Environmental, Lee Stedman, Wausau

Local Watchdogs: Citizens for a Clean Wausau

Out of concern for current environmental challenges and a lack of government action against potentially harmful projects in their area, an intergenerational mix of volunteers from throughout Wausau have come together in solidarity.

Citizens for a Clean Wausau formed in 2018, adopting the mantle of “citizen watchdogs,” and stressing the need to maintain an observant eye over former and current polluters in the Wausau area. The group operates through a steadfast dedication towards promoting local action through a thorough commitment to research, communication, and education. [1]

Most notably is the group’s steadfast dedication to exposing soil, air and groundwater pollution linked to Thomas Street’s infamous Wauleco Site:

  •  On January 21st a report released information indicating sewer samples taken on January. 8th by the Wausau Water Works, revealed wastewater contamination by pentachlorophenol in four of six manholes on the city’s west side. Residents have repeatedly expressed concern over the state of soil and groundwater toxicity. [2]
  • Penta is toxic to human health, leading to impacts on the kidneys, liver, eyes, skin, respiratory tract, and immune system through short-term ingestion and acute inhalation. [2]
  • On February 26th, Citizen’s for a Clean Wausau issued a request to the DNR for further testing to be done on the manholes in the area of the Thomas Street neighborhood. [3]
  • On March 11th Citizen’s for a Clean Wausau was commended by members of the DNR and DHS during a Wausau Parks & Rec meeting for the vital role their documentation and research on improper wood burning by SNE Corp and Wauleco has played in their investigations. [4]

Despite investigations, on June 18th, Citizen’s for a Clean Wausau released a video exposing illegal drainage into the Wisconsin River by private contractors working in the Thomas Street area. The issue was immediately addressed by the Wausau Public Works. However, the next day, evidence of illegal drainage was again found. [5]

You can stay up to date with Citizens for a Clean Wausau by following them on Facebook.


Written for Intellegere Project by: Lee Stedman


References:

[1] http://cleanwausau.com/

[2] https://www.wsaw.com/content/news/DNR-opens-investigation-into-Wauleco-owned-site-in-Wausau-504514481.html

[3] http://cleanwausau.com/citizens-for-a-clean-wausau-submits-request-to-dnr-for-more-manhole-testing/

[4] https://wausaupilotandreview.com/2019/03/11/dhs-dnr-citizens-group-input-crucial-to-riverside-park-recommendations/

[5] https://waow.com/news/2019/06/24/runoff-into-the-wisconsin-river-from-thomas-street-construction-is-raising-concerns/

Environmental, Lee Stedman

Community or Con: The Foxconn Manufacturing Crisis

Since being contracted in 2017 to receive more than $4 billion in incentive packages from the state of Wisconsin, Foxconn, a global LCD manufacturing giant, has garnered a great deal of local and national notoriety due to concerns over its potential environmental, economic and political impacts.

Over the last several months, skepticism over the original deal’s promises has continued to grow amidst a series of recent—and controversial—updates on the project, located in Mt. Pleasant, WI just off the I-94:

  • On April 17th Foxconn CEO, Terry Gou, announced that he would be stepping down from his position in Foxconn in order to focus on a recently announced campaign bid for Presidency of Taiwan. [1] Gou took part in the original negotiations of the deal alongside President Donald Trump and Gov. Scott Walker. [2]
  • Land seizures implemented to drive the creation of Wisconn Valley have left hundreds of acres of farmland cleared and more than 70 homes removed. Of the original residents, only homeowners, Kim and Jim Mahoney, and an unnamed farmer remain. [2]
  • Newly released emails acquired by the non-profits, Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin, illustrate concern and opposition between top EPA scientists over a 2018 decision made by former EPA head, Scott Pruitt, to lessen and waive federal smog regulations. The decision has thus-far saved Foxconn and several other companies millions in pollution-control requirements. [3] [4]
  • On June 10th, a Wisconsin state administrative judge ruled in favor of the City of Racine’s request to divert millions of gallons of water from Lake Michigan for Foxconn’s manufacturing processes and other unspecified residential uses. The original request was challenged on behalf of several environmental groups by the Midwest Environmental Advocates. [5]

Despite growing fear in Foxconn’s current construction plans and leadership, many residents in Racine County remain hopeful in the promise to create 13,000 Wisconsin-based jobs.


Written for Intellegere Project by: Lee Stedman


References

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/17/world/asia/terry-gou-foxcon-taiwan-presidential-race.html

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/foxconn-tore-up-a-small-town-to-build-a-big-factorythen-retreated-11556557652

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/24/climate/epa-pruitt-wisconsin-foxconn.html

[4] https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-met-foxconn-indiana-smog-trump-epa-20190516-story.html

[5] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2019/06/10/judge-rules-favor-racines-bid-provide-water-foxconn/1414171001/