November 15, 2012

13 ABC Reports: US EPA: Evidence of Toxic Sludge at Whirlpool Park

There are new details in the Clyde Cancer Cluster.

A new report by the US Environmental Protection Agency found high levels of PCB's and toxic metals in the soil at Whirlpool Park.

Families of kids who have died from cancer are upset saying a playground was a toxic dumping area.

They've hired attorneys to independently investigate that and 14 other sites.

 "I want you to focus in on that," says Warren Brown during a news conference holding up a picture of his daughter Alexa who died when she was 11 years old.

"This community has to be made safer," says Steve Keller, holding a picture of his grandson Kole who died at the age of six.

These families have been frustrated for years.  The state health department started the cancer cluster investigation in 2006 and that report found no known cause for the high cancer rates.

However the families have now hired attorneys after reading the new US EPA report finding high levels of PCB's and toxic metals in the soil at Whirlpool Park.

"Maybe this is the common link," says attorney Alan Mortensen.

Whirlpool Park is now closed.  It is located in Green Springs which is five miles outside of Downtown Clyde.

The park was owned by the Whirlpool Corporation.

"I went to the park from when I was 8 to 10 years old," says Wendy Brown, Alexa's mom.

"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.

Whirlpool Corporation sent a letter to all employees Wednesday morning saying the company bought the park in the 1950s and sold it in 2008.

"From the time we purchased the property it was a park. It was a park when we purchased it, until we sold it," says Jeff Noel of Whirlpool Corporation.  "So our records show it was a park."

The company says it has been working with the EPA since being notified of the test results.  However, Noel says the current property owner has denied the company access to the site.

"Absolutely we're concerned," says Noel. "We've got over three thousand employees, we've been there over 60 years, we hope to be there another 50, 60 years."

"Nothing infuriated me more as when the state came in and said there was nothing there," says Steve Keller. " Because I've spent a lot of time, a lot of hours at the Northwest EPA in BG.  I knew there was a lot there and now we know there's a lot there."

"When Alexa lay on her death bed, I told her her death would not be in vain," says Warren Brown. "We are going to get some answers."

Whirlpool says it's willing to buy back the property to do testing and resolve issues in the best interest of the community. Christine Long

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