Since the digging began on Thursday 24 January 2019 the Purple Air monitors established by residents, and the Coalition, have been telling a story that may have severe consequences, that the Medical community may not prepared to handle. People are getting sick and to date we are aware of at least 5 children and 2 adults in the 72714 zip code have been diagnosed with chemical pneumonia or are being treated for those symptoms and waiting on results.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms please make an appointment with your medical provider and reference the dump and the particulate screen shots. Your provider needs to be made aware of the unhealthy air conditions in Bella Vista and were you are in proximity to the dump.
allergy like symptoms
tightness of chest
problems catching breath
flu-like symptoms that come and go
Skin symptoms such as rashes or burns
The purple air monitor screen shots from last night show high levels of particulate.
The 782 means that fine particulate matter is off the charts. The chart only goes to 500. Many agencies use Purple Air monitors, as a real time resource.
These monitors are used all over the globe, any city or state representative trying to discredit these systems is disingenuous at best.
Please seek MEDICAL GUIDANCE and request that your medical information be sent to the Arkansas Department of health (ADH). ADH is the most effective collection point to determine outbreaks and initiate an effective medical response.
At this point it is better to be safe than sorry.
Minimize your exposure by following these simple steps.
This is my story, I hope you read it. My family and I live in Bella Vista, Arkansas. We love our town and community. It has recently come to my attention that our small town has been told lies. In July 2018, a stump dump located off Trafalgar Road caught on fire. We had been told the fire wasn’t a threat and not to worry, that the air quality would be fine. I, like many in the community, went on with life not thinking about the fire nor the health impacts it would have on my family.
In early November, my 5 year old son was not able to run at PE because his chest hurt. On November 15th 2018, my son Avery Jones, who hasn’t had an issue with his asthma in three years, became ill. I didn’t think too much and figured it’s the weather. He happens to have asthma and I have to face the fact that sometimes he will just get really sick. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and we stayed 4 days in the hospital.
Avery was doing better but we noticed he had a slight cough and a runny nose. Again, thinking the weather was affecting him, we treated him with his medication and everything else we have in the past. I thought a little extra dusting and mopping would help out. On Friday, Jan the 18th, he had a doctor appointment at Children’s Northwest Hospital. The pulmonologist checked his lungs, did x-rays, did a flu swab (negative), The Dr. increased the dosage on some medicines , and even changed one of his medications to a stronger one.. We were told that Avery had pneumonia but not bad; just a little tiny spot. We were sent home with the new medication along with antibiotics and told he would be fine; just keep up with treatment. Little did I know we would land back in the ER six days later.
Avery came home Thursday, January 24th from school, walked in the door and laid down. My son is never still and always hungry. I could tell right away something was wrong; my little boy was almost unresponsive. He couldn’t hold his head up or even keep his eyes open. I knew that I needed to test his 02 stats and, sure enough, he was low sitting at 85%. I gave him a breathing treatment and watched to see if that would help. His stats did come up to 95% but he was breathing really fast and laboring to breathe. We rushed to the ER where they did an x-ray and found the pneumonia had grown bigger. Here I am, more sleepless nights in the hospital room wondering how this keeps happening and what am I am doing differently to cause Avery to stay sick.
I discussed the stump dump with the doctor and she was aware of the toxic fire. I reached out to the community of Bella Vista and have found some things out, one being my home is not safe for my son. We have had an air quality test (purple air reader) added to the house by the Stop the Smoke Coalition with they found out about Avery, and it is already showing high readings of particulate and that is 100% not okay with me. In addition to an unsafe home, the Stop the Smoke Coalition installed one at the Village Pet Hospital in Bella Vista located across the street from Avery’s school a week ago. One of the Coalition members has monitored daily readings and chronicled with meter reading pictures (are also time stamped).
The air quality at school has consistently measured out of the safe zone. He is at risk at home and school, virtually his whole world. Yesterday, I was told by the doctor that it’s not safe for Avery to be outside. He will need a mask to walk outside. Additionally, she thinks it will be better if he is either pulled out of school and transferred for the time being or to home school and not be allowed outside. That has led to another struggle. I contacted the Bella Vista school. The principal told me the air is safe around the school and I thought, “OK, sure I can send him with a mask and he just won’t wear it or not allowed outside.”
