Contaminated former CTS site moves closer to condemnation

A recent bid by residents near the contaminated former CTS of Asheville plant on Mills Gap Road to have the property condemned has taken a step forward.

A group of residents attended the June 21 meeting of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and requested the condemnation. Action to address the contaminated site — where a vacant plant once housed chemical electroplating operations — has moved forward at a snail’s pace over decades, residents say, as state and federal agencies analyze the situation. The EPA is presently considering placing the site on its National Priorities List, a move that would place it among the nation’s most contaminated sites, and provide federal “Superfund” dollars to aid cleanup if the responsible party can’t be forced to do so.

The first step in the county’s condemnation process is an inspection of the property. An inspection occurred with visits by county building inspection staff on June 24 and again on June 29. The report cites numerous (13) sizable holes in the roof, which shows extensive evidence of decay. Steel beams supporting the roof show signs of corrosion due to leaks. A large percentage of the glass in windows and doors is damaged or removed, the report states, and all exterior doors have been removed, leaving the building accessible, although the property is enclosed by a 6-foot chain-link fence.

“Given the extent of decay … it doesn’t seem feasible to repair these holes” in the roof, the report states. “In all probability the roof, roof decking and some of the cross members would need to be replaced.”

Photos taken by an EPA contractor in recent weeks show extensive graffiti indicative of trespassing. The report makes a brief analysis of what would be required to secure the building against access, namely, extensive application of plywood to sheath the door and window openings, coverings that would require continued maintenance to retain their integrity.

The report refrains from actually recommending condemnation, however, and seems to leave the door open to anything from demolition to fortifying the derelict building.

Photos courtesy of EPA.

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