Whirlpool, ADEQ Debate TCE Problem

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Whirlpool says they have conducted tests that show a toxic plume near the former Fort Smith plant is stable. But the Arkansas Department of Environmental Equality says otherwise.

Whirlpool re-examined the levels of Trichloroethylene and found that the plume has not expanded. However, Tammie Hynum, chief hazardous waste division director at ADEQ believes there is evidence of an expansion.

"On Aug. 1 of this year, ADEQ did issue a letter to Whirlpool,” she said. “We indicated in that letter that the southern boundary wells indicated an increase in the TCE concentration. We do think this is indicative of an expansion of the southern plume. We've requested that whirlpool please keep an eye on this situation."

A former Whirlpool employee of 35 years says he's frustrated with the company because his home value has tanked.

"It upset me, it really did,” said Raymond Flowers, who lives near the abandoned plant.  “Look what all I’ve done to my house. I have remodeled my house all the way around."

Another  neighbor who grew up in the area says she's ready to move and can't take living in the area much longer.

“The area is so contaminated, nobody wants to live here and this is where a group as a child,” said Sarah Winters. “I don't want to live here anymore, it's like a nightmare."

Many of the neighbors have complained of health issues and are awaiting the help of environmental activist Erin Brockovich.