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Letters: Local environmental group outlines ongoing project concerns

in Opinion

Editor’s note: This letter was sent March 15, 2019 to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources by Citizens for a Clean Wausau. The group asked that the letter, which is public record, be shared publicly. Letters to the editor and opinion pieces are regularly published on our site. See below for submission details.

TO: Matthew Thompson and David Rozeboom, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

We have all been encouraged by the DNR’s recent decision to require more testing by Wauleco in the neighborhood as well as with DHS’ recent communication indicating that it too believed more testing was appropriate. These are important and necessary steps that are long overdue.

CCW’s ongoing concern is that the City may be planning to go ahead with projects without waiting for the results of this additional information. Does anyone know enough to say that is a well thought out and reasonable approach right now?

We don’t think so. Not as long as there is even a possibility that moving forward with any projects in this area before the DNR has the ability to review the latest findings – as well as the scope of work from Wauleco related to decades of burning toxic material in the neighborhood – could cause harm to area residents.

It seems wholly illogical to require testing to ascertain the potential harm and extent of contamination and not require these test results be received and reviewed prior to the beginning of any soil excavation.

Not only is that a cost that taxpayers probably should not have to bear, since the problem was caused by Wauleco, but how can the City be sure it won’t make the extent of contamination worse if they move forward on any projects in the park area or Thomas Street corridor/neighborhood  without adequate information?  Doesn’t this create some risk for the City?

To mitigate those concerns – and perhaps mitigate Wausau’s potential legal liability resulting from those practices,  Citizens for a Clean Wausau respectfully asks that you recommend that the City receive park & neighborhood test results BEFORE they start digging on any project. The DHS and REI have both, in their reports, clearly indicated that the city simply doesn’t have enough data to ensure the safety of residents. We ask that you ensure enough data is available before beginning any projects in the park or Thomas Street neighborhood.

Let us be clear in our requests.

Citizens for a Clean Wausau is asking the DNR to hold Wauleco and its parent company accountable for past practices. We ask that you demand a scope of work to clean up any toxic soil resulting from aerial deposition of toxins distributed in the Thomas Street neighborhood and Riverside Park area from past burning practices.

Second, we ask that you request a comprehensive plan to test the soils in Riverside Park to better understand the extent of contamination in the Park from the Wauleco site and the potential impacts from  chemical spills from 3M. The City and the public have a right to know the answers to these questions before any work is done.

Third, we ask that you recommend to the City of Wausau that all test results are received, made public and reviewed prior to any soil excavation.

Transparency is the cornerstone of democracy and we ask that all documentation which arises from the contamination investigations be shared with us immediately. The safety of Wausau’s neighborhoods and of Wausau’s residents is at stake. Please, be the officials you have been selected to be.

Respectfully submitted,

CITIZENS FOR A CLEAN WAUSAU

Editor’s note: The views of our readers are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot and Review. To submit a letter, email us at editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail letters to 500 N. Third St. Suite 208-8; Wausau, WI 54403.

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