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Does toxic soil at Riverside Park need cleanup? Committee to decide Monday

in Investigations/News

By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — The city’s parks and recreation committee on Monday will once again take up the issue of toxic soil in Wausau’s Riverside Park after reviewing the results of a preliminary environmental study.

The Phase I Environmental Study, which was conducted by local engineering firm REI, points to several areas of concern. Those aspects will be considered by the committee during their regularly scheduled meeting, set for 5:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 407 Grant St., Wausau.

Members of the committee in January voted to examine the possibility of environmental testing for Wausau’s Riverside Park, amid continued concerns from residents about the safety of the area.

Pat Peckham, chair of the committee, told fellow members during the January meeting he wasn’t personally convinced that health risks in the park exist. But REI’s report, issued last week, is recommending additional testing in the park based on several factors.

REI points out that the investigation of the nearby wood manufacturing site, a property now owned by Wauleco, is still ongoing and being monitored by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

“This site clearly has impacted groundwater which has migrated off the Wauleco site and onto adjacent properties including Riverside Park,” the assessment states.

Groundwater contamination would not be encountered by park-goers. But investigation for aerial deposition, something which could have had an impact in soils in Riverside Park, is still being investigated by state officials. The DNR has requested a scope of work to address the aerial deposition associated with the combustion of wastes generated at the facility by March 16.

That scope will identify additional sampling to be performed by Wauleco and will be under DNR review.

The REI report also points to soil contamination from a petroleum spill at 3M as well as dioxions ” likely deposited on the property from surrounding historical industrial uses,” according to city documents. Read the full report here.

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