ted Warpinski to represent the group, which has expressed repeated concerns over potential soil and groundwater contamination due to decades of manufacturing activities in the area.

Warpinski is an attorney with Friebert, Finerty, & St. John, the same firm that represented more than 100 Wausau residents in a 2008 lawsuit against Wauleco, a subsidiary of Sentry Insurance. Wauleco is the current owner of the property, which is the alleged main source of contamination in the area.

In an Oct. 11 letter sent to city officials, Warpinski called into question testing performed by AECOM that led city leaders to declare a proposed road reconstruction project safe. That testing, Warpinski stated, was inadequate, and was “never likely to reveal any contaminants of concern,” according to the letter, which is included in city documents.

The group is seeking permission to access city owned property as they undergo independent testing of the area by Sand Creek Consultants, an environmental engineering firm in Rhinelander. The testing will include samples from the top foot of soil, an area that was not tested by AECOM and that Warpinski says is crucial to assess the overall risk of the project proposed.

On Thursday, members of the capital improvements and street maintenance committee (CISM) are expected to discuss the group’s request.

 
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