My Son is a five-year-old, high energy boy who can’t play at recess or participate in PE because the air he breathes in poisoned. This is unacceptable. I did a little research and found the air reader at the veterinarian, mentioned in above paragraph. My asthmatic son has played at school with air that has tested high levels of particulate, even in the red zone a few times. Through the Coalition, I have talked to many who usually never get sick, but say their throats are irritated. I have met people who are normally healthy but are having to take all kinds of medication. The problems have become intense since this fire. Do I know 100% the fire made, my little one sick? No, but I do know that it contributed? Definitely!
In the coming days the doctor will determine if Avery has chemical pneumonia. While I am here with Avery and waiting for answers I wonder how many people the city and POA falsely assured the residents about the quality of our air. How many more people are going to be hurt or lose their home? Why hasn’t anything actually been done and why do they keep telling us that everything is okay when it’s not. It’s costing peoples their health. I will not stay quiet and I will do everything in my power to be heard and not let this happen to another family.
Have you been impacted by the Trafalger Road Fire? Do you want to tell your story, or your families story so that your voice can be heard? Strength in numbers is essential in any grass roots movement.
If you want your story to be told please send us an email and a picture of your family with your estimated distance from the Trafalger Hazardous waste fire. We are not opposed to you sending in additional supporting documentation in your letter either, as multiple pictures and supporting documentation always help others visualize what your narrative is trying to paint a picture of. We are calling this section of Letters from the Impacted.
Gary Broberg of High Heat Fire Specialist (HHFS) from Berea, Ohio submitted information an ADEQ representative to propose smoke and particulate mitigation on 28 December 2018, the information was forwarded to the contractor EnSafe but HHFS has not received any further contact from the state or the contracted company.
HHFS has a basic proposal to extinguish the Bella Vista fire in a matter of days. HHFS’s proposal is at a fraction of the cost. Be aware that the cost is just for the extinguishment of the fire and smoke and particulate mitigation to provide immediate relief to the residents of the Bella Vista Arkansas.
Screen Shot from proposal of timeframe and cost.
HHFS has been monitoring the situation from afar and understands the suffering that residents in Bella Vista Arkansas have been going through as they have a specialized background with firefighting and understand the hazards of burning material. The proposal demonstrates the expertise required to address the technical challenges to extinguish the fire.
Not only is HHFS’s proposal fiscally responsible for the state and taxpayers compared to other methodologies proposed, it has also been proven to be scientifically sound, and it also comes with a guarantee of extinguishment or HHFS does not get paid.
Screen Shot from proposal of Guarantee of work performed. HHFS’s proposal addresses the need to use technology to determine the presence.
A reference letter provided by Fire Chief Kenneth A. Nussle from the City of Warren is attached in the proposal. The Letter states that the fire was approximately 26 acres and had been “plaguing the city for years.”. HHFS was able to suppress the fire in a day.
A phone call to Fire Chief Nussle verified the reference letter and he added that his Fire Department would still be dealing with that situation today, had it not been for HHFS’s assistance.
A full copy of the proposal is downloadable below.
I am writing you this letter because you have a voice. Not just any voice, though – you have a voice heard by many. In the small town of Bella Vista, Arkansas, we are trying desperately to find our voice, as well. Maybe you can help.
In July of last year, a stump dump on the East side of our town started on fire. While originally told that it would last between 5-6 months, it has since been projected to last 5-6 years. At first when residents began complaining about their houses smelling of smoke, we were told by the POA and City that it is just harmless steam. When people started calling the EPA, they came out one day (a calm day) and apparently took measurements on the wrong side of the fire, stating that the air quality was safe. But when so many of the residents started having skin and respiratory issues, it was requested that the EPA come take measurements again. This time, the results were a little more realistic, stating that there were, in fact, harmful substances in the smoke. Though we have been far from quiet, our cries have mostly fallen on deaf ears so far. The city and the POA seem to want to pretend it doesn’t exist (the POA illegally ran this and another stump dump for many years without a permit, supposedly even allowing banned items to be dumped; the city claims they have no funds to help the residents or to help with re mediating the issue, even though they are spending large sums of money elsewhere and are building bike trails throughout the town).
Even some of the other residents in the town (on the side of town that has not been overwhelmed with smoke) have told us to “quit complaining” because they are “sick of hearing us cry about it”. There is even a Bella Vista Neighbors facebook group where merely mentioning the Stump Dump gets you banned.
But finally, with all of us persistently making calls, sending letters, and so on, the Governor did visit Bella Vista, and he declared it an “emergency”. However, he was under the impression that it would cost less than 10 million dollars to fix. Now that it has been estimated around 37 million dollars, he is not sure how to fund it either. The EPA will not help due to the government shutdown.
