Pre-Fire Tests Hot Springs' Majestic Showed Negligible Pollutants

Aug 6, 2014

Credit Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas

Documents from a December study show tests of rainwater runoff from the former Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs indicated little to no toxic content just 2 months before a building on the site was destroyed in a fire.

The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality says the former hotel’s owner, Garrison Hassenflu, arranged for testing of possible toxins in the area with the city just two months prior to the former hotel's partial destruction by fire.

ADEQ Hazardous Waste Division Chief Tammie Hynum says at the time, the city had some concerns about the building

“My understanding is that the city just wanted to make sure [there were no pollutants], since the building had a damaged roof and it had been abandoned for a period of time and it was an old structure. The water was coming through the damaged roof, staying in the basement area and going through the city storm system,” she says.

The ADEQ has been overseeing the development of a plan to remove possible hazardous waste and other materials from the former hotel’s “yellow building,” which burned in February.

Hynum says her agency and Hassenflu have been cooperating to determine a proper cleanup and testing plan for the site.

“We made a few comments when we met with them the other day. They’re submitting me a revised plan. I would hope to get that this week. And that would have their proposed sample locations and the parameters that they would revise them for,” she says.

The community of Hot Springs has responded to the Majestic fire with new plans to revitalize the downtown area and protect its historic structures. The city is also in the process of implementing its Thermal Basin Fire District Code, which would ensure that all abandoned buildings have proper fire safety mechanisms in place.