Whirlpool exec addresses discovery of toxic sludge - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Whirlpool exec addresses discovery of toxic sludge

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There are new details in the childhood cancer cluster in Clyde. Whirlpool Corporation leaders say their attorneys are meeting next week with the current owners of Whirlpool Park. This comes after a new US EPA report revealed that testing found high levels of PCBs and other toxic chemicals in the soil at the former playground.

Whirlpool owned the park from 1953 until leaders sold it four years ago. The company now wants access to the site to do its own testing.

If further investigation shows the park was contaminated while the company owned it, whether by Whirlpool or an outside contractor, Whirlpool leaders say's they'll clean it up.

"We have an obligation to help this community get answers," says Whirlpool Vice President Jeff Noel.

Noel says the company has been cooperating with the EPA since testing revealed high levels of carcinogens in the soil at the park.

He responded to a news conference held by attorneys for families with kids who died from cancer.

"What was even more upsetting to the family members was the fact that Whirlpool had not disclosed this black sludge full of PCBs and other toxins," said Attorney Alan Mortensen at that conference. "Its existence came from the hotline that was set up for people of the community who know about the dumping."

Noel says, "Our records show we did not knowingly, or have any record of, putting any contaminants or any fill materials onto that property that would've been contaminated."

"We want to get those very same answers," he says. "Keep in mind, this plant was six to seven miles away from our plant operations. In fact, it's in a fairly rural area."

Whirlpool says there was a pool on the site when the company bought it in 1953, but Whirlpool hired contractors to make big upgrades.

"It is troubling that they would landscape a park for children, whoever put it there, using toxic sludge and inviting kids to play for several years," says Mortensen.

Noel says, "We made significant improvements to the pool. We did build the new basketball courts and the tennis courts.  I believe there were six to eight different major construction activities that took place on that site, and there were a lot of independent contractors, and a lot of what would then have been acceptable activities in terms of moving dirt on that particular site."

We also spoke with noel about other sites in the area flagged by the US EPA. We're digging through those records and will have more coming up Wednesday on 13abc Action News at 6.

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