Now they are focusing on “preparing the site” for remediation, and hoping that funding somehow shows up. And just recently, we have been hearing reports that the other stump dump run by the POA on the West side of town is now “steaming”, as well. But for now, the residents of Bella Vista, AR, are prisoners in their own homes, being advised to limit time outside to less than 15 minutes. It is sad – if you drive down the streets of Bella Vista on the East side, you will likely see any people that are outside in face masks, as many people have had to invest in the kind of face masks remediation professionals use, because the air is so bad. Even staying indoors doesn’t help, as so many are becoming sick. Family pets are getting sick and dying. And those who have had to evacuate are breaking the bank trying to pay for two places. Selling is out of the question, as the prices would drastically decline once potential buyers are notified about the stump dump fire. Not to mention, all of our homes smell of smoke – nobody wants to buy that.
As for myself, my husband and I bought our house in Bella Vista in Feb. 2017. My new husband and I were so excited that we were going to start our family in such a wonderful place. When our daughter, Paisley, was born in July of last year, we decided to go stay with my husband’s family in his hometown 3 hours away during my maternity leave. Everybody wanted to spend some time with her, and I was grateful for the help with the new baby. Just a couple weeks later we got a message from our neighbor to not bring our baby back, there was a stump dump fire and all of the houses on our street were filled with smoke.
My house lies 750 feet away from the fire that is still burning. We have had to move our belongings to my husband’s hometown. We have gone broke trying to pay for two residences right after an unpaid maternity leave and a mountain of hospital bills from the baby. My husband has closed his business and my job hangs in the balance (they are currently letting me work remotely, but that most likely will not last). We are in a house that has asbestos, and the living conditions here are not near what they were in Bella Vista. If this fire does indeed last 5-6 years, we will have to send our daughter to schools that are not nearly as good as the ones in Benton County, where we had intended on sending her. And at that point, I am not sure we would want to uproot her and take her from all of the family and friends she has ever known. This has changed our lives completely, we have been affected in every possible aspect. And there is not an end in sight. But still I am thankful that we had the sense to not bring our baby into that, even when the POA, City, and even the EPA were still claiming it was safe. Because now it has been proven that it is not safe, and especially harmful to babies, the elderly, and those with a compromised immune system. But there are some that were not so lucky, that were unknowingly exposing their children to toxic smoke, but being told it was safe. And others yet that just have no place to go.
So many people that I have told about this situation have compared it to the movie Erin Brockovich. But we don’t have an Erin Brockovich fighting for us. We can only rely on ourselves, and so far, we have not been able to make our voices heard enough to make a change. The Governor declaring an emergency was a ilgQ in the right direction. But we need more. We need national attention for the funds needed to remediate this disaster. We need to shine a spotlight on a city and a POA that will not lift a finger to help the residents after causing the disaster to begin with. We need safe places to go. We need air to breathe. But most of all, we need a voice. Stronger than our own. We are looking for our Erin Brockovich- please let me know if this is you. Thank you,
On advisement from their family care provider, a resident communicated with the State Epidemiologist and Medical Director for Outbreak Response, after their medical information had been forwarded to ADH.
Dr. Dirk Haselow, MD, PHD, describes in the email what the Governor and other high level officials know to be in the Trafalger Road Hazardous Waste Fire site.
It is unknown at this time why public health concerns haven’t been addressed and relocation relief, or evacuation assistance support has not been provided to residents living within close proximity to this burning un-permitted, illegally operated, construction waste dump.
Smoke alone presents a health risk when there is long term exposure. The alarming thing is the contents of this dump, that are described, present a greater risk of long term medical complications especially when ignited and inhaled. Residents have been given no aid, nor guidance, and minimal direction on what they can do to protect themselves.
It is concerning that the State Health Department knows that these items are not safe to inhale when burning and have not addressed the public health concerns for residents living within close proximity to this hazardous site. There are approximately 250 homes within the half mile radius. Many medical providers in Northwest Arkansas have not received appropriate screening guidelines. Many providers in this area are still unaware that this situation is presenting a health risk to residents, and are unsure of what types of screening needs to be conducted.
FOIA requests can be filed to verify this information. However, to protect the identity of the residents the email has been redacted.
Ask the Governor to invoke “Title 4 of the Stafford Act” and to ask the President for temporary relocation relief so that residents would have options to evacuate themselves should they choose to do so.
Please contact Governor Asa Hutchinson’s office: (501) 682-2345, to invoke “Title 4 of the Stafford Act” to provide relief and assistance for the residents of Bella Vista, Arkansas.
To read more on the Stafford Act Please see click here.