Air Quality Tests Show Low Level Of Chemical At Former Stump Dump

BELLA VISTA (KFSM) — Air quality test results from a smoldering underground fire at a former stump dump revealed low levels of a Volatile Organic Compound, according to the state Department of Health.

None of the samples collected offsite showed any signs of VOCs or Semi-Volatile Orgainc Compounds (SVOCs), and officials believe the general public isn’t at risk of exposure to dangerous chemicals in the air.

Benzene, a widely used industrial chemical, was found at 30 parts per billion (ppb) within the boundaries of the former stump dump, which is catercorner to Trafalgar and Kingsland roads.

Benzene can cause serious health effects if “a person is exposed to it either in high doses (a lot of it) or over a long amount of time,” according to the Arkansas Department of Health.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has set exposure limits of 1000 ppb for eight-hour shifts during 40-hour work weeks.

ADH has notified Brown’s Tree Care, the owner of the stump dump, on how to protect employees against exposure to benzene.

However, health officials noted smoke has been reported in the area, and even without high levels of VOCs in the smoke, breathing it in may cause eye and respiratory tract (throat, chest and nose) discomfort and irritation.

ADH is working with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to continue sampling both within the site and outside of it, for air quality chemicals.

The fire has been smoldering since July. The Bella Vista Fire Department has said there’s no safe way to put out the fire, which is burning deep underground.

Officials are monitoring the site and have asked residents to stay away. The city of Bella Vista has set up a website to track the progress of the fire.

Last week, a Bella Vista family sued Brown’s Tree Care for lost wages, accusing them of creating a public health hazard after they allegedly failed to extinguish a burning brush pile on the property.

The stump dump was leased by the Bella Vista Property Owners Association from 2008 to 2016.

It was used as a collection area for residents’ stumps, brush and leaves. The POA closed the stump dump down in 2016 after it reached capacity.

Recently, residents said they’ve found evidence the dump contains remnants of discarded construction materials, including concrete and fiberglass.

The POA also closed another stump dump on the west side of town after an order came down from ADEQ.