Timex entered into an amended with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality Feb. 27 that sets out what Timex has to do to remediate ground and water contaminated with solvents and other organic compounds at its old watch plant at 2215 Crisp Drive, on the edge of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. Now, they are offering to buy properties around the plant.
The consent decree says Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA) testing on the soil and groundwater at the site found chemicals that pose “potential unacceptable risks to human health” off-site in the residential area if wells are dug and water is consumed. (Because the site is on industrialized airport land, ecological risks are not a concern, the report said.) Testing of the site started in 2002.
Timex paid the airport a $2.5 million settlement in March 2013 because the 9 acres it occupied was rendered unusable by the contamination.
Under the terms of the consent decree, Timex will remove tainted soil and neutralize groundwater contaminants. Among the soil and groundwater contaminants is TCE (trichloroethylene); Timex will remove soil containing that chemical and perform in situ oxidization of TCE in the groundwater (see map below).
Timex has informed owners of some 40 properties near the plant (17 of which are vacant lots) that it will purchase their property for the appraised value assigned by Pulaski County, cover all closing costs and pay $3,000 to compensate resident owners for moving expenses. Owners of vacant lots will receive an additional $1,000.
Homeowners who want to sell but don’t want to move may lease back the property at fair market rent.
They too will be offered $3,000 as additional compensation, and Timex will charge no rent for six months. Property owners who don’t want to sell will be offered 30 percent of the appraised property value in exchange for a deed restriction on the property that prevents the use of groundwater and a release of property damage claims. There is nothing in the real estate offers that prohibits homeowners from filing health-related claims against Timex, Jordan Johnson, a spokesman for Timex, says.
Homeowners have six months to make a decision. They do not have to sell. Timexlittlerock.com says there is no risk to persons who stay as long as they do not use groundwater.
Timex will ask the city to pass an ordinance that would prohibit the drilling of deep water wells on the site.