- Since 2001, Whirlpool has been working in conjunction with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) on issues related to trichloroethylene (TCE) at the former Whirlpool manufacturing facility.
- ADEQ has determined there are no complete pathways to exposure and thus no health risk to area residents. Due to the depth of groundwater, clay soil types in the area, and the fact that there are no groundwater drinking wells in the area, there are currently no complete exposure pathways that would create a risk to human health. Additionally, deed restrictions have been put in place to prohibit the installation of wells in the future.
- On December 27, 2013, ADEQ issued a Remedial Action Decision Document – or RADD – laying out the science-based remediation plan Whirlpool has been following to attack and remove TCE from the groundwater under and near the former Whirlpool manufacturing facility. A Revised RADD, dated November 15, 2015, was approved by ADEQ following extensive testing, research, and a review of public comments that determined the most effective method for addressing the TCE in the groundwater.
- Over the past 2.5 years, required and supplemental, voluntary remediation efforts have been conducted by Whirlpool and their environmental consultant, Ramboll Environ, in accordance with the December 2013 RADD and November 2015 revised RADD (RADDs), with continued oversight by ADEQ.
- Whirlpool followed a science-driven, Adaptive Remedy process – which involved the constant gathering, analyzing and validating of data to confirm and update the understanding of the groundwater and soil contamination on and near the former Whirlpool facility – to complete a number of required and supplemental, voluntary remediation activities at both on- and off-site locations.
- In 2014, remediation activities included:
- In-situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) injections in Areas 1, 2 and 3 to quickly reduce TCE concentrations in groundwater in these areas;
- Additional voluntary remediation activities, including targeted ISCO injections within the neck area, to facilitate further separation of the north and south plumes and the removal of substantial amounts of impacted soil in the source area;
- Quarterly monitoring of groundwater for VOCs and natural attenuation parameters; and
- The imposition of a deed restriction that prohibits the future installation of groundwater wells on the Whirlpool property.
- In 2015, Whirlpool’s remedial actions consisted of:
- ISCO injections in the supplemental neck area and Areas 2 and 3 to maintain and enhance further separation of the north and south plumes;
- An ISCR pilot test near the northeast portion of the north plume;
- Satisfactory, out-of-court settlements with local property owners within the originally proposed well drilling ban area related to the north groundwater plume to compensate them for any loss in property values, put in place appropriate deed restrictions to prevent inadvertent use of groundwater until ADEQ deems the groundwater cleanup program completed; and
- Further investigation and monitoring of soil, soil vapor and groundwater conditions both on- and off-site.
- In 2016, Whirlpool’s remedial actions consisted of:
- Voluntary remedial efforts to enhance and expand reductions in TCE concentrations in soil and groundwater at on-site and off-site locations;
- Collection of groundwater samples for the continued evaluation of the ISCO and ISCR efforts; and
- Indoor air and sub-slab vapor monitoring events within the Whirlpool building.
- Nothing in the findings over the last three years has changed the conclusion that there remains no health risk to Fort Smith residents from exposure to TCE in the groundwater beneath or near the Whirlpool property. These conclusions were further affirmed by a January 2016 Human Health Risk Assessment, which confirmed there are no health risks to area residents.
- It is also important to note that during this time period, Whirlpool reached settlement agreements with property owners in and around a proposed well drilling ban area within the vicinity of the former manufacturing facility and the 623,000 sq. ft. warehouse facility was acquired from Whirlpool by Spartan Logistics in 2015. Today, four companies are operating at that location employing over 300 individuals.
- The progress made by Whirlpool during the mutually agreed upon two-year remediation process in Fort Smith resulted in the completion of a series of on-site and off-site investigation and remediation activities and showed real progress in the cleanup of the site and off-site impacted areas. At the same time, Whirlpool has worked to rebuild trust with area residents, closely monitored the site to ensure no health risks exist, and made real strides toward repurposing the property for the benefit of the entire community.
- Whirlpool is now focusing on the future re-use of the property while continuing to monitor groundwater and soil vapor conditions on-site and at off-site locations, in full coordination with ADEQ. We are also pleased the recent auction of equipment from within the former facility sets the stage for prospective re-use and look forward to working with those groups who have shown interest in acquiring the building and property to put them to new, productive uses. Our company is committed to working with the Arkansas Economic Development Corporation, the City of Fort Smith and the Fort Smith Chamber of Commerce to move the property into productive reuse.
- Comprehensive future monitoring will be performed continuously in accordance with the Revised Groundwater Monitoring Plan as approved by ADEQ on September 26, 2016 (these documents are included on this website). The Revised Groundwater Monitoring Plan also establishes multiple triggering events, based upon future monitoring data, that – should they occur – will require Whirlpool to develop specific Action Plans to address changed or unexpected conditions that would warrant such attention. Potential scenarios could include: unanticipated expansion of groundwater plume boundaries; conditions that could pose potential human health risks (none of which exist today nor are such conditions expected or foreseeable, based on extensive data and modeling); or, significant rebound of contaminant concentrations in locations that have undergone remediation.
- If future data should trigger the need for any Action Plans, these plans would be submitted to ADEQ for its review and approval under the Revised Groundwater Monitoring Plan.
- Whirlpool is pleased that we have joined with ADEQ to develop this path forward that will verify projected plume moderation and direct responsive actions, if conditions warrant. Whirlpool Corporation is committed to continuing to work with the state and local community to responsibly address this site and move the property into productive reuse.
Whirlpool and ADEQ Continue To Address TCE Release
To read our 2016 Annual Report or any of our quarterly groundwater monitoring reports, please click here.