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Womack Seeks Increased Support For Stump Dump Fire

Smoldering fire near Trafalgar Road in Bella Vista at a former dump stump site.

BELLA VISTA, Ark. (KFSM) — Congressman Steve Womack is reaching out for federal support to put out the stump dump fire in Bella Vista

Womack has asked the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) to review possible federal resources available to assist Bella Vista in extinguishing the fire on Trafalgar Road.

“I want to ensure the state of Arkansas has access to any and all resources – funding, experts logistic – that might be available to them through the federal government,” said Womack.

This week Congressman Womack sent a letter to EPA and FEMA to request information on what federal resources might be available to support emergency action plans related to resolving the fire.

The letter specifically asks what additional help federal agencies could possibly provide to assist Bella Vista residents and cites concerns with ongoing health hazards and the severity of the situation.

Here is the full letter:

Please be informed of my deepest concern for the citizens of Bella Vista, Arkansas, as they continue to live with the ramifications of a large fire underneath the Trafalgar Road stump dump initially reported on July 29, 2018.  Situated within a residential area, the impacts of the smoke and particulate matter have been significant.  We have residents voluntarily evacuating because the smoke is so bad.  My office was informed by one resident late last week that her recent CT scan was positive for a nodule in her lungs, and she has a follow up appointment scheduled with a pulmonologist.  Additionally, I was informed by Mayor Peter Christie today that a child is being treated at Arkansas Children’s Northwest for health issues the parents attribute to smoke from the fire.  There are additional reports of respiratory concerns being made by residents.

With previous air quality monitoring conducted by the EPA showing elevated benzene levels on-site and the anecdotal information from residents who are showing negative health effects from inhaling air in the vicinity of the stump dump, it is clear to me that this incident needs to be remediated as quickly as possible.  The State of Arkansas recently received a report from the contractor it brought in to assess the fire and develop recommendations.  This report indicated the cost to extinguish the fire and remediate the site could reach into a range of $28-$37 million.  The costs associated with addressing this incident are much higher than what was anticipated.  If it is at all possible to utilize federal resources to help the State of Arkansas expedite the implementation of a solution that extinguishes the fire and remediates the site, I encourage your agency to engage with state officials on how those resources can be utilized.  I want to ensure the State of Arkansas has access to any and all resources – funding, experts, logistics – that might be available to them through the federal government.

I appreciate all the EPA has done to-date to assist with this issue.  The actions previously undertaken have been helpful to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, the lead state agency working on this issue.  We have now reached a critical point in the process to assist the residents of Bella Vista, extinguish the fire and remediate the site.  I am copying Mr. Tony Robinson, Regional Administrator for FEMA Region 6, so his agency has awareness of this incident should there be anything FEMA can do to assist the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management.  Urgency truly exists, and I look forward to hearing how the federal government can partner with the State of Arkansas in all facets to resolve this issue.

Sincerely,

Steve Womack
Member of Congress

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