Whirlpool Submits Revised Clean-Up Plan to ADEQ

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Whirlpool has submitted an updated plan to deal with contamination at its closed Fort Smith plant site.

Environ on behalf of Whirlpool submitted the 'revised risk management plan' to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Monday (April 8).

The plan is to deal with the TCE pollution at the Fort Smith site. The chemical was used for about 14 years by Whirlpool as a degreaser at the plant and Whirlpool admits it has leaked from their property.

Fort Smith Mayor Sandy Sanders said he's glad a cleanup plan has been put down on paper.

"They've admitted it's their fault and they are going to take care of it until it's resolved," Sanders said. "So at least the first step is behind us now in that they have submitted their remediation plan. Will that be the final plan? I doubt it, but at least they're working toward a solution."

The 134 page report outlines the exposure risk and the company's goals.

“Based on the identified exposure pathways that require risk management from the HHRA, the corrective action objectives for the site are as follows:

  • Eliminate or reduce the lateral extent or concentration of the groundwater plume both off-site and on-site.
  • Eliminate or reduce the potential for unacceptable risk that may result if there are future changes in land or groundwater uses either off-site or on-site.
  • Eliminate or reduce to acceptable levels the risk from certain potential on-site groundwater contact exposures identified in the HHRA which could pose an unacceptable risk.”

However, the new plan doesn't say much about how the company plans to actually clean up the 30-year-old chemical spill, according to Bob Bowcock, an environmental activist who tested the groundwater contamination with Erin Brockovich in March.

"It's not a revised anything really and doesn't have any clean up goals or objectives whatsoever," Bowcock said. "It's basically saying condemn the properties and leave the pollution in place. That's not a solution at all."

Junior Winters, who has lived in the contaminated neighborhood for 20 years said he's frustrated with Whirlpool's cleanup plan, as well as the company's behavior throughout this entire process.

"With them spilling this chemical and trying to hide it from us folks, you know why can't they be a man about it and tell us 'hey, we made a mistake' in the next day or two instead of waiting twelve years from the last spill?" Winters asked.

In a written statement Tuesday night, Whirlpool stated that it remains "committed to managing this situation in an open and responsible manner."

Click here to read the full 'revised risk management plan.'

For more coverage of the contamination and clean-up process, click here.