At CTS’ request, EPA targeting resident with contaminated well

David Bradley, 61, runs an insulation business out of his home on Chapel Hill Church Road, near the contaminated former CTS of Asheville site. Now, based on a request from CTS, the Environmental Protection Agency has demanded that Bradley give out information on his home as a possible source of contamination or face stiff fines.

“The United States Environmental Protection Agency is currently investigating the release or threatened release of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants, or hazardous wastes on or about the above-referenced Sites,” a June 25 letter to Bradley and his company reads. “Compliance with the Infornation Request is mandatory. Failure to respond fully and truthfully to the Infornation Request within thirty (30) days of receipt of this letter, or to adequately justify such failure to respond, can result in an enforcement action by EPA.”

Among other questions, the letter asks Bradley, “Did you ever use, purchase, generate, store, treat, dispose of, or otherwise handle at any hazardous substances at 14 Chapel Hill Church Road?” and “Describe the chemical processes that have been used at your property at 14 Chapel Hill Church Road, during the period of time when you owned, leased, and/or operated the facility. Specify which processes involved the use of trichloroethylene (TCE), perchloroethylene (PCE), toluene, or any other solvent or petroleum product.”

Bradley was placed on municipal water last August after 840 parts per billion of TCE — more than 168 times the legal maximum of the suspected carcinogen — were found in his family’s well. He tells Xpress he’s baffled and angry at the request. He doesn’t manufacture insulation and stores it in Fletcher, far away from the site the EPA is demanding information about.

“I don’t keep insulation here, I just work out of my house,” Bradley says. “I don’t make the insulation, I get it from distributors. I just install it. I don’t know what they’re trying to say, I just figure since they found so much of that stuff in my water, they’re trying to blame me for screwing the water up.”

He says that while he can’t prove a connection, a rash on his grandson’s arms and legs disappeared after his household stopped using the contaminated well water.

“The people who come out here from the EPA are nice,” he says. “There’s been a couple that said they know exactly where it’s coming from up there [at CTS], but I don’t know they’d come out and say that.”

“They [the EPA] say they’ll fine me $37,500 a day if I don’t answer the request,” he adds, before chuckling. “They’ll have a hell of a time getting it, ‘cause I don’t have any money, there’s no construction right now.”

However, in late September of last year, lawyers for CTS sent congressional staff a letter claiming that there could be other sources of contamination besides the massive electroplating plant, which is located less than a half-mile from Bradley’s property. The plant closed in 1986. CTS instead pointed the finger at, among other businesses, Gerber’s Henderson Road facility, a dry cleaner, a meth lab, the Volvo Construction plant — and Bradley’s home-based business.

“It is well documented … that various solvents and adhesives are used in the process of installing insulation and HVAC [heating, ventilation and air conditioning] components,” CTS’ letter reads.

EPA’s handling of testing and cleanup at the site has been sharply criticized by local residents and activists. In May, a report from the EPA Inspector General blasted EPA’s Region 4, which, along with state agencies, oversees the operation asserting limited oversight, along with poor record-keeping and communication, harmed the effort and failed to communicate the hazards to the public.

Bradley’s consulting with some attorneys and plans to fight the request.

“The government can do you any way you want to unless you got an attorney,” Bradley says. “CTS screwed it up. There’s nothing else around here that could’ve caused it. They thought they’d scare me, sending that letter. But piss on them. I’m not scared of them. I’m 61 years old, I’ve had a heart attack, I’ve had a knee replaced, and I ain’t going to take no shit off of them.”

— David Forbes, senior reporter

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7 thoughts on “At CTS’ request, EPA targeting resident with contaminated well

  1. dan

    cts is such a bunch of losers. own up to what you have done fix the water and land. and repay those who have lost property value. i cant imagine they feel good about themselves. they made tons of money illeglly now they must pay. tough crap. grow up and do the right thing. i wish i knew what companies the owners of cts opperate now so i can be sure to avoid them. Or maybe we can all crap in thier coffee everyday so they get a taste of the sht they are serving.

