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More contamination exposed at mall site
DNR reports filed last month show new contamination on the former Wausau Center mall
New reports from the Department of Natural Resources show contaminants not previously documented on the former Wausau Center mall site.
The documents come as the super developer, Wausau Opportunity Zone (a for-profit company registered as an LLC), is expected to announce updated plans for the site in a special Economic Development meeting this coming week. Rumors have been circulating that the mall redevelopment fell apart, but The Wausonian confirmed with sources close to the project that the rumor is false.
According to the documents submitted April 27 (Click on the pdf to see the whole report), detailed in a report by environmental engineering firm REI, the contamination was found between the J.C. Penney area of the former mall and HOM Furniture, adjacent to the Forest Street side. Listed contaminants found in the phase II environmental assessment conducted on March 2 of this year include polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons and tetrachloroethene.
Phase II environmental assessments include actual physical tests for contamination. Phase I assessments are essentially a gathering of all the tests and documents on a site so far.
The Wausonian reached out to Public Works Director Eric Lindman, who is listed as the point of contact for the responsible party. The Wausonian has not heard back.
Ald. Tom Kilian, who has been critical about the environmental aspects of the redevelopment project, provided this statement to The Wausonian:
Given that the second amendment to the agreement for the former mall that the council addressed this week included environmental components, I feel that this information and the recent test results should have been shared with the council when the data was first reported. I hope that, moving forward, this type of information is provided to the council in a more timely way -- or provided at all, for that matter. Had it not been for private research, I would not have even known about this issue and the new open ERP site.
The contamination site is new from contamination sources previously identified by WOZ and the DNR. The previous uses of land before they were demolished to make way for the mall project almost guaranteed there would be some kind of contamination on the site. Areas of potential contamination were identified on the mall site, and testing was necessary because contamination plumes tend to move over time. (Developers reworking the Stevens Point mall site found the same thing.)
Plans on WOZ’s website show a residential building of some kind planned for that area of the redevelopment, though developers pitching projects will ultimately determine what will go on the site.
The special Economic Development Committee meeting has not yet been scheduled on the city’s website as of the publication of this report. This report will likely come up and The Wausonian will report the details of that meeting when it happens.
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