Fort Smith Rejects Attorney’s Offer To Fine Whirlpool

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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.


  • south of the border money

    Wow!..just like that the city leaders say “sorry we can’t help you folks, you have to hire your own lawyer”..I wonder if any money went under the table? You never know these days? Either way, another dead location in good ol’ Fort Smith.

  • B

    I have family personally experiencing cancer from working in that factory and know of many others! They lost their insurance and are having to pay for all of this out of pocket in fact he was in surgery again today to get his colostomy bag back. His mother also died from cancer due to the contaminants. This whole thing is horrific and no one hears about it.

  • Lucy

    Rumor has it that Mayor Sanders threatened the city directors and told them they better vote against it. I admire Phillip Merry and Pam Weber for standing up and voting for what they believe in. And the city could have legally purchased these properties with the monies collected from Whirlpool. That was also discussed at the meeting. To me Mayor Sanders should have to take a step back in these case since he is a former Whirlpool employee. There’s a conflict of interest there.

    • arnold fudpucker

      Good point. They, Whirlpool, are probably still paying his pension. Sure hope there is a good candidate to run against him. There has been constant controversy surrounding him from day one as mayor.

  • Frank D

    I see that Kevin Settle voted against it. Does that surprise anyone? But he did vote for a waterpark and a tax increase….glad we have our priorities straight…

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