  2. cwaster

    Ah, the good ‘ole point the finger somewhere else. Nice job CTS. Why not just fix the problem they caused? No wait- let’s blame somebody else….

  3. tate macqueen

    It is EPA Reg IV as much as it is CTS. They are in bed together because EPA cleared the site in 1995 to be developed. All it took was malfeasance from Bunc County officials, state (DENR) and EPA to pull it off and exploit new retirees moving into a development at Southside Village on a dump site. NCDENR officials have admitted that they are aware of the dumping history by CTS in Southside Village. This story gets it almost all correct, but the level Xpress references at 840 ppb is off. That sample exceeded the calibration of EPA testing. When they diluted the sample and retested it was 1,400ppb and 1,290ppb, which is WAY HIGHER and a ten year old child was exposed. There are 49 non Hodgkin Lymphomas within 1 mile of the plant as admitted to by ATSDR and NC Public Health. More than 75 cancers within 1.5 miles of the plant and ZERO real clean up. Imagine this…if they can’t clean this site up, how in the world can EPA oversee the clean up in the Gulf.

    EPA has spent $502,000.00 on two reports, 10 pages and 40 pages respectively, which is MORE than CTS has paid for the soil vapor extraction, which has FAILED. Current levels of TCE in the groundwater exceed 40,000ppb of TCE.

    EPA trespassed on the Rice property in 1990 and knew then that the site was a disaster and never informed the Rices of the event or the results.

    Please take the time to call Shuler and Burr and Hagan to demand federal investigations into the handling of this…..

    Thanks-

    Tate

  4. Pat Dunn

    Are any of our elected officials paying attention to this? It is inconceivable that this has gone on as long as it has without any resolution! Instead of removing the contamination 20 years ago when it was known to exist, both the polluters and the agencies responsible for protecting the environment have allowed the contamination to spread. Clean it up already! No more studies, no more corporate manuevering. Just clean it up before more people are sick and more land is polluted! Now!

  5. Dave Ogren

    Tate is “right on” about this. There is another comment that I want to clear up. Not 20 years ago but 30 years ago. In 1980 this was a Super-Fund site of 57 acres #NCD003149556
    And what about the EPA’s own April 4, 2002 Administrative Letter of Enforcement that said basically dig it up and clean it up. They don’t even enforce their own actions and now appear to becoming even more corrupt. It is not the EPA as a whole there are a lot of good people there but Region 4 (our area) is totally corrupt. Their own co-workers will tell you that.

  6. Patricia Pinner

    It is criminal that the CTS site has gone unattended to (cleaned-up) as long as it has, and now to start accusing the citizens of contaminating the land is incomprehensible. What next EPA? Why not just ask us to do your job for you, seems that is what we must do anyway…collect our own data, substantiate our own concerns, and seek our own remedies. This is EPA’s job…hello?! I hope our local/state/federal officials will see the light, open their ears and eyes and do what is right, what is expected of them by those they work for. Thank you. May God continue to bless America…and may America put their faith back in God.

  7. Aaron Penland

    Stop the cover up, Start the cleanup!!!! If you live anywhere near the old CTS plant you’ve seen the sign. EPA has had the information for decades. As Tate noted the EPA & CTS are in bed together, how else can you account for the years that have transpired without any REAL action. EPA has tried to pacify the community by installing 2 different machines[ both of which are pilot projects ] which have had little or no impact on the environment or the water supply, above and below the ground. The chemicals that the EPA are testing for go farther than just TCE, they also include Cyanide, Benzine & Chromium VI. I personally have lost 10 family members in 10 yrs to Cancer. It is time for all people who value life to stand together & say enough is enough!! If we allow these practices to continue there will be no future for our children, only sickness and disease. Take heed & take action or we’ll be just as guilty as the ones we are fighting against. Also check out clean asheville. info for more info about the cts site.

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