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Published: Tuesday, 4/23/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Whirlpool to take, test samples at old park site

Cancer link suspected at firm’s former property


CLYDE, Ohio — Hundreds of environmental samples, thought to be linked by some to a children’s cancer cluster, will be taken and tested at the former Whirlpool Park property.

Whirlpool Corp. on Monday announced it would move ahead with a plan to take about 360 soil, surface, and ground water, stream sediment, fill material, and soil pile samples at the former park near Green Springs. The company will pay for the sampling activity, expected to begin in mid to late-May.

A Sandusky County Common Pleas Court class-action lawsuit filed late last month alleges a connection between the cancer cluster, which includes at least 35 childhood cases within a 12-mile radius of Clyde, and the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, at the old park. Of those cases, four children have died.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency last year found elevated levels of the contaminants in soil samples from the site, prompting Whirlpool to prepare a plan to conduct testing, said company spokesman Kristine Vernier.

Whirlpool and Grist Mill Creek LLC, which purchased the property in 2008, are defendants in the class-action suit filed by the Toledo and Fremont law firm Albrechta and Coble.

Attorney Tom Bowlus, who represents Grist Mill Creek of Fremont, said testing will occur with cooperation from the property owners. Mr. Bowlus said the goal is to examine the entire property, with a concentration of the sampling taking place in areas where there could be problems.

Ms. Vernier said she did not know how long it would take to complete the testing. The next steps, including potential clean-up efforts, would depend on what is found, Mr. Bowlus said.

Whirlpool has been working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on a voluntary action program to address concerns at the site. Ms. Vernier said the federal environmental agency provides oversight in the process.

The U.S. EPA stated in a December report that “further sampling is required to determine the extent of contamination.”

Whirlpool purchased the park site in 1953 and used the property as a recreation area for employees, their families, and others. It closed in 2006.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com or 419-724-6065.

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