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Whirlpool announces park's been cleared in Clyde cancer cluster


AECOM workers prepare to take another soil samples are at the former Whirlpool Park as part of an examination of the property for contamination at the park in Green Springs, Ohio in May.

The Blade/Jetta Fraser
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CLYDE, Ohio -- Extensive soil tests of the 27-acre site formerly known as Whirlpool Park show no evidence of illegal dumping or widespread contamination, Whirlpool Corp. announced today.

That, according to D. Jeffrey Noel, Whirlpool's corporate vice president for communications and public affairs, should give area residents and company employees peace of mind that the facility they might have frequented in the past does not appear to have any connection to eastern Sandusky County's cancer cluster.

Contaminated soil near basketball courts appears to be from fill used to develop and improve the site. Whirlpool will be talking to the present site owner about a plan to remove it.

The encouraging news, Mr. Noel said, is that 328 groundwater, surface water, soil, sediment, and pool filter samples tested for 232 chemical compounds did not yield any unexpected surprises. Nearly all were within acceptable levels for human exposure, he said, including sampling done in and around the pool - where the greatest number of people would have come in contact with the facility.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency stated in an Oct. 30 letter to Whirlpool that the company method of testing and splitting samples with the federal agency was done in accordance with regulations. It said it had no comments on a report submitted by the company's contractor and "acknowledges that the site assessment activities were conducted in accordance" with the agreed-upon plan.

"The site assessment conducted at the Whirlpool Park properly met EPA's requirements. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were the only contaminants of concern found to be above regulatory standards," a letter from the agency's on-scene coordinator, Stephen Wolfe, said. Mr. Wolfe was not available for comment.

PCBs, which are industrial lubricants, can cause cancer, but a lot depends on the pathway and concentration. They are often found in old fill. The letter did not elaborate on where they were found.

Whirlpool said in its statement none of the PCBs were found in groundwater. It said the PCB spikes were limited to the basketball court and former grist mill areas.

"The low levels of PCBs and metals found at this site were at concentrations that pose no health risk and are not unexpected for fill dirt used in the 1950s and 1960s, when major improvements were made in the park," the company said.

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