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Arkansas sawmill temporarily shutting down due to community concerns

An Arkansas sawmill is temporarily shutting down after neighbors allege dangerous chemicals are hurting their land and livestock.

MALVERN, Ark. — Anthony Timberland Incorporated is shutting down operations temporarily after neighbors in Malvern allege dangerous chemicals are hurting their land and their livestock.

Residents who live in the neighborhood close to the sawmill are asking for answers and said they’ve been dealing with this for too long.

“A discharge of hydraulic fluid," Malvern resident Kathleen Cole said. "That hydraulic fluid has particles also in the air, but it has gotten into a creek that is down here less than a minute from my home."

The sawmill is just a walk down the road from Cole's house where she’s lived for 42 years.

“We're just a close knit community,” Cole said.

Cole said she is concerned now more than ever for her community.

“We are very concerned about our health issues," Cole said. "We're concerned about the drinking water... we're concerned about our land."

Farmer Alex Huell has worked in Malvern for about 20 years and said he recently lost 40 cows.

“I didn't think it was the water for several months until after we happened to go to the corner of the property and see what was going on over there in that particular area,” Huell said.

Huell quickly learned he wasn't alone. Other farmers in the area decided to get their cows tested and the results revealed that their livers are being affected by the contaminants. 

Now, Huell isn't sure what to do.

“We won’t sell them because we don't know what's in them [or how it will] impact the food market,” Huell said.

Anthony Timberland Incorporated disputed the claims in a memo to employees and said that petrochemicals are flowing into the water supply.

"By the time our stormwater discharge reaches town creek, then Chatman creek, our discharge accounts for only a tiny fraction of the water in those streams; not enough to sicken a mouse, much less kill a cow," Anthony Timberland Incorporated said in a statement.

Community members hope that by coming together they can get answers. They are meeting Thursday night to raise their concerns, and push for the closure of the Anthony Timberlands mill.

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