Welcome to the Wauleco website. The fact that you are here probably means you are looking for additional information on the environmental clean-up efforts at our property at 125. E. Rosecrans in Wausau. We understand and want to be a reliable, informative resource for you.
Now, our goal here is not to provide a slanted perspective, or to dispute news articles you may have read. We simply hope to offer clarity through documented facts.
We recognize the immeasurable value our natural resources—our soil, our waters, our trees and wildlife—bring to this community. The waters and woods of central Wisconsin existed long before we did, and collectively, we need to act as stewards and caretakers. That’s why, dating back to 1984, we’ve been working diligently on the cleanup of the property. We’ve worked with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) every step of the way, as well as the City of Wausau, investing tens of millions of dollars into the project. Deploying effective cleanup technologies, much of the contaminates have been recovered and removed from the property but more work remains to be done. Our cleanup efforts will continue until we can return the site to a place of purpose and benefit to the community.
On this website, you’ll find relevant public documents pertaining to the work we have done with industry-leading environmental experts the past three decades. We’ve also created an event timeline, and an FAQ section, where you may find the answers you are looking for. In addition, you can find our latest news release on testing results here, and the corresponding report here.
We thank you for your interest, and your sincere dedication to the well-being of the Wausau community. We’re right there with you.
Wauleco has been working closely with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) to investigate and clean up the site since the mid-1980s. Over that time, Wauleco has collected nearly 500 soil samples from about 150 soil borings at the site, drilled and sampled more than 70 groundwater monitoring wells, and installed more than 30 groundwater extraction wells to remove groundwater from beneath the site and clean it up.
Though more work remains to be done, the remediation system Wauleco installed at the site has been very successful at recovering contamination.
Wauleco prepares frequent remediation system performance reports for WDNR. We also:
We continue to work closely with WDNR, and explore new remediation technologies as we evaluate long-term goals for the site. We are committed to remediating the site and will keep WDNR informed every step of the way. Please refer to the calendar of activities so you too are well informed of what is going on at the site.
Here's a closer look at the treatment system process flow.
Pentachlorophenol (PCP) is a man-made chemical which was once one of the most widely used pesticides in the country. PCP was used as a pesticide and wood preservative. PCP is still in use today, but is now a “restricted-use” pesticide that may only be applied by licensed applicators approved by the State. It is no longer available for sale to or use by the general public.
PCP is still used today as an industrial wood preservative in things such as utility poles, railroad ties, and wharf pilings.
PCP was contained within a commercially available wood treatment product that was used at the Wauleco facility. It was known as Woodtox and was manufactured by Koppers Corporation. The Woodtox product contained about 5% PCP. The PCP-containing Woodtox material was surface-applied to the wood window products.
Because the PCP is deep beneath the ground (up to 30 feet deep), remedial treatment options for the site are limited. It has been difficult to recover this material from this deep in the ground, but Wauleco has been successful in recovering a lot of it—and those efforts continue. Wauleco continues to evaluate new technologies as they become available, in an effort to remove the remaining product more efficiently.
What’s in those small, white houses on the property?
The white houses or small sheds you can see on the site are referred to as pump houses. They provide protection from the weather for on-site recovery wells that operate as part of our groundwater recovery and treatment system. Those wells pump water out of the ground some 25 or more feet below the surface, which is then piped to our treatment system. Without those sheds, the electrical controls on the well pumps would be exposed to the elements and may cause operational issues.
A single, deeper sanitary sewer line (called an interceptor sewer) has been shown to have PCP in the sewage being transported to the City’s treatment plant for treatment. This is not the water that is supplied by the City for drinking or other uses. It does appear that this City sewer line has cracks; however, Wauleco is working closely with the City to help identify where there may be openings in that City sewer line that could let in some of the PCP dissolved in groundwater. We’re hopeful this can be remedied in the near future.
Not at this site. We have investigated whether vapors could be a concern here and our investigation has consistently concluded that the soils in the area of our site have enough oxygen present that vapor build-up is not a concern, and the DNR agrees with us. In addition, it is important to point out that PCP is not a volatile chemical and will not move as a vapor. We recently assessed this again and a report of our conclusions and DNR’s agreement is available here.
The term “dioxins” generally refers to a certain group of chemicals created inadvertently as a by-product of a number of human activities. These compounds can be created during the course of chemical manufacturing, incomplete combustion, vehicle exhaust, backyard burning, forest fires, and volcanic eruptions. In chemistry, these materials are referred to as chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (CDDs) and chlorinated dibenzofurans (CDFs).
Yes. Dioxins are ubiquitous in an urban environment and there are many potential sources of dioxin-producing activities in the neighborhood. Expert toxicologists from the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services studied the sampling results to date and have concluded that there is no apparent health hazard for people using Riverside Park and residents living in the Thomas Street neighborhood. They have also recommended that further sampling be conducted to confirm their conclusions.
Waste wood was previously burned at the Wauleco site to provide heat and steam. Because wood burning can be a source of dioxins, WDNR asked Wauleco to look into this and perform additional sampling. WDNR has made the same request of three other entities in the neighborhood that also operated incinerators or smokestacks. Wauleco conducted the sampling in August 2019 and recently reported the data results to WDNR and the City of Wausau. That report can be found here. The data shows that none of the samples collected from what would most likely have come from Wauleco’s historic wood burning exceeded state standards. Also, all results were below the levels previously analyzed by state toxicologists, who have concluded that there is no apparent health hazard.
Furthermore, on November 13, 2019, the expert toxicologists from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (WDHS) shared an updated health risk assessment concerning dioxins in light of the Wauleco soil sampling results. Major conclusions from the report are the following:
The entire report can be downloaded here.
We are all exposed to dioxins. Over 90 percent of human exposure to dioxins comes through food, mainly animal products such as dairy products, meat, fish, and shellfish. Based on what we know currently, state toxicologists have concluded that the levels of dioxin they have studied on neighborhood soils are not an apparent public health hazard.