UPDATE: More soil testing to be done in the Riverside Park area of Wausau

Published: Mar. 6, 2019 at 4:07 PM CST
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The Wausau Committee of the Whole says there will be more soil testing in between First Avenue and the Wisconsin River, just north of Thomas Street, in the Riverside Park area.

Members met Monday night to discuss a state toxicologist’s letter and whether or not the city will conduct more testing.

Dioxin exposure in the Riverside Park area of Wausau is unlikely to be harmful to people, according to a letter issued to city leaders by a toxicologist with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

The letter was sent in February in response to comments by an independent toxicologist from Virginia used by ‘Citizens for a Clean Wausau’ to investigate dioxin exposure risk in the area of Thomas Street from First Avenue to the Wisconsin River.

The independent toxicologist asked the state toxicologists to explain why they did not mention cancer risk in their initial report filed in May, 2018, that analyzed soil tests and found no significant health risk for residents or park users.

The letter, authored by state toxicologist Clara Jeong, states that adding the factor of cancer risk has not changed her original findings.

“The addition of the cancer risk assessment does not change our conclusion that the level of dioxins found in the soil is unlikely to cause harm to residents in the area,” said Jeong in the letter.

Jeong states however that the Department of Health Services recommends further testing to better understand the potential health impact in the community.

The industrial site located near 3M off Thomas Street is the former site of the Crestline Windows Factory where it’s alleged that a chemical called pentachlorophenol, or 'penta' was routinely spilled into the ground soil during window manufacturing from 1946 to 1986. The site is currently owned by Wauleco and has been subject to decades-long remediation to extract the chemical from the ground.

‘Citizens for a Clean Wausau’ wanted more testing done to make sure the soil near the industrial site is safe. Wauleco is going to take the lead on that testing.