AP NEWS

Air better than forecast at Arkansas dump underground fire

June 4, 2019

BELLA VISTA, Ark. (AP) — Air quality near an underground fire at an illegal dumping site in northwest Arkansas is better than expected, state environmental officials said.

Readings from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality’s website show that between May 18 and May 22, the air quality was good, not unhealthy as forecast. The readings came from two sites near the Bella Vista underground fire, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The results were posted to the state agency’s website Friday.

The Bella Vista Property Owners Association, which is responsible for extinguishing the fire, said the air quality is still unhealthy for those the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency categorizes as sensitive: people with heart and lung disease, older adults and children.

The underground fire was first discovered by residents last July. They said at the time that the smoke has caused respiratory and other health problems.

The Environmental Quality Department was in charge of extinguishing the fire. But the association took over the job on May 3. Now, it must extinguish the fire by June 14 under a contract with the state’s environmental agency. The association said that will cost around $4 million.

The association’s chief operating officer, Tom Judson, said that the contractors in charge of extinguishing the fire are ahead of schedule in phase one, which is putting out the fire and making sure it doesn’t reignite. Phase two will be remediation of the site.

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Information from: Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.nwaonline.com

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