EPA hosts community meeting at Skyland Fire Dept. to review CTS clean-up strategies Nov. 30

SIGNS OF DISTRESS: Over the past decade, signs like the one above have been affixed to the fence surrounding the CTS site by community members (and subsequently removed). While some folks are cautiously optimistic that the new interim remedial action plan will finally begin cleanup at the source of pollutants, others say that EPA has waited too long to act and want officials held responsible for past mistakes and oversights. Photo special to Xpress.

From the United States EPA:

Work is underway at the CTS of Asheville, Inc. Superfund Site (Site) to install the treatment system that will clean up contaminants in the groundwater and soil beneath the former CTS plant. EPA will host a public meeting to discuss the details of the treatment system and answer questions. The meeting will take place on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Skyland Fire Department, 9 Miller Road in Asheville, N.C.

Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH) will be used to treat contaminants in the 1.2-acre source area beneath the former CTS plant at 235 Mills Gap Road. These contaminants include trichloroethene (TCE) and light nonaqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) from weathered fuel oil. CTS has contracted with TRS Group, Inc. to install and operate the treatment system, with oversight from EPA.

ERH is a technology that heats the ground to extract and treat hazardous substances. Electricity runs through electrodes, heating the soil and groundwater to vaporize the contaminants. The vapors are captured and removed through extraction wells. Contaminated vapor is then treated above ground before being discharged to the air.

Site preparations began in October 2017, and drilling will begin in December 2017. Construction of the treatment system is expected to be completed in May and it will operate through the fall of 2018. The system is expected to extract at least 95 percent of the TCE from approximately 47,250 cubic yards of material, removing an estimated 20,000 pounds of pollutants.

Monitoring will be conducted while the system is operating to protect on-site workers and the surrounding community. Continuous, real-time ambient air monitoring will be conducted during treatment at four fence line locations, and will be set to alarm if exceedances of action levels are detected.

Dust control measures will be implemented during installation of the treatment system. The treatment system will operate 24/7, except during confirmation sampling. During treatment, the CTS Site will continue to not be accessible to the public. There will be 24-hour site security, including personnel, lights and cameras, while the system is operating. The streets and any area outside of the treatment system will be safe to use as normal. People walking down the street will not notice a change in temperature.

The ERH treatment at the CTS Site is required under a March 7, 2017, interim cleanup settlement between EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice with CTS Corporation, Mills Gap Road Associates and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation. The settlement also requires In-Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) to treat TCE in an approximately 1.9-acre area to the north of the area being treated by ERH. The cleanup plan was expanded to include this second phase in response to public input. A treatability study for the ISCO portion of the cleanup is scheduled to begin January 2018.

The companies will spend an estimated $9 million total on the ERH and ISCO phases of the interim cleanup. The interim cleanup will be followed by a final site-wide cleanup to address any contamination remaining after the ERH and ISCO technologies have had a chance to work, which will take several years. EPA and the potentially responsible parties will complete the Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study to evaluate options for the final remedy. EPA will then propose the plan to the public for input before selecting the final remedy.

The CTS of Asheville, Inc. Superfund Site was the location of an electronics manufacturing and electroplating facility that operated from 1952 until 1983. International Resistance Company (IRC) built the plant and operated it from 1952 until 1959. Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, one of the settling parties, is the corporate successor to IRC. In 1959, the plant was purchased by CTS of Asheville, a division of CTS Corporation. CTS manufactured electronic components at the site from 1959 to 1983. In 1987, CTS sold the property to Mills Gap Road Associates, a general partnership focused on real estate development, which still owns the site. The CTS Site has been unoccupied since the mid-1990s, and the buildings have all been demolished.

Historical use of solvents in the manufacturing of electronic components at the CTS Site contaminated the soil and groundwater with TCE and other volatile organic compounds. TCE has been linked to various illnesses in people, ranging from effects on the central nervous system, liver, kidneys and immune and endocrine systems to certain types of cancer.

The start of the cleanup at the CTS Site follows the announcement of the Superfund Task Force recommendations to improve the Superfund program.

On July 25, 2017, Administrator Pruitt accepted recommendations from the EPA task force established on May 22, 2017, to revitalize the Superfund program.

The task force’s recommendations focused on five overarching goals: expediting cleanup and remediation, reinvigorating cleanup and reuse efforts by potentially responsible parties, encouraging private investment to facilitate cleanup and reuse, promoting redevelopment and community revitalization and engaging with partners and stakeholders.

Work to prioritize and reinvigorate the program by the task force has begun and will continue.

The Superfund Task Force Recommendations can be viewed at: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/superfund-task-force-recommendations

More information about the CTS Site: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/cts-millsgap

A copy of the settlement, which is memorialized in a consent decree, is available at:

About Max Hunt
Max Hunt grew up in South (New) Jersey and graduated from Warren Wilson College in 2011. History nerd; art geek; connoisseur of swimming holes, hot peppers, and plaid clothing. Follow me @J_MaxHunt

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