Do busted barrels reveal a source of CTS contamination?

Today, a resident of the Mills Gap Road area showed Xpress reporters busted barrels at the border of the contaminated former CTS of Asheville site, which he asserts may point to chemical dumping responsible for groundwater contamination in the area.
Photos by Jonathan Welch

“You can see here there’s concrete, along with old pieces of their building, when they expanded the back end of their building, they brought the pieces back here,” Mills Gap Road resident Tate McQueen said, pointing to the concrete, dirt and remains of green barrels wedged up against a fence adjoining the property of the Rice family, the first, in 1999, to see high levels of trichloroethylene contamination, a suspected carcinogen. “CTS stated their property was clean [when the plant was shut down in 1984] and this absolutely defies what they’ve said.”

About 60 feet downhill from the barrels is the home of Larry Rice, Jr. Some 2003 reports from the EPA referenced “green polyethyelne drums” but didn’t specify their location.

“There’s a reason why they’re pushing all their stuff to the edge of the property,” McQueen says. “The question from NCDENR and MacTech [a company assigned by CTS to cleanup the site] is: why are these barrels still here? There is no reason to pour wet concrete over these materials. Why hasn’t it been excavated? It’s right above these folks’ property.”

He adds that the Rice family informed EPA about the barrels as far back as 2002. Local activists and residents have sharply criticized local, state and federal officials for their response to the issue, which they assert have been negligent, placing the residents of the area at risk.

“That’s the lid of a 55-gallon lid,” he says, pointing just past the fence labelled with “No Trespassing” signs. “This is part of the evidence of what the company did to dispose of their waste.”

The CTS site has been investigated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and groundwater contamination — sometimes at hundreds of times the EPA’s allowable limit — found in a number of wells in the area. Earlier this month, the EPA moved one step closer to placing the site on the national Superfund list and, at a meeting with residents, EPA Branch Chief Don Rigger swore that the site will be cleaned up.

— David Forbes, senior news reporter

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5 thoughts on “Do busted barrels reveal a source of CTS contamination?

  1. Aaron Penland

    I’m not sure which phrase my Grandfather would have used but I’m sure it would either be “The Proof is in the Pudding or if it smells like a skunk well then it’s probably a skunk”. How much proof has to be produced to make our ELECTED County Officials stand up for the citizens in this community? The citizens in the South Asheville community actually went to a Commissioners meeting and publicly invited the Commissioners to attend a public meeting that was being held with representatives from EPA Region IV after being invited not one Commissioner attended the meeting. I think it’s time that we all stand together and demand action from our ELECTED officials!!! They took an oath to serve it’s time they honor that oath!!! Especially in situations concerning Life and Death.

  2. Piffy!

    ““CTS stated their property was clean [when the plant was shut down in 1984] and this absolutely defies what they’ve said.””

    And no other agency exists who is supposed to verify their word at the time? They get to just say “Oh, everything’s clean”?

  3. Piffy!

    ““CTS stated their property was clean [when the plant was shut down in 1984] and this absolutely defies what they’ve said.””

    And no other agency exists who is supposed to verify their word at the time? They get to just say “Oh, everything’s clean”?

  4. Our “leaders?”, who were elected to lead and protect the community have failed, woefully. Shame on them.

    Word to Gantt et al…don’t run for office if you cannot do the job.

  5. Erik Penland

    It seems fitting that this article would be listed on this date. Today marks the 10 year anniversary of my fathers death to CANCER. What also seems strange is that this past weekend The Penland family had a family reunion at the Cane Creek Cmty Ctr and it was the lowest turnout that we have ever had. We now have larger turnouts when we as a family gather together to go up to the Penland Family Cemetary to pick up sticks,rake leaves and just regular maintainance that we do ever few months (however, it could also be noted that my father was 1 of 11 children and to date 8 of the 11 have died and 7 of the 8 died from cancer and 4 of the 7’s spouses either have cancer or have died from cancer). CTS,EPA,DENR and our local,state, and federal government officials have BLATENTLY LIED,repeatedly maintaining their innocence or ignorance, which I can’t say for sure. If you live in the immediate area YOU ARE BEING AFFECTED, if you just live in Asheville and you think your NOT AFFECTED, think again. Where do you think this water is running off too? How about Cane Creek, how about a small stream named THE FRENCH BROAD RIVER. If you live in Tennessee and you think this is just a problem for NC, you know which way *#@! runs…downhill.(Remember Champion Paper and the discolored water and rocks, well this will be worse in a few years. Come Nov. it is time to tell the impotent members of our County Commissioners, and our other elected officials that it is time for new blood to fill the seats that hopefully will be vacated come NOV. and not allow this injustice to continue. This community has been represented numerous times at the County Commissioners meeting begging for them to act, only to have the Chairman of the Board David Gantt to come up to us after a meeting and say to us in an exaggerated tone, “What is it that you want us to do?” We want you to ACT. We want you to follow through with what is going on. We want this mess cleaned up NOW. Why has it taken over 20 years for us to get to this point? If the EPA would have acted then like they “said” they were going to this wouldn’t be such a mess as it is now. Back then the barrels that were ILLEGALLY dumped and encased in cement could have been exhumed and PROPERLY disposed of, but b/c of the blame game and people who want fancy titles, but not the responsibilty that goes with it, now this toxic poision has spread close to 2 miles from the plant (that we know of) It could have been contained, but it wasn’t. This reminds me of the movie starring Dustin Hoffman OUTBREAK. Don’t work for a solution, just kill all the people involved and start over. It also reminds me of another movie perhaps the CEO of CTS, or the Chairman of the County Commissioners, or the Director of Region IV EPA and DENR will remember. It was played by Julia Roberts….ahh what was it….oh yeah Erin Brockovich. Well those are just some of my thoughts. I WILL be out on Election Day and I hope to see you at the polls.

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