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Published: 12/5/2012

Whirlpool Corp. agrees to do comprehensive environmental study of Clyde park it once owned

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

CLYDE, Ohio -- The Whirlpool Corp. has agreed to do a comprehensive environmental study of a 27-acre park it used to own where recently found contamination is suspected by some to be responsible for a childhood cancer cluster in southeastern Sandusky County.

Thomas Bowlus, attorney for property owners Grist Mill Creek LLC, said he was finalizing a written agreement with Whirlpool today after reaching a verbal agreement with company representatives last week to study contamination at the site.

“We’ve reached an agreement to fully characterize the entire parcel so they’re not going to just focus on one or two hot spots,” Mr. Bowlus said.

Soil borings conducted for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed the presence of “toxic sludge” at the former Whirlpool Park near Green Springs. The park, which was purchased by Whirlpool for its employees and their families in the 1950s, was a popular spot for swimming and other outdoor gatherings for decades. At least 37 childhood cancer cases within a 12-mile radius of Clyde have been documented; four children have died.

Whirlpool Spokesman Kristine Vernier said Wednesday that work at the site would “move quickly” as soon as a written agreement with the property owners is signed. She said testing and evaluation could be completed in 10 to 12 weeks.

“Working under the Ohio EPA Voluntary Action Program, with oversight from the U.S. EPA, Whirlpool plans to expedite all steps necessary to quickly understand the facts and implement appropriate actions,” she said in an email.

Mr. Bowlus said Whirlpool will hire a certified environmental professional to conduct the assessment and “we will have our own certified environmental professional as kind of a second opinion. They’re going to split samples with us. Every sample taken will be run by two different labs so we’re going to have a high degree of confidence in the numbers and we’ll know this was done properly.”

Whirlpool will pay all costs, Ms. Vernier said.

The agreement comes just three weeks after attorneys representing the families of Clyde-area children diagnosed with cancer held a news conference in Clyde to draw attention to the EPA’s findings at the park and to demand action.



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