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Timex Contamination Poses Health Concerns For Residents

East Little Rock residents are just learning about a decades-long contamination found under their homes.
EAST LITTLE ROCK, AR- Living on contaminated ground has become a huge concern in an East Little Rock community.

Watch company Timex Corporation, had a plant off Crisp Road near the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport from 1947 to 2000. It was in 2003 that Timex found out the solvent it's been using called trichloroethylene (TCE) was leaked in the soil and ground water. But, it wasn't until now at a recent town hall meeting, property owners found out the contamination reached their land and they want to know why action wasn't taken any sooner.

"Had no idea what this chemical was or what it caused or did to anyone," says Sherrell Pugh, resident.

After some research, Sherrell Pugh found out the solvent TCE poses a number of side effects and health risks including cancer.

"This community here has suffered. I mean a tremendous loss in people who have died here in this community including my mother from cancer," says Pugh.

She now believes there could be a link.

"Inside I really want to cry because you never know when you may come down with cancer and this could be the cause of the cancer," says Pugh.

However, Timex is reassuring people there is no health risk, either from the water they drink or the gardens where they grow food. Timex officials say the contamination is at least 30 feet below homes. About 10 years since the company learned of the spill, it reached an agreement with ADEQ to clean it up.

"We don't understand why the Timex Corporation did this or allowed this to go on this long," says Pugh.

On the phone Friday night, Timex spokesperson Jordan Johnson said they knew people were safe and it was a lengthy process.

"What the situation was, what they were dealing with, the scope of the issue, so then they could develop the very fact base plan on how to remediate it," says Jordan Johnson, Timex spokesman.

The remediation process could begin within the next several months. Timex is giving anyone still uncomfortable with their living situation several options, which include buying the property and a lease back. For some though, it's creating more questions than answers.

"Why are you all willing to compensate and pay people if nothing was harmed or no damage was done," says Pugh.

Timex officials are not sure how long the ground has been contaminated, but it could have been as early as the 50's. Residents say they will meet in a couple of weeks to seek legal council.

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