Whirlpool Executives Give Update on Site To Board of Directors

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FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- The Whirlpool refrigeration production building in Fort Smith shut down in 2012 after 45 years of operation.

Since that time Whirlpool has performed clean up of trichloroethylene or TCE, a chemical agent the company stopped using in the 80's after it was deemed unsafe.

Residents who live around the site were compensated for the depreciation of their property value.

"A lot of people around here are moving out and trying to sell their houses and can't," said J.R. Winters, a resident who lives across the street from the building.

Winters said continued testing is still being done under his lawn. He said he is worried about the effect it may have had.

"So many people have died around here with cancer. You know?" Winters said.

Tuesday (April 11) Whirlpool executives addressed the Fort Smith Board of Directors on the process of the Whirlpool building site.

"We've had a holistic approach at settling with all of the property owners, making sure that we created well drilling and compensated the property owners in a fair way.  I think it was also a matter of the testing we have done over the years to validate there is no pathways. There is no public health concerns," said Jeff Noel, Whirlpool V.P. of communications and public affairs

Noel told the board of directors the Whirlpool site was sold to Phoenix Investors in February.

"My understanding is that Phoenix is hosting some sort of event here in the near future." Noel said.

Noel also told the board members if the new owners plan to do any construction on the site of demolition it will have to go through the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

Whirlpool will still be responsible for any clean up and monitoring of the contamination. They also said they will report to the ADEQ twice a year.