BELLA VISTA (KFSM) — Trafalgar Road was closed this week while crews installed a water line to provide water to the former stump dump site that's causing health concerns in the area.
The Bella Vista Property Owners Association Water Department is providing the water line as part of the ongoing efforts to mitigate a smoldering fire that's been burning underneath the stump dump since July.
The installation is at the request of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), who, alongside the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM), is overseeing the project.
Last week, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed an emergency declaration aimed at cutting through red tape to "render maximum assistance" for ADEQ and ADEM.
The city of Bella Vista has set up a website to track the progress of the fire. Residents can direct questions regarding assistance needs or other questions to Donnally Davis at ADEQ by calling 501-682-0889 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this month, health officials declared the air around the property 'unhealthy' and urged residents to avoid prolonged exposure to the area.
A widely used industrial chemical, benzene was detected at .022 parts-per-million within the boundaries of the former stump dump.
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 (ADH).
However, the EPA doesn't consider this an immediate health concern because it doesn't exceed the two-week to seven-year exposure screening level of .03 ppm.
Brown's Tree Care owns the property, which is catercorner to Trafalgar and Kingsland roads.
Neither Brown's Tree Care or Blue Mountain Storage, the previous owner, appeared to have a permit from ADEQ to operate a disposal site.
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.
ADEQ also ordered the POA to close another stump dump on the west side of town earlier this year.
Residents have said there's evidence the dump contains remnants of discarded construction materials, including concrete and fiberglass.
Hutchinson said last month the potential for any liability issues related to dumping and burning at the site will be addressed at a later date.