Photo essay: Area residents demonstrate at CTS site

Late Tuesday afternoon, Oct. 19, commuters along Mills Gap Road in Skyland were presented with signs of life from the usually desolate gate to the former CTS of Asheville. Once an electroplating plant, the CTS site is widely believed to be the source of chemical contamination of soils on the grounds, as well as in the water wells of neighboring residents. Surrounding residents have been treated for cancer, tumors, immune disorders and a host of other health problems. The EPA is currently evaluating whether the property should be added to the National Priorities List for cleanup as a Superfund site.

Neighbors say they are tired of waiting for the agency to take action. As the late afternoon sun sank over Mills Gap Road on Oct. 19, the demonstration included a prayer vigil led by Brian Cole, minister at All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village, and homemade signs created by participants. North Carolina Rep. Jane Whilden was among those creating signs on display to passing drivers, who honked their horns and gave thumbs up as community members waved. Other participants, including several children, posted handwritten notes on the gate to the abandoned plant.

“Good Lord, deliver us from squandering resources, abusing our companion species, and polluting the habitat we all share,” said Cole as he led the opening prayer session. “From the folly of imagining ourselves free from the fate of your whole creation, good Lord deliver us.”


Gabe Dunsmith, CTS neighbor and cancer survivor, stands in foreground as other participants make their signs. Former CTS of Asheville plant lies beyond.
Photos by Susan Andrew and Katie Damien


NC Rep. Jane Whilden completes her sign.


NC Rep. Jane Whilden and others prepare for prayer vigil to begin.


Demonstrators positioned themselves along Mills Gap Road as the sun went down.


Participants posted messages on the gate to the abandoned CTS site.


CTS neighbor Lee Ann Smith, mother of cancer survivor Gabe Dunsmith.

Photos by Susan Andrew and Katie Damien

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