The families, including Wendy and Warren Brown, the parents of 11-year-old Alexa Brown who died of brain cancer in 2009, said in a statement late Tuesday night they're devastated a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigation found high levels of PCBs and toxic metals in the soil at Whirlpool Park.
The park, located at Township Road 187 and County Road 181 in Green Springs, was opened in the 1950s by Whirlpool Corp. as a recreation area for families. It had a pool in addition to basketball courts and a playground. The park has since closed. It is no longer owned by Whirlpool Corp.
Several parents of cancer cluster children have previously said they spent time at Whirlpool Park before it closed. The families announced they would gather for a press conference at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Clyde Public Library to discuss the findings.
"Obviously, it is upsetting to learn that such significant amounts of poison sludge are dumped anywhere. But to either dump it in proximity or cover it over with a children's park and a swimming pool filled with water coming from the very spot where the dumping occurred is an outrage," said Alan W. Mortensen, a victim's rights attorney retained by the cancer cluster families, in a statement. "It calls into question what really was at the other dump sites and other clues that were overlooked or not discovered until the U.S. EPA stepped in to determine the cause of this cancer cluster."
(UPDATE at 11:04 a.m.) Whirlpool has provided the following statement:
“We appreciate the concerns of the community. We have been members of this community for more than 60 years and employ thousands of local residents.
"Since being notified by the USEPA of their test results, Whirlpool has worked diligently and persistently with the current owner of this property, his lawyer and have even solicited the help of the USEPA to gain access to the site to conduct appropriate surveys and additional testing in partnership with the state and federal environmental agencies. However, the property owner and his lawyer have denied all of our requests for access to the site under reasonable conditions.
"We are hopeful that the voices of these families will encourage the property owner and his lawyers to allow Whirlpool onto the property to begin the site characterization in coordination with state and federal authorities. We are prepared to move forward immediately with the first steps of the evaluation once granted access to the property.”
For more on this story, pick up a copy of Wednesday's Register and read the U.S. EPA's report below.