Bella Vista Mayor Calling Out ADEQ For Lack of Communication Over Stump Dump

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BELLA VISTA, Ark. (KFTA) — The city of Bella Vista and the state are colliding on how to best put out the Trafalgar Road Fire, otherwise known as the stump dump.

Bella Vista Mayor Peter Christie says both parties have the same goal, but he’s frustrated with the lack of communication.

“We’re pretty much out of the loop,” Christie said.

The underground fire became a public issue in July 2018.

It continues to heat up concerns from homeowners, and now Christie is speaking out against the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

On Tuesday, February 19, the agency announced it was filing a supplemental bill to receive federal funding.

“They call us when they want the gate open or they want us to do something, but we’re not part of the planning,” Christie said.

The ADEQ says on-site preparation will continue throughout the next few weeks, but Christie says this underground fire needs to be put out now.

“There’s one company out of Ohio that actually says they can put the fire out for just under $3 million, which is considerably less than $28 million — it does not include extraction,” Christie said.

Officials from the ADEQ say they’ve been exploring more cost-effective ways to put out the fire, and are considering many proposals.

We reached out to the ADEQ to clarify how exactly it’s communicating with the city, and whether or not it’s considering this cheaper option.

Donnally Davis, a spokesperson for ADEQ, says it speaks with the city regularly and provides weekly updates to Christie and staff as well as Benton County officials and residents.

She adds the proposal from the Ohio company, High Heat Specialists, is not viable because it did not answer questions from the ADEQ, nor did it provide any level of confidence that the fire would be extinguished and not reignite.

Christie says they’re still on different pages.

“It’s very, very frustrating for both all of us on the city council, but in particular the residents — and I live up there. We need to get the fire out pure and simple.”

Statement from ADEQ:

ADEQ speaks with the City of Bella Vista regularly. In addition, ADEQ provides weekly updates to Mayor Christie and staff as well as Benton County officials, residents, and media. ADEQ has developed a webpage for the Bella Vista community: https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/bella-vista/. The webpage is an excellent resource with up-to-date information and answers to frequently asked questions regarding the underground fire on Trafalgar Road. Resources, reports, and weekly updates can all be found on the webpage’s left sidebar. The Arkansas Department of Health’s weekly particulate matter review is posted to the information page under Trafalgar Site Resources, and state action measures are listed on the webpage to give the Bella Vista community a look at what has been completed and what needs to be completed on-site. ADEQ also has a dedicated phone line and email address for questions and concerns regarding the underground fire: 501-682-0906 and trafalgarsite@adeq.state.ar.us.

ADEQ has evaluated several options to address the underground fire. Once ADEQ received High Heat Specialist’s (HHS) proposal, the Department immediately reached out. ADEQ met on-site with Gary Broberg of HHS to discuss his proposal. As part of the evaluation process, ADEQ requested a scope of work, asked for a reference of past work performed, and provided technical questions in response to HHS’s proposal. HHS did not provide an adequate scope of work, did not provide any references, and did not provide sufficient answers to ADEQ’s technical questions. Moreover, the proposal posed significant risks to workers and operators on-site and did not provide any level of confidence that the fire would be extinguished and not reignite. Had HHS sufficiently answered ADEQ’s questions and provided what ADEQ requested, HHS’s proposal to spray a solution on the fire would still not adequately address the problems at this complex site. To put it simply, HHS’s proposal, while significantly lower in cost than other proposals, is not viable.

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