Whirlpool announced that the company has reached a resolution with property owners in a class-action lawsuit, according to a news release from the company.
The class-action lawsuit was in relation to contaminated groundwater near the former Whirlpool manufacturing facility in Fort Smith.
"As part of Whirlpool’s ongoing commitment to the residents of Fort Smith, this agreement will fairly compensate property owners, and enable both the residents and the company to focus on meeting the goals of the current remediation effort," the release states.
With the support of the Fort Smith City Directors and the oversight of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, Whirlpool will push ahead with the remediation activities and redevelopment of the Whirlpool property, according to the release.
The resolution details are:
- Property owners inside the area bounded by Ingersoll Ave, Brazil Ave., Jenny Lind Rd., and Ferguson St. will receive either an amount equal to the devaluation estimated by the County assessor or the devaluation as determined by an independent property appraiser.
- Class members outside this area will receive $5,000, and possibly more in the future, if TCE is detected above threshold levels in groundwater beneath their property.
- Property owners agree to allow access to their property for testing and remediation activities, record a deed restriction prohibiting new wells on their property, and release Whirlpool from property damage claims.
- Each class member will receive formal notice of the resolution, as well as an opportunity to opt out of the agreement.
- A federal Court will be required to approve the agreement.
- Whirlpool has agreed to pay court approved fees and costs incurred by the class members.
"The agreement covers current owners of property devalued in 2013 by the County Tax Assessor for tax assessment purposes as a result of groundwater contamination from trichlorethylene (TCE) released at the former Whirlpool manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, as well as some properties near the facility whose tax value assessment did not change," the release states.
Environmental activist Erin Brockovich came to Fort Smith and spoke with nearly 300 people on March 26 about contaminated groundwater following the chemical spill at the Whirlpool plant.
The TCE leaked from 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.
Multiple lawsuits were filed against Whirlpool seeking damages for harm caused by the leaked chemical.