Officials turned out in force this week trying to figure out the best next steps to ensure a discharge of pollutants at the Anthony Timberlands, Inc., sawmill facility in Malvern is being properly addressed.

But a quick look Thursday morning at the concrete ditch that runs along the property’s southern edge showed a shocking amount of what appeared to be hydrocarbons, suspected to be hydraulic fluid, still amassing around and escaping under some spots betwixt the booms that were laid out to catch it.

Landowners visited the site Thursday morning and quickly reached out to local officials, including HSC Judge Dennis Thornton, District 4 JP Darrin Hardy, Malvern Mayor Brenda Weldon, Rep. Rick McClure, and HSC Dept. of Emergency Management Coordinator Randy Greathouse with their concerns.

The fear surrounds a possibility that pollutants are still seeping into the water and making their way downstream, not to mention the current state of the emergency response. The facility says they have complied with orders set forth by the EPA and are not releasing any discharge, but a thick oil sheen is still visible in the water flow of the concrete ditch south of the facility.

It’s understood that this is exactly what the boons are designed to do, and there is going to be such accumulation in these spots, but first mention of the boons in the ADEQ timeline was Sept. 27. Residents want to see ATI and the company they contracted to perform the cleanup, TAS Environmental Services, making a lot more progress cleaning up the mess, at this point.

ADEQ officials were notified and arrived on scene by Thursday afternoon. Alan York, Associate Dir. of the ADEQ’s Office of Water Quality, said he was there to observe the current conditions and would then report his findings to his superiors. The outcome of these communications is unknown at this time, but relevant documents pertaining to this situation can be found on the ADEQ website through www.adeq.state.ar.us.

Some talk was heard of trying to declare an emergency, but options faded Thursday as the day wore on and holiday absences at the higher levels of the bureaucracy, as well as other factors yet unknown, stalled the conversation. It’s doubtful anything will be done before the holiday, but residents will keep a watchful eye themselves and eagerly await a response from environmental officials.

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