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New results from Riverside Park show high levels of soil contamination

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Wausau, Wis. (WAOW) -- Nearly three months after the last round of soil testing on Riverside Park, the results are in.

They showed levels of dioxin nearly four times the standards set by the DNR.

"We keep learning a little and zooming in a little and learning a little more and zooming in a little more," said Pat Peckham, district one alderperson.

Dioxin is a byproduct of burning things, whether naturally or through industrial processes. According to the World Health Organization, nearly every living thing has had some kind of exposure to it.

"Sometimes we see it in burning of waste, sometimes near railroads," said Matt Thompson, a hydrogeologist with the DNR.

Depending on the level of exposure, it can have harmful health effects. Including on the immune system, development and reproductive system. These effects occur when it is frequently ingested or there is prolonged contact.

"Some of the levels in the park exceeded the cumulative cancer risk as well as the hazard risk based on state standards," said district three alderperson Tom Kilian.

Results also found the contamination spread a little farther than what was previously thought. While it is only contained to one area of the park, it is a place where kids play.

"There are concerns from residents in the neighborhood about these levels," Kilian said.

While officials say there's no immediate public health risks, they're working to alleviate those concerns.

"I think a more stringent approach is going to put everyone's minds at ease," Peckham said.

Now they're waiting for the DNR to analyze their test results and determine the next steps.

"I know it's been a long time, but we're working to do the right thing," Peckham said.

Natalie Sopyla

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