City Times Staff
Wisconsin Public Service will soon begin a cleanup of the Wisconsin River riverbed near Downtown Stevens Point.
An informational meeting on the cleanup will be held in the Pinery Room of the Portage County Public Library on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at 6 PM.
Crews will close part of Pfiffner Park beginning in early October for the project, which will remove dirt and mud contaminated with petroleum- based remnants of a coal gassification plant operated by WPS. That plant closed around 1940.
Brian Bartoszek, remediation and waste manager for WPS said the contaminants aren’t harmful to humans, and those who have going swimming, boating or fishing aren’t in immediate danger, and neither are the birds or fish that rely on the waterway.
Bartoszek said the microscopic organisms that live in the river sediment are adversely affected by the contamination. If those organisms can’t thrive, it affects the food chain for fish and birds.
Pedestrian and public use of the park should reopen completely by the end of November.
The plant had been located adjacent to the south end of Pfiffner Pioneer Park, was near the site of a former manufactured gas plant. The land portion of this site was cleaned of contaminants in 1998.
Nearby residents and businesses have been contacted and are aware of WPS’s plans.
Residents who cannot attend can contact Bartoszek at (920) 433-2643 with questions.