Today, a resident of the Mills Gap Road area showed Xpress reporters busted barrels at the border of the contaminated former CTS of Asheville site, which he asserts may point to chemical dumping responsible for groundwater contamination in the area.
Photos by Jonathan Welch
“You can see here there’s concrete, along with old pieces of their building, when they expanded the back end of their building, they brought the pieces back here,” Mills Gap Road resident Tate McQueen said, pointing to the concrete, dirt and remains of green barrels wedged up against a fence adjoining the property of the Rice family, the first, in 1999, to see high levels of trichloroethylene contamination, a suspected carcinogen. “CTS stated their property was clean [when the plant was shut down in 1984] and this absolutely defies what they’ve said.”
About 60 feet downhill from the barrels is the home of Larry Rice, Jr. Some 2003 reports from the EPA referenced “green polyethyelne drums” but didn’t specify their location.
“There’s a reason why they’re pushing all their stuff to the edge of the property,” McQueen says. “The question from NCDENR and MacTech [a company assigned by CTS to cleanup the site] is: why are these barrels still here? There is no reason to pour wet concrete over these materials. Why hasn’t it been excavated? It’s right above these folks’ property.”
He adds that the Rice family informed EPA about the barrels as far back as 2002. Local activists and residents have sharply criticized local, state and federal officials for their response to the issue, which they assert have been negligent, placing the residents of the area at risk.
“That’s the lid of a 55-gallon lid,” he says, pointing just past the fence labelled with “No Trespassing” signs. “This is part of the evidence of what the company did to dispose of their waste.”
The CTS site has been investigated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and groundwater contamination — sometimes at hundreds of times the EPA’s allowable limit — found in a number of wells in the area. Earlier this month, the EPA moved one step closer to placing the site on the national Superfund list and, at a meeting with residents, EPA Branch Chief Don Rigger swore that the site will be cleaned up.
— David Forbes, senior news reporter