Sen. Elizabeth Dole and Rep. Heath Shuler are both pressing the issue of groundwater contamination at the former site of CTS of Asheville on Mills Gap Road. Dole’s office has announced that she’s written a letter to the head of the Environmental Protection Agency “demanding answers,” while Shuler’s staff is holding a meeting on the topic Thursday morning.
In a press release Wednesday morning, Dole’s office said she sent a letter to EPA Director Stephen L. Johnson “demanding that the EPA answer for why it has failed to resolve longstanding concerns about the quality of drinking water in the Mills Gap area of Buncombe County.”
Furthermore, Dole is quoted in the release as saying that “the EPA’s response to date is unacceptable. There have been far too many delays and habitually poor communication with affected residents. It is long past time for a proper and speedy removal of contaminants on the site.”
TCE, an industrial solvent and pollutant, has been found in high levels near the abandoned site. In June, a previously clean well tested positive for TCE, leading to speculation that the toxic “plume” may be spreading. At the same time, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution demanding information from the EPA and the state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
A study found no cancer clusters near the CTS site, but the small sample size of that analysis has led to calls for a new study with a larger sample size.
The meeting with Shuler’s staff, to be held in his Biltmore Avenue office at 10 a.m. tomorrow, will bring together representatives of the EPA and DENR, as well as local officials, to outline plans for cleanup in the area. The officials are “invited to participate in a conversation that I hope will enhance efforts to resolve this very serious issue,” according to a letter from Shuler’s office.
— David Forbes, staff writer
The full release from Dole’s office is below:
Dole Demands Answers from EPA on Mills Gap Groundwater
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole wrote yesterday to Stephen L. Johnson, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), demanding that the EPA answer for why it has failed to resolve longstanding concerns about the quality of drinking water in the Mills Gap area of Buncombe County.
The North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) and the EPA have long recognized the presence of dangerous amounts of trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent that causes harmful health effects, at the 57 acre Mills Gap site in Buncombe County. On April 4, 2002, the EPA issued an Administrative Order of Enforcement that called for the removal of all contaminants on the Mills Gap Site, stating that such removal is “time-critical.” Since then, the EPA has not acted to enforce the order.
“The EPA’s response to date is unacceptable,” said Dole. “There have been far too many delays and habitually poor communication with affected residents. It is long past time for a proper and speedy removal of contaminants on the site.”