Sampling results will determine next steps at CTS plant

During the final weeks of 2007, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources conducted sampling in the neighborhoods surrounding the former CTS of Asheville plant. In an effort to learn whether the ground water contamination there poses an exposure risk to nearby residents, the agencies sent out crews to test water from drinking wells, streams and ground water, as well as soil and indoor air. On Thursday, Jan. 31, the EPA will host a public meeting to bring residents up to speed on the agencies’ activities at the site. Representatives from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry and the Buncombe County Health Center, in addition to EPA and DENR officials, will be on hand to answer questions.

The abandoned electronics-manufacturing facility, located on Mills Gap Road in South Asheville, is the source of a suspected carcinogen called trichloroethylene, which has been detected at extremely high levels in the soil and ground water beneath the plant. A group of residents, many of whom live in an adjacent subdivision called Southside Village, have announced their intent to sue the CTS Corporation; Mills Gap Road Associates, the current property owner; and The Biltmore Group LLC, the developer of the subdivision, for a full cleanup of the site. Hot Springs-based attorney Gary Davis is representing the group. On Jan. 16, Davis, his clients, and other residents met at the Skyland Fire Department to share information in advance of the Jan. 31 meeting.

Stu Ryman, an environmental hydrogeologist employed by engineering-and-hydrogeology firm Altamont Environmental, was hired by Davis’ firm to observe the EPA and DENR sampling crews. “What we saw the EPA and DENR do, from a protocol perspective, seemed very reasonable,” Ryman said. But he also noted that the agencies hadn’t handed over all the information, such as maps and sampling plans, which they’d agreed to provide. As a result, he said, “we felt somewhat limited in terms of evaluating their efforts in advance.” Ryman did take his own samples, but declined to release the results.

And at press time, the sampling results from EPA and DENR were still being kept under wraps. On-scene coordinator David Dorian was unavailable for comment.

Whatever they may be, results will be important in determining what will happen next at the hazardous-waste site on Mills Gap Road.

The public meeting will be held Thursday, Jan. 31, at 6:30 p.m. at the Skyland Fire Department, 9 Miller Road, in Skyland.

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