The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality will file a supplemental bill for more funds so they can hire contractors to remedy the underground stump dump fire in Bella Vista.
“This is a very necessary step toward financing the work that needs to be done,” an ADEQ news release states.
After exploring more cost-effective alternatives to remedying the Trafalgar Road fire in Bella Vista, ADEQ is now evaluating multiple proposals from qualified fire response experts, the news release states.
Proposal evaluations are based on viability, timeline to complete, cost and further impact to residents, according to the news release.
“As we evaluate a path forward, ADEQ continues to keep the concerns of Bella Vista’s residents in mind. ADEQ has spoken with many residents impacted by the smoke from the underground fire. We understand the concerns; we are listening; and we are working with experts to create the most comprehensive solution for this community,” said ADEQ Director Becky Keogh.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson said he is pleased by the progress ADEQ and the Arkansas Forestry Commission have made so far in on-site preparation at the Trafalgar Road fire location.
“In our meeting Friday, ADEQ shared several proposals for on-site cleanup, and I expect a decision in the coming days,” Hutchinson said. “I continue to share the concerns of the Bella Vista residents, and I am committed to getting this complex situation resolved as quickly—and safely—as possible.”
Preparation for remedying the underground fire will continue throughout the next few weeks. ADEQ is working with EnSafe, local and county officials, as well as other entities to contract for and begin additional on-site work, including:
- A staging area that must be created around the site by clearing trees and other vegetation.
- An access road that must be constructed.
- The construction of a support system to facilitate fire control and fire response, which will vary depending on the plan selected to extinguish the fire and eliminate the smoke.
“ADEQ is continuing to work with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other federal officials to secure federal funding,” the news release states. “Several options have been discussed with EPA, but at this time the State has not received any financial assistance.”
Up to $7.3 million in state response funds have been dedicated to the problem.
“Expedited funding has been expended to take interim measures to reduce the spread of fire, create fire breaks, deploy monitoring, and develop a site specific response plan,” the news release states.