New Owners of 'Whirlpool Park' clear the air on EPA Investigation

Just hours after lawyers, representing the Clyde cancer cluster victims' families, released a statement regarding the findings of an EPA report that located hazardous materials beneath the old Whirlpool park, the recreation area's namesake issued a sympathetic statement to the community.

"Since being notified by the USEPA of their test results, Whirlpool has worked diligently and persistently with the current owner of this property, his lawyer and have even solicited the help of the USEPA to gain access to the site to conduct appropriate surveys and additional testing in partnership with the state and federal environmental agencies," Whirlpool's official comment read, in part.

It's what Whirlpool said later in that statement, however, that the current owners of the property are taking issue with.

Another part of Whirlpool's statement says that "the property owner and his lawyer have denied all of our requests for access to the site under reasonable conditions. We are hopeful that the voices of these families will encourage the property owner and his lawyers to allow Whirlpool onto the property to begin the site characterization in coordination with state and federal authorities. We are prepared to move forward immediately with the first steps of the evaluation once granted access to the property."

On Thursday, an attorney for the company Whirlpool is referencing, Grist Mill Creek, LLC, responded in a letter to WNWO saying there is much more to the story.

A statement from Thomas M. Bowlus, Esq., written on behalf of Grist Mill Creek, LLC said that while the owners had agreed to a "site access agreement" with Whirlpool initially, that negotiations broke down when Whirlpool did not want to honor their requests.

"We feel very strongly that if any cleanup is required (and this appears very likely, based upon the initial USEPA Site Assessment Report), such cleanup should be made to residential standards. One of the owners had intended to build his own residence on this property (which was his â??dream locationâ?? prior to this contamination coming to light), and had intended on beginning construction next Spring. The property is not zoned for commercial or industrial use, and we believe that residential use is the appropriate designation. Whirlpool has taken the position that if they clean up the site, they would do so to commercial/industrial standards, and we do not feel that this is appropriate," the Grist Mill Creek's statement reads.

The official comment from Grist Mill Creek, LLC goes on to say that "Another issue which has not been resolved involves our request for indemnification. Basically, the owners have already incurred damages (reduction in value of property, inability to use property as collateral, etc) and costs (legal fees, possible environmental assessment and/or cleanup fees, etc) as a direct result of the fact that the property which they bought from Whirlpool â??with no known contaminationâ?? turns out to be an environmentally contaminated property. Accordingly, they would like to get reimbursed â?? or â??indemnifiedâ?? â?? for these types of damages and costs. Whirlpool is not willing to commit to reimbursing them."

Finally, Attorney Thomas Bowlus refuted Whirlpool's statement that the owners had to be compelled to allow EPA officials on the property.

"Property owners gave USEPA access to conduct their preliminary investigation, and have told the USEPA on many occasions that they â?? the USEPA â?? may have full and complete access to the property," Grist Mill Creek's statement said.

READ: Response from owners of former Whirlpool Park

A copy of Grist Mill Creek's statement, to WNWO was sent to Whirlpool for comment and a company spokesperson quickly responded.

Saying that it appears the land owners are now willing to negotiate, perhaps because of Wednesday's community meeting on the EPA's findings.

"We want to get this resolved as soon as possible," Whirlpool's VP of Communications, Jeff Noel, told WNWO.

Noel went on to say he would have folks "assemble" Friday to begin negotiations with the property owner so that they can gain access to the land and do their own investigation.

Who do you think is telling the truth? Whirlpool or the current owners of the property? You can sound off below or on our Facebook Fanpage.