Testing begins at Clyde park site

An independent environmental consultant hired by Whirlpool Corp. began testing this week at the former Whirlpool Park to determine if contaminants from the site led to illnesses in the Clyde area.

Jeff Noel, vice president of communications and public affairs at Whirlpool Corp., said testing began Monday at the former park, located at CR 187 and CR 181 near Clyde. Testing will last a couple of weeks and will follow a “very rigid and prescriptive plan under the federal and state EPA,” Noel said.

About 200 compounds will be screened for in the roughly 360 samples that will be taken from the site, Noel said. He said the Environmental Protection Agency and Whirlpool will be analyzing the samples.

“We want to do this in a very exhaustive and scientific way to get results that we need,” he said.

Noel said 12 monitoring wells also are to be installed.

He said the company anticipates completion of a report on the findings by fall.

A plan on behalf of Whirlpool Corp. to test soil, surface water, stream sediment, fill materials, soil piles and ground water was approved by the EPA in April after contamination was found by the agency last year, according to information from Whirlpool Corp.

According to the information, the contamination was found at depths in which there would have been no human exposure, and no contamination was found in a neighboring well.

Two class action lawsuits recently filed on behalf of several families in the Clyde-Green Springs area are claiming toxic waste dumped at the park and at other dump sites led to illnesses and even death.

One lawsuit, filed in Sandusky County, is asking for more than $750 million. The other, filed last week in U.S. District Court in Toledo, is seeking more than $5 million.

“Whirlpool did not use the park as a dump site and never authorized dumping of any waste at the site,” according to a statement from the company.

The federal lawsuit also claims Whirlpool Corp. burned waste products, causing residual benzaldehyde to blanket the Clyde area.

Testing conducted at the plaintiffs’ homes revealed benzaldehyde levels to be above acceptable EPA regional screening levels, according to the lawsuit.

According to a fact sheet from the Ohio Bureau of Environment Health provided by Whirlpool, benzaldehyde is a colorless liquid that has an almond-like odor. It is naturally found in fruits that have pits and can be found in tea, whisky and in combustion by-products.

A Swedish study of indoor dust detected benzaldehyde in 373 of 389 homes, according to the fact sheet.