Former Whirlpool park tested for cancer-causing contaminants

Whirlpool Park in Green Springs, Ohio, is closed to the public and is now being tested for harmful chemicals.
Whirlpool Park in Green Springs, Ohio, is closed to the public and is now being tested for harmful chemicals.

CLYDE, Ohio -- An environmental company hired by Whirpool began testing in its former recreational park today for potential cancer-causing contaminants that may be linked to 39 children being diagnosed with cancer in Clyde and Green Springs.

The testing, which is being overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is expected to take up to three weeks, Jeff Noel, corporate vice president of communications and public affairs for Whirlpool said.

Results of the tests are expected to be ready by early fall, he said.

“It’s a very methodical process,” Mr. Noel said. “It involves a lot of science, accuracy and methodology.”

During the next several weeks workers from AECOM will install 12 deep and shallow monitoring wells and take more than 350 samples that it will share with the EPA. The cost of the testing is about $300,000, Mr. Noel said.

“It’s the right thing to do,” he said. “We’re less concerned about the cost than we are about what the feds want us to do.”

The testing comes a week after a federal class-action lawsuit was filed against Whirlpool Corp.

The suit, filed in U.S. District Court of Toledo, names 27 plaintiffs, including Warren Brown of Clyde, who lost his 11-year-old daughter Alexa to cancer in 2009. Most plaintiffs live in Green Springs and Clyde, an area where authorities have investigated why at least 35 children have been diagnosed with cancer. Alexa and three others have died.

The lawsuit links the cancer cases to exposure to benzaldehyde, a compound found in the attics of five Clyde homes a mile or less from Whirlpool’s plant.

Whirlpool spokesman Kristine Vernier recently released a statement saying the company is evaluating the “new allegations.”

“We will vigorously defend Whirlpool, its employees, and the community against these allegations. Whirlpool has been part of the fabric of the Clyde community for more than 60 years and we remain committed to acting responsibly,” she stated.