The Environmental Protection Agency will test approximately 36 wells as part of its continued monitoring of contamination linked to the former CTS plant on Mills Gap Road in South Asheville. In an emergency action initiated by a mid-August finding of high levels of trichloroethene in a private, residential well on Chapel Hill Church Road, EPA officials have been going door to door recently, seeking access to other private wells located within one mile of the CTS facility.
In 1999, 830,000 parts per billion of TCE was discovered in the soil underneath the remaining building of the plant, where electronic components were manufactured. TCE is one of several degreasing agents used at the plant, which operated for three decades (approximately 1959 to 1986). It’s a recognized carcinogen and linked to other serious illnesses. In North Carolina, TCE levels in public drinking-water sources are not allowed to exceed 2.8 ppb, and the federal limit is 5 ppb.
The Chapel Hill Church Road property, although located less than a half-mile from the former plant, has never been tested. Preliminary tests indicate 840 ppb of TCE in the homeowner’s drinking well, which is shared by two families (see “Green Scene: Well of Discontent,” Sept. 9, Xpress). Other nearby homeowners’ wells and springs were tested in 1999, and those homeowners have been on public water ever since. Re-testing of their original drinking-water sources in 2007, however, indicated increased TCE levels. The EPA has also been monitoring 50 private wells for the past few years, is evaluating the site for placement on the National Priority List for superfund status, and is monitoring a system that extracts TCE from the vapors released from contaminated springs on and near the site. To date, almost 6,000 pounds of the toxin have been removed.
Only wells currently used as drinking water sources and not included in the current Private Well Monitoring Network — the 50 mentioned above — will be sampled this week, EPA officials report. The next quarterly sampling event for all wells is scheduled for the week of Oct. 12.
Any resident who has not granted access for well sampling, but would like to, and who lives within a one-mile radius of CTS, should contact the EPA at (800) 241-1754.
The CTS site is located on Mills Gap Road in Buncombe County, N.C., and consists of approximately nine acres containing a large, single-story building. In 1987, Mills Gap Road Associates (MGRA) purchased the site and is the current owner.
For more information on the site, visit www.epaosc.net/MillsGap. Go to the Xpress Files here to read a series of documents about the CTS site.
— Margaret Williams