A Buncombe County contractor began demolishing the former CTS of Asheville plant building today, Dec. 6, on Mills Gap Road. While area residents applaud the move as a small step toward cleanup of the contaminated site, resident Tate MacQueen argues that Buncombe taxpayers will be picking up a tab that should rightfully be paid by the responsible party.
Xpress broke the story in 2007, after a family immediately down slope from the now-abandoned electroplating facility on Mills Gap Road noticed a chemical sheen on the natural spring water they used as a drinking source. The family's property borders the CTS site; they had been drinking the spring water for years and reported a variety of serious health problems. (See "Fail-Safe?" July 11, 2007 Xpress).
Mills Gap residents have collected extensive evidence of chemical dumping on the property going back decades. Area residents were placed on the municipal water system years ago, but not before some began suffering rare cancers, immune disorders, and other serious problems. Earlier this year, Buncombe County commissioners agreed to demolish the building.
"Unfortunately, this is just a token gesture toward a real cleanup," resident and historian Tate MacQueen says of the demolition. "And Buncombe County taxpayers will be picking up the tab, instead of the responsible party," he adds.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund division reports that it has already spent $6.5 million on testing and related activities. The EPA has demanded repayment plus interest from CTS. The Elkhart, Ind.-based company reported profits of more than $552 million last year, according to a report in Businessweek.
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Photos by Susan Andrew.