More testing planned at stump dump
EPA scheduled to collect air samples at burning Bella Vista site next week
BELLA VISTA — The federal Environmental Protection Agency will collect more air samples next week in connection with a stump dump fire, according to an agency news release.
The underground fire along Trafalgar Road is on a site where the Bella Vista Property Owners Association operated a stump dump for about 13 years. Fire Department personnel said the fire may be burning more than 50 or 60 feet underground.
Fire Chief Steve Sims previously said firefighters were initially dispatched to the area July 29, where they spotted smoke and what appeared to be the remains of a brush fire. The property is owned by Brown’s Tree Care.
There were no controlled burns listed in the dispatch log, he said, and the property owner denies burning brush.
Mayor Peter Christie and Sims met via phone to discuss the issue Tuesday with U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., 3rd District Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, Becky Keogh with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, and Anne Idsal, Troy Lyons and David Gray with the EPA, said Cassi Lapp, city spokeswoman, on Friday.
The EPA will collect more air samples, including particulates, next week. The data gathered will help scientists and decision-makers better determine if the stump dump contains dangerous chemicals. EPA sampling is
scheduled to begin Monday and will include three days of sampling. The EPA expects to receive the sampling data Dec. 21, according to a news release issued Thursday from Gray, the deputy regional administrator for EPA Region 6. The region includes Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.
The EPA collected 24-hour air samples from five locations around the Brown Tree Service property Oct. 1 and Nov. 10. The agency tested for hundreds of chemicals associated with landfill fires potentially containing construction debris, household waste or tires. None of the air samples showed elevated concentrations of chemicals of concern in the community, the release stated.
The EPA also collected samples from a location on the Brown Tree Service property and found a low level of benzene on Nov. 10, according to the release. The American Cancer Society says benzene is a colorless, flammable liquid with a sweet odor and it evaporates quickly when exposed to air. The chemical is a natural part of crude oil and gasoline, as well as detergents, drugs and pesticides.
Stuart Spencer, associate director of the office of air quality at the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, told residents at Dec. 1 meeting the presence of benzene suggests there’s trash in the former dump and not just yard waste.
The EPA agreed to have an experienced fire expert advise the state and community regarding the properties of the fire and recommendations on options to extinguish the fire quickly and with the lowest possible environmental and public health consequences, the release sated.
The EPA also has agreed to provide scientific expertise to assist the state Department of Environmental Quality in determining which benzene-sensing technology is available if needed, the release stated.
Curtis and Tiffany Macomber, who live near the dump site, have sued Brown Tree Service and John Does 1-3 in connection with the stump dump fire. The lawsuit was filed last week in Benton County Circuit Court. It claims continued smoke from the site has created a hazardous