By Shereen Siewert

City of Wausau officials issued a news release Thursday declaring a west side park safe for the public, but the proclamation is being made before results from recent independent testing have been issued.

“The attached expert conclusion, the same as the other assessments initiated by the City, is that there are no public health hazards associated with the soils sampled,” the news release reads. “The results of the dioxins, as you will read in the report, are very typical values for urban areas around the country.”

The city based its proclamation on years-old data and a single test result in Riverside Park performed by Sentry-owned WAULECO earlier this year. The WAULECO testing was requested by the state Department of Natural Resources following a Wausau Pilot and Review report that detailed decades of burning of wood waste at the former manufacturing site, which is adjacent to the park.

During an October meeting, Citizens for a Clean Wausau spokesman Tom Kilian said the WAULECO study is an aerial deposition study due to decades of burning when that facility was in operation. The park issue is based on stormwater runoff, Kilian said, something the group’s independent testing will examine.

Sand Creek Consultants, the same group that performed testing on Thomas Street last year, performed three tests based on data that suggests possible stormwater runoff issues that could have impacted the environmental fitness of the park. Riverside Park, 100 Sherman St., lies north of Thomas Street and east of First Avenue along the western banks of the Wisconsin River.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services toxicologist Clara Jeong, in a Nov. 13 letter to Wausau Public Works Director Eric Lindman, said there is no apparent public health hazard from exposure to dioxin through incidental ingestion and direct dermal contact within the investigated area, but noted she based that decision only on currently available data.

In response to Wausau’s release, Citizens for a Clean Wausau issued the following statement:

“To confirm that soil levels in Riverside Park no longer exceed state standards, three soil samples were taken in the park last week by an environmental consultant on our behalf. The samples have been sent to Pace Analytical lab for dioxin and furan analysis, and we anticipate the results will be received in the next several weeks. We look forward to sharing them with the government and the public.”

Additional data will be reviewed when it becomes available, Jeong said in her memo.

“DHS will continue to work with the City,the Citizens for a Clean Wausau, DNR, and the Marathon Health Department to ensure the public is protected from environmental health hazards by reviewing additional data, assessing potential health risks, and responding to health related concerns or questions,” Jeong wrote.

See the full release, embedded below.ThomasStreet_DHS_ToxicologistRiskAssessment_PR