BELLA VISTA, Ark. (KFSM) — Crews working to extinguish an underground fire at a former Bella Vista stump dump have yet to remove any hazardous waste from the site, but air quality forecasts for the remainder of the excavation remain in the “unhealthy” category.
The Bella Vista Property Owners Association, which which earlier this month took over extinguishing the fire, reported Tuesday (May 28) that “excavation work is concentrated in the western and northwest side of the site,” while “hot spots are being identified and addresses in the other areas, guided by thermal measurements.”
Since work started on May 18, no hazardous substances or waste have been recovered, although initial sampling of the site revealed construction material and tires. Officials believe most of the waste inside the dump is wood material.
Little Rock company Center for Toxicology & Environmental Health is providing air monitoring throughout the remediation project.
“Air monitoring was performed before, during, and after the daily work consistent with the Air Monitoring, Noise Monitoring, and Hazard Communication Plan,” according to the POA.
“The air quality measurements from Sunday (May 26) … show no exceedances of action levels.”
Data collected by the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) from air monitors near the fire showed the air quality has been primarily in the “good” category for April and May.
The POA’s timeline gives a tentative deadline of June 13, with site stabilization to follow “ASAP” after the fire is extinguished, according to an agreement between the POA and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).
The former stump dump on Trafalgar Road has been smoldering since July 2018 when debris underground caught fire — likely sparked by a pile of burning brush — and caused smoke from underground to billow up into the air.
The POA’s plan calls for excavating the burning material and either destroying it via trench burn while sorting inorganic and other potentially hazardous waste for processing.
The stump dump was leased by the POA from 2008 to 2016. Brown’s Tree Care currently owns the property.
It was intended to be used as a collection area for residents’ stumps, brush and leaves. The POA closed the stump dump down in 2016 after it reached capacity.
The POA is a defendant in a lawsuit that accuses several Bella Vista entities of operating an illegal dump at the site and negligently endangering residents’ health and safety.