Fort Smith Rejects Attorney’s Offer To Fine Whirlpool

Fort Smith leaders have decided not to fine Whirlpool over contamination at the company’s old plant. Whirlpool closed down in 2012.

Ward one director, Keith Lau, said had the city pursued the case and won, any money they got would have to go in the cities general fund and not be used to reimburse residents in the area effected by the contamination.

“Jerry Canfield didn’t think that we would have a very good chance at getting those fines and taking it through court so that was another reason that we didn’t think that was a good way to go,” Lau said.

Jerry Canfield, City Attorney, and the board of directors thought this decision out carefully according to Lau.  Neighbors like Laretha Plunkett are not pleased with the cities decision.

“They don’t have any idea what we’ve been through and I’ve been through it longer than anyone else,” Plunkett said.

Plunkett has lived near the old Whirlpool plant since 1955. She and other residents in the neighborhood filed a civil lawsuit against Whirlpool. Lau said civil lawsuits are the only chance residents have to receive money for what they’ve endured.

At- Large Director Phillip Merry was one of the two votes in favor of enforcing the fines against whirlpool. Merry said there is an ordinance in place and it should be upheld. The vote failed 5-2.

Lau said Whirlpool has a remediation plan in place that should remove all of the contaminates out of the ground by 2016.

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