DNR Issues Responsible Party Letter to 3M for Arsenic Soil Contamination Near Thomas Street

Responsible Party Letter from DNR is Dated February 26, 2021

According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) online database, 3M Company – whose facility is located at 144 Rosecrans Street in Wausau – received a Responsible Party letter from the DNR on February 26, 2021 stating that information the department received indicated that 3M is “responsible for the discharge of a hazardous substance or other environmental pollution” on the former CN/WCL Railroad Track property, two lots of which run along Thomas Street.

Per the Site Investigation Work Plan (SIWP) by 3M’s consultant, Arcadis, there was a property transaction completed between 3M and Canadian National Railway in November 2020, making 3M the current owner of the site.

Arsenic Soil Exceedance in 3M Lot Bordering 1300 Cleveland Avenue

Results tables and sample location maps included in the Arcadis SIWP demonstrate where arsenic levels in soil exceed state regulatory standards. Both lots with arsenic soil exceedances run along Thomas Street, and one of the lots with an exceedance at the SB-05 sample location borders 1300 Cleveland Avenue, a city-owned property in which arsenic soil levels exceeding regulatory standards were recently identified.

The analysis from the SB-05 soil sample, whose location is in extremely close proximity to 1300 Cleveland Avenue, also identified PCBs and Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, among other contaminants.

Strong Public Backlash Against Any 3M Expansion in the Largely Residential Area

3M is pursuing expansion at 1300 Cleveland Avenue for its rail operations, but its expansion plans have generated a massive public outcry. Neighborhood residents, as well as those from the community at large, have lined up in great numbers in opposition to the 3M expansion, publicly condemning it in both written submissions to Wausau’s municipal government and verbal comments at its meetings.

A campaign opposing the expansion proclaimed that 3M “has polluted the residential neighborhood enough already.”

3M pushed to keep 1300 Cleveland Avenue zoned industrial – zoning which occurred due to a zoning map error – but scores of residents came out in opposition to 3M’s position, and the property zoning was corrected and zoned back to residential in an 11-0 vote.

At a recent municipal government meeting, 3M Company was referred to as a “serial polluter,” in part, due to the number of spills and BRRTS listings in the WDNR online database.

Arcadis, 3M’s current consultant, has provided environmental consulting services to 3M Company in Wausau before, as can be noted in records related to 3M’s residual petroleum contamination in the soil of Riverside Park — residual petroleum contamination that drew strong scrutiny and criticism from the public and local environmentalists.