CTS health study: lead found in area, but low risk of contamination spreading

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services released a health assessment today of the area surrounding the contaminated former CTS of Asheville site. The study declares that there is no elevated rates of cancer in a 1-mile radius, and little risk of contamination spreading, but also declares that new harmful substances such as lead have been found in the monitoring wells in the area.

The Jan. 12 study concluded that — besides those wells that had already tested positive for high amounts of tricholoroethylene, a suspected carcinogen — the chemicals identified in well water, soil and surface water samples “are not expected to harm people’s health,” though department officials recommend further testing of private wells and, if those wells are contaminated, connecting their users to municipal water.

However, NCDHHS also recommends limiting access to streams and springs near the east side of the CTS site, noting that these do pose a risk of spreading contamination: “Elevated contaminant concentrations have been identified in the springs and stream water, should they continue, may present an exposure hazard,” the document reads.

Further, the report is inconclusive about amounts of chromium and lead found in two of the six monitoring wells set up on and near the site for the study.

“There is not adequate information to determine whether groundwater with elevated lead and chromium has been, or is, a source for private drinking water wells,” the report reads, before suggesting further examination. The report found that the two monitoring wells had lead concentrations of 71 and 35 micrograms per deci-liter. Amounts of less than 10 micrograms per deci-liter are known to cause developmental and mental problems in children.

The report also asserts that North Carolina Central Cancer Registry “determined that cancer rates for the population living in a 1-mile radius around the CTS property were not elevated.”

Activists and residents in the area have asserted that federal and state agencies handling the cleanup of the site are more interested in covering up the damage than repairing it, and have lagged in their response. The same activists have produced a map showing 70 cases of cancer in the area.

In April of last year, EPA officials, speaking at a Buncombe County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, said they hadn’t found any evidence of new contamination. In August of that year, a well on Chapel Hill Church Road tested positive for TCE contamination 168 times greater than the legal limit. Area residents pointed to that finding as an example that groundwater contamination is spreading.

Both residents and county health officials have pressed for NCDHHS to release the study findings.

NCDHHS officials will review and discuss the results at a public meeting beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 21, at T.C. Roberson High School.

— David Forbes, staff writer


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

One thought on “CTS health study: lead found in area, but low risk of contamination spreading

  1. Mark

    Did anyone really expect the report was going to say anything different?

    So, to sum it up, “everything is fine. there is absolutely no risk just don’t get in or drink the water anywhere near the place.”

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.