For the past several years, people in the Wausau area have been voicing their concerns regarding the contamination issues from the Crestline/SNE/Wauleco site going back to 1946.
The penta soaked through the soil and into the groundwater. Over many decades, hundreds of thousands of gallons of water contaminated with pentachlorophenol, or penta, a wood preservative that was used at the site, have been pumped into the Wausau Waste Water Treatment plant. Some of this has been released into the Wisconsin River.
As recently as Jan. 21, 2019, penta reared its ugly head again when penta was found in four of the six manholes that were tested.
Now we are learning, through research and release of documents, that 400 tons of wood waste was burned a month at the site for many years. Just think of the air, soil and water contamination the area has experienced over many decades without any knowledge of the health risks to the residents in the area: gardeners digging in the soil and eating the vegetables; children playing in their yards and at the parks; people eating the fish caught in the Wisconsin River; people breathing the air that has never been monitored.
Hundreds of documents regarding the contamination issues from three different corporations, Crestline/SNE/Wauleco, Connor Forest Industries, and 3-M have been posted on the Citizens for a Clean Wausau website and Facebook page. These documents detail the ongoing contamination issues and health concerns of the employees and the residents going back decades.
Sadly, there haven’t been studies regarding the health issues to know just how many people have been affected by the contamination. The city of Wausau, Marathon County and the state of Wisconsin have been negligent in not doing a thorough study. These entities have been negligent in sweeping the issues under the rug for over 60 years. These entities never notified the public regarding the health risks to the people in the area.
In March of 2019, WDNR, WDHS and REI have finally recommended additional testing for Riverside Park. This testing must be done!
Meanwhile, several of the City Council members and Mayor Mielke refuse to seek additional soil testing along Thomas Street and the corridors near the Wauleco site before construction begins in the spring. Sadly, they have minimized the “voices of the people” and have denigrated the concerns of the people.
The basic demands of the Citizens for a Clean Wausau are:
1. Citizens need to know exactly what contaminates exist in the soil in Riverside Park, along Thomas Street, the surrounding residential areas and commercial properties. Additional testing is a must before any digging begins that disturbs the soils.
2. After the soil samples have been tested and analyzed, this information must be released to the public through the city of Wausau as a service to the community it serves before any digging begins.
3. Citizens must be given the complete plan outlining the remediation process to assure no contaminates of any kind are released into the air, soil and water. The goal of the remediation is to assure the residents along Thomas Street and the adjoining areas that they will not be exposed to any harmful toxins during the Thomas Street Construction Phase II process that is expected to last at least six months. A lot can happen in six months depending on the weather and construction challenges.
4. The Thomas Street construction process will cost the residents $3,185,000. It’s the people of this city and state who will pay the bills. Sadly, their voices are not being heard and their concerns are minimized.
Is it any wonder, citizens no longer trust agencies, the mayor, City Council members and the staff after witnessing that the voices of concerned citizens are not taken seriously.
There is a saying, “It’s hard to trust when all you have from the past is evidence of why you shouldn’t.”
Joyce Luedke of Rothschild
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to 500 N. Third St. Suite 208-8; Wausau, WI 54403.