BELLA VISTA (KFSM) — Air quality monitors were installed Thursday (Jan. 17) in Bella Vista to record particulate matter levels on a 24-hour cycle while an underground fire continues to smolder at a former stump dump.
The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) installed the monitors — one near the site at the fire station and another nearly three miles away at Cooper Elementary School — to analyze air quality.
Although state health officials have said the smoke emitting from the stump dump is polluting the air, there is no safety concern for students, teachers and employees at Cooper Elementary.
“We have had some concerned parents, and we have been working with (ADEQ) and they have devised a plan,” said Rachel Manus, a school official.
In December, 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, which is adjacent 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 (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 currently owns the property. However, neither Brown’s or Blue Mountain Storage, the previous owner, or the Bella Vista Property Owner’s Association appeared to have a permit from ADEQ to operate a disposal site.
The association’s Water Department installed a water line to provide water to the former stump dump site as part of ongoing remediation efforts spurred on by a an emergency deceleration from Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
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 email@example.com.