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Dirt gets tested at Whirlpool Park

Tom Jackson • May 21, 2013 at 2:02 PM

Testing began Monday at the former Whirlpool Park in Green Springs.   

With Whirlpool spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to carry out testing at the park, the company’s leaders said they want employees and the Clyde community to know the company is doing the right thing, said Jeff Noel, Whirlpool’s vice president of communications and public affairs.

Erin Brockovich and the Arkansas Whirlpool officials are committed to dealing with facts and solid science, Noel said. 

As reporters watched from a nearby parking lot Monday, workers from two environmental companies used a machine to extract soil core samples, each about 3 inches in diameter, next to the park’s old shuffleboard court. 

Former swim park in Green Springs not the only PR challenge for Whirlpool. Get today's Register 

The former park is located just west of Ohio 19 and Shaw Road, which also is known as East County Road 181. The park is a short distance north of Green Springs. 

“They are estimating they’ll be here about a month,” said Fremont attorney Thomas Bowlus, who represents Jonathan Abdoo, who had planned to build at house on the site after buying the 27 acres from Whirlpool. 

Eventually, large drilling rigs will be brought in so that water monitoring wells 80 to 100 feet deep can be set up to learn if the groundwater is being contaminated, Bowlus said.

About 12 sampling monitoring wells will be installed and 350 soil samples will be taken. The samples will be sent to laboratories for testing, where scientists will look for 200 different types of compounds, Noel said. 

The lab test results should be available to the public by early fall, when the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA make the results public, Noel said. The testing is done under supervision of those two agencies. 

In limited tests done last year, analysts found PCBs and other chemicals.

“The regulatory agencies have made it clear there are no public health concerns on that site,” Noel said. “Let’s stick with the facts, the science.”

Last week, attorneys representing the Clyde Cancer Cluster families filed a class action lawsuit against Whirlpool in federal court in Toledo. They cited test results showing benzaldehyde in the dust in attics in several Clyde homes. 

Benzaldehyde is a common substance, so finding it in Clyde homes means little, Noel said.

“It’s found in everyone’s bathroom cabinet,” he said. “It’s in shaving cream. It’s in deodorant.”

Whirlpool has been in the community for about six decades, and perhaps that makes the company a target, Noel said. The company has about 3,000 employees at its Clyde plant, with many more Whirlpool retirees living in the area.

Last week, Alan Mortensen, an attorney for the cancer cluster families, said Whirlpool was not being factual when the company said it did not know how contaminants got in the soil at Whirlpool Park. Mortensen said he has witnesses who can testify to dumping at the park.

“I’ll say what we have said before,” Noel said. “We have no record and no information in which we knowingly approved anything being placed at that site.”

Bowlus said Abdoo had planned to build a house on the site this spring. Prior to learning about the contamination, he received approval to connect to the local rural water supply, as well as approval for other steps before building. 

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