Chemical Concentration Remains Stable For Whirlpool Neighbors

A new report shows groundwater contamination in the neighborhood north of the vacant Whirlpool plant in Fort Smith has remained stable over the past year. The report was submitted to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) by Environ, an environmental consulting firm, on behalf of Whirlpool Corp.

The chemical, trichloroethylene (TCE), leaked at the plant and spread north to the neighboring residences. TCE was used as a degreasing solvent at the plant between the late 1960s and early 1980s.

The report states the concentration of TCE on the Whirlpool property is decreasing, but neighbors living in the contaminated plume said this report does not ease their frustrations.

“So what?” asked neighbor Hal Smith. “It hasn’t disappeared either. I’m still in the center of the plume, my property values have still dropped, and I still can’t sell my property.”

Debbie Keith who also lives in the area is still skeptical.

“When this happened 30 years ago and you’re just finding out about it, how can you trust them?” she wondered.

Three lawsuits have been filed against Whirlpool seeking damages for harm caused by the leaked chemical.

Whirlpool submitted a clean-up plan to ADEQ in April. City officials and residents are awaiting ADEQ’s review of the plan.

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