BELLA VISTA (AP) — It could cost millions of dollars more than first estimated to extinguish an underground fire at an Arkansas landfill containing wood waste, according to Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Cleanup at the Bella Vista stump dump could cost $21 million to $37 million, The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported. The project was initially estimated to cost up to $10 million.
"We have a fund at (the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality) to help us in these kind of remediation efforts," Hutchinson said. "It has about $8 million in it."
Hutchinson said he's asked the environmental agency and Tennessee-based engineering firm EnSafe to find a more cost effective solution.
EnSafe's draft response action plan includes seven alternative approaches that range from smoke mitigation and fire management to complete excavation and fire extinction, the Department of Environmental Quality said in a news release Thursday. The work will take an estimated six to 12 weeks to complete, the release said.
The fire could be burning more than 50 feet (15 meters) underground, said Bella Vista Fire Chief Steve Sims. The issue was first discovered after firefighters were dispatched to the site in July.
The Bella Vista Property Owners Association operated the dump from 2003 to 2016, said Tom Judson, the association's chief operating officer. The site was then covered with soil and closed.
Hutchinson said officials are also reaching out to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for help, but the agency has been unable to assist because of the partial federal government shutdown.