Damakant Jayshi

The City Council on Tuesday modified Wausau’s budget to conduct additional environmental analysis at 1300 Cleveland Ave., a property where earlier testing revealed high levels of arsenic and other heavy metals.

The additional amount, $98,500, will come from the city’s environmental fund, and will mostly be used for soil testing and lab analysis as well as for report-writing, fieldwork and review of the test results, said Eric Lindman, Wausau’s Director of Public Works.  

Right before the council meeting on Tuesday, the Finance Committee approved the amount unanimously. 

“We are trying to delineate those areas where we had found exceedances,” Lindman told council members Tuesday. He added that another round of testing might be required by the state’s Department of Natural Resources based on the result if the testing, though not at the same scale. 

Alder Dawn Herbst wanted to know why 3M couldn’t be asked to foot the bill for testing since the company is expressing interest in purchasing part of the contaminated site. But Lindman said the city bears that responsibility because Wausau owns the property. The director, in response to questions from other alders, said so far contamination traced potentially to 3M could not be ruled out. 

Like Riverside Park, 1300 Cleveland Avenue has a history of environmental contamination tied to decades of manufacturing operations on the land, which was once the home of Connor Forest Industries and later the city’s business incubator.  State officials have been involved in investigating the contamination. Test results unearthed high concentrations of substances including thallium, which is now banned in the U.S. due to its extreme toxicity to humans. 

Damakant Jayshi is a reporter for Wausau Pilot & Review. He is also a corps member with Report for America, an initiative of GroundTruth Project that places journalists into local newsrooms. Reach him at damakant@wausaupilotandreview.com.