A promised conference between government officials and Mills Gap Road area residents who live near the contaminated site of the former CTS of Asheville plant has been canceled, and the residents are crying foul.
"As best we can figure out, as soon as they heard that we were inviting media to come, they bailed out," activist Aaron Penland tells Xpress. "At 11 a.m. the morning before the meeting, they canceled."
The meeting arose after area residents turned out in force to call for the county to run municipal water lines out to Chapel Hill Road, where a well was recently found to be contaminated with tricholoroethylene, a suspected carcinogen that's been found in groundwater around the abandoned factory site. The activists also blasted federal and state agencies' handling of the situation, asserting that there was "no trust."
Members of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners said they were sympathetic to the residents' concerns, and offered to set up a meeting with county, state and federal officials where they would explain the county's situation and what it could and couldn't do.
"My understanding is that there was some trouble with the clerk's office getting the state and federal officials to meet on that date," Department of Social Services Director Mandy Stone, who oversees the county's CTS efforts, said of the cancellation.
But the cynicism remains, Penland says.
"We want the media there so the public can see what they're saying to us, so they can see the frustration we have at the inactivity of the county on this issue," Penland says. "We've seen the information, they've seen the information; its time to act."