Whirlpool Neighbors File Lawsuits

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Whirlpool is now facing two lawsuits after growing concern about a chemical spill near the company's former Fort Smith plant.

Neighbors and property owners who live just across the street from the Whirlpool site filed the lawsuits Thursday (May 23) seeking restitution for property damages.

Raymond Flowers has lived on Jacobs Street for the past 35 years. For the majority of it, he worked at Whirlpool and retired just before the plant shut down.

Now Flowers is among those suing the company because of declining property values.

“I'm worried if, well, they may take everything away from me, too, if that plume is around here,” Flowers said. “I'm afraid they might want to buy us all out and I don't want to be bought out. I want to live here.”

Little Rock attorney Ross Noland filed the lawsuits in the Sebastian County Circuit Court on behalf of several residents and landlords.

Residents are hoping to hold Whirlpool responsible for a toxic spill that occurred decades ago, according to Noland.

"Both of them seek money damages as a result of environmental contamination from the TCE plume which is emanating from the former Whirlpool facility there in Fort Smith,” he said.

Whirlpool officials declined to interviews on camera. But released a written statement: “We will review the claims of these lawsuits regarding property values once we receive them, and plan to vigorously defend ourselves. We continue to work with the ADEQ to finalize a remediation plan and monitor the situation to reassure Fort Smith residents that they have not been exposed to TCE.”

Whirlpool is working with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to develop a cleanup plan. The company says the chemical spill does not pose a threat to anyone in the area.

Noland says Whirlpool has 30 days to submit a response to the lawsuits.