DANGER: DIY signs at CTS plant

Since residents living nearby CTS of Asheville began voicing concerns about the contamination at the former CTS of Asheville plant, a hazardous-waste site on Mills Gap Road owned by Mills Gap Road Associates, the question of posting a sign has arisen again and again.

Should a sign be put up to warn people that the area is contaminated? Back in October of 2007, State Rep. Charles Thomas indicated that nothing was in place to warn youth not to enter the shell of the former factory, which is covered in graffiti. “It looks like an attractive nuisance,” he said. “There is no warning to let you know that while it looks like a fun place to play, it could give you cancer.”

“No Trespassing” signs are posted outside the CTS of Asheville plant. And as part of an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency, CTS Corporation posted a sign on a newly constructed fence outside the contaminated spring on adjacent property, which is not visible from the road. That sign indicates that the water may be unsafe, and provides the phone number of the EPA Emergency Removal Response Branch.

However, until recently, no sign was posted outside the factory indicating that it’s a hazardous-waste site, where it would be visible to anyone passing by. “Several members of the community have informally contacted me about that,” says David Dorian, federal on-scene coordinator for the EPA, while on speaker phone from Atlanta. “The community interest actually ran the spectrum from people not wanting signage to people wanting signage.” At a public meeting held Jan. 31, says Dorian, the EPA offered to assist residents with forming a community-advisory group that would tackle questions such as whether or not there should be a sign there. “We haven’t heard anything back,” he adds.

But someone, apparently, grew tired of waiting for a decision to be made. Sometime in the last several days, three homemade signs made with plywood and black permanent marker were posted outside the fence. “Toxic Waste,” one reads. “Hazardous Chemicals / Don’t move into any area nearby.” Another states, “People have died of cancer.”

For more CTS coverage, see “Looking for Answers,” (Nov. 7 Xpress), “Green Scene: Residents Angry About CTS Contamination,” (Oct. 24 Xpress), “Under Pressure, Agencies Visit Hazardous-Waste Site,” (Oct. 3 Xpress), and “Fail-Safe?” (July 11 Xpress).

— Rebecca Bowe, contributing editor

Photo by Jonathan Welch

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