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Plans to change hazmat response delayed; Wausau extends current contract

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Hazmat Team Graphic
Hazmat Team Graphic

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) – Wausau city council members have agreed to extend a contract to provide Hazmat response to the state for another six months.

At issue is an attempt by Wisconsin Emergency Management to change the way that regional hazmat teams are organized and handled. Public health and safety chair Lisa Rasmussen says the changes could end up costing the city more money to run that team. “We'd be required to service a much larger area with substantially reduced funding.”

Under the proposed changes, the city would have only been allowed to send out 7 people to cover a incident, and fire chief Gary Buchburger went on record saying he wasn't sure if he felt safe doing that. The state has recommended that local municipalities join together to send out more people to scenes, but Wausau may not be able to get anyone for some time in the event of a major emergency.

Those proposed changes didn't pass at the state level, and WEM is taking the next six months to try and figure out how to make those plans work.

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