Tell the truth about CTS!

The document referenced in “Flu Who? State Health Assessment Finds Most CTS Neighbors Not at Risk” (March 2 Xpress) is a 146-page slap-in-the-face to area residents by Sandy Mort of North Carolina Health and Human Services. People who live near the abandoned CTS site in Arden have dealt with life-threatening maladies for years from contaminants such as vinyl chloride and trichloroethylene (TCE) seeping from the site.

In her “health assessment,” Mort does indeed state, as Xpress reports, “groundwater contaminants, including the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene and vinyl chloride, are not expected to harm people’s health.” Just for the record, these two chemicals do harm people’s health. Vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, is No. 4 on the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s “Top 20 Hazardous Substances List,” followed only by arsenic, lead and mercury. TCE ranks No. 16 on the same list.

In her final report, Mort claims vinyl chloride has not been found offsite. However, in 2004, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting detected vinyl chloride at 15 parts per billion in a spring down-gradient from CTS; that’s seven times the legal limit of 2 ppb.

Mort likewise does not reveal the astronomical levels of TCE that have been detected in and around the CTS site, and she even states “[off-site] levels were lower than the levels expected to harm people’s health.” Yet, in 2007 a spring in Southside Village was sampled by Xpress reporter Rebecca Bowe. Pace Analytical Service analyzed the sample at 630 ppb (126 times the legal limit in drinking water), which topped out their measuring instrument. Pace stated “the actual amount of TCE present could be a good deal higher because the recorded level exceeded the range of their instruments (July 11, 2011 Xpress).”

Yet another finding Mort mysteriously neglects is one that actually appears in her January 2010 draft of the document. It reveals a well in The Oaks subdivision that, in 2007, tested at 57 ppb, 11 times the legal limit, for TCE.

The dangers of these chemicals are not debatable or open to conjecture. TCE and vinyl chloride are toxins that harm humans. As the mother of two children, both of whom have survived tumors (one a benign bone tumor, and the other a malignant thyroid cancer), I am disheartened that a representative of the N.C. Department of Public Health omits pertinent evidence of contamination and will not admit to the dangers in my community posed by the abandoned CTS facility.

The fact that some area residents have been put on municipal water supply does not alleviate the poisons that remain in, and flow through, the area. TCE has even been found as far away from the site as Cane Creek (Buncombe County Board of Commissioners’ Briefing, April 21, 2009). Children still play in nearby streams and creeks; dogs still drink the water. All in all people and animals are still exposed to noxious waste every day. This is unconscionable. The mess needs to be cleaned-up, and CTS should foot the bill.

Mort is in a position to advocate for us; instead we have to fight against her as well as CTS, and in the meantime people continue to get sick.

For more information, visit “Clean Up CTS Asheville” on Facebook, or

— Lee Ann Smith


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