New Plan Proposed for Whirlpool Contamination Cleanup

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A plan is being developed to help control a chemical leak that happened years ago near the Whirlpool plant in Fort Smith.

The trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination near Jenny Lind Road and Jacobs Avenue will be treated with a neutralizer to reduce the chemical concentration, according to officials.

Originally, Whirlpool made an agreement with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality to allow the chemical to decompose naturally.

With the new proposal, pipes would be put in the ground to reach the TCE, then an oxidation chemical would be injected at high pressure into the soil to stop the TCE from spreading.

Despite these plans for decontamination, some in town say they’re not a fan of this idea.

“That's unrealistic to expect the oxygenation to work and to dissolve those chemicals that are below us,” said Debbie Keith. “If they were able to do that, how come the oxygenation can't come back up? If they can go down with oxygen, why can’t they come back up through the vapor intrusion, which they say were not going to be exposed to."

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich, who took an interest in the contamination earlier in the year, is expected to return to the area this month, according to residents of the affected neighborhood.

For more coverage of the contamination and cleanup, click here.