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Contamination worries property owners

Tom Jackson • Dec 11, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Renee and Herb Farley thought they had a lovely, isolated location for their home, right next to the former Whirlpool Park.

And then they learned the park is apparently contaminated.

After their dogs died mysteriously and they heard the park had PCBs, a substance that causes cancer, they switched from well water to bottled water for cooking and drinking. They began asking for their property to be tested.

They’re still asking. Their property is the only home that directly abuts the park, which is on the other side of a fence. And they don’t understand why Whirlpool was willing to take hundreds of samples for testing in the park, and no samples on the Farley property.

Renee said she’s scared.

“We have to sit here and wonder, is he going to get sick? Am I going to get sick?” she said. “We don’t feel like it’s safe to live here”

The Farley home is in the 1800 block of Township Road 187, right next to the former park.

When Herb Farley bought it in 2006, the pool had closed but parts of the company-owed park remained open, Renee said. Later, the park closed completely, and Jonathan Abdoo bought it, intending to build a home there.

In 2012, the U.S. EPA, acting on a tip from a hotline, carried out initial tests on the former park and found PCBs and heavy metals there. Abdoo halted his construction plans and, after negotiations between his attorney and attorneys for Whirlpool, it was agreed Whirlpool would take hundreds of soil and water samples on the site in 2013.

“Prior to their finding that, we had lost two dogs,” said Renee, 51.

One dog was 6 years old and the other was 5 years old.

“One minute they were OK,” she said. “The next minute, they’re acting lethargic”

Each of the dogs was found dead, one after the other, she said.

This year, an inside dog, 10 years old, also became sick and died. The couple has lost three dogs in three years.

After plans for the testing were announced, Renee said she asked if her property could be tested, too. She spoke to an EPA official, who told her the request would be passed on to Whirlpool.

“I never got any phone calls from Whirlpool at all,” she said. “Whirlpool never contacted me”

U.S. EPA spokesman Joshua Singer did not respond to messages left on his phone Friday and Monday, but Whirlpool spokeswoman Kristine Vernier issued a statement.

She said Whirlpool’s testing was carried out under the supervision of the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA, which approved the company’s testing plan.

“All sampling and testing was conducted in accordance with the Phase II Work Plan approved in April 2013 by the U.S. EPA and the OEPA” Vernier said.

The results of the tests ought to reassure the Farleys, as they showed no evidence that local water is being contaminated, Vernier said.

“As you are aware, a total of 328 groundwater, surface water, soil, sediment and pool filter samples were taken and tested for 232 chemical compounds. The testing found no health risk and no evidence of hazardous illegal dumping. In particular, no PCBs or other man-made chemicals were detected in groundwater samples taken from monitoring wells throughout the property,” she said.

The Farleys are plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against Whirlpool by Alan Mortensen, a Utah attorney. Both sides are awaiting a ruling by U.S. District Judge James Carr on Whirlpool’s motion to dismiss the suit.

Mortensen insisted recently the result of the EPA’s testing shows dangerous chemicals in the former Whirlpool Park. PCBs, a dangerous carcinogen, were found in levels well above what the EPA considers acceptable, Mortensen said.

Benzo(a)pyrene, which causes cancer, was found in a concentration 86 times the accepted EPA level. High levels of three other suspected carcinogens, Benzo(a)anthracene, Benzo(b)flouranthene and Indeno(1,2,3-cd)pyrene, also were found in large amounts, Mortensen said.

The chemicals such as benzo(a)pyrene referred to by Mortensen are known as PAHs or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and authorities already have decided their presence in the Clyde area is no big deal, Vernier replied.

“First, these elevated levels are typical of urban soils and are commonly found in areas that have been used to burn trash and or used for outdoor barbecues. Second, PAHs stick firmly to soil, so you would have to actually eat or inhale the soil at high levels daily for an extremely long period of time to be exposed. Third, at levels found, the amount of benzo(a)pyrene was not above public health guidelines for overall cancer risks” Vernier said.

Whirlpool and Abdoo’s attorney are discussing what Whirlpool needs to do to clean up the Whirlpool Park property.

Renee said she wants the property cleaned up to meet residential standards, but she still wants her property tested, too, to see if she and her husband are in any danger.

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