KFSM: Neighbors Claim Allens Inc. Plant Contaminated Water

Before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Monday, Allens Inc. of Siloam Springs was already making news in northwest Arkansas, with neighbors telling KFSM-TV, Channel 5, that an Allens plant had contaminated a nearby stream.

The CBS affiliate talked to John Roach, who lives in an area on Butler Road downstream from an Allens plant. Roach says the water contains brown sludge and is oily and smells of sulfur.

Roach and his neighbors point the blame to the vegetable food processing plant company, Allens, Inc. He said the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality investigated the leaks and told them the source of the problem.

“Found that it was coming from the Allen canning plant over on Fairmont Road where they are irrigating their field with this stuff,” Roach said.

The main Allens plant is on Readings Road, off Fairmont, in Siloam Springs. The company hasn't yet responded to KFSM requests for comment.

But the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality tells me that it's been working with Allens since last week to address the problem. AEDQ says it considers Allens to be the "responsible party" and will require the company to take corrective measures, which entails capping irrigation systems in saturated fields that likely caused the contamination.

While there's no final report yet, AEDQ says it's been receiving complaints about the problem throughout the month. Once the department is satisfied that the contamination has stopped, it will consider enforcement actions, which could include fines to Allens.

On Monday, Arkansas Business was the first to report that the company filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy claiming at least $100 million in debt. The 87-year-old, family-owned private firm hopes to emerge from bankruptcy and focus on its core canning business. It employs 960 people in Arkansas.

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