Sandy Mort’s “health assessment” needs to be reassessed

The document referenced in “State Health Assessment Finds Most CTS Neighbors Not at Risk” [March 2 Xpress] is a slap in the face to Arden residents by Sandy Mort of N.C. Health and Human Services. People who live near the abandoned CTS site 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 states, “groundwater contaminants, including the volatile organic compounds trichloroethylene and vinyl chloride, are not expected to harm people’s health.” In fact, vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen, is No. 4 on the ATSDR’s “Top 20 Hazardous Substances List.” TCE ranks No. 16.

Mort claims vinyl chloride has not been found off site; however, in 2004, in a stream down-gradient from CTS, MACTEC Engineering detected vinyl chloride at seven times the legal limit.

Mort likewise does not reveal the astronomical levels of TCE discovered around the CTS site, stating “[off-site] levels were lower than the levels expected to harm people’s health.” In 2007 Xpress reporter Rebecca Bowe sampled a spring in Southside Village. Pace Analytical found its TCE content to be 630 parts per billion (126 times the drinking-water legal limit), which topped out their measuring instrument (see “Fail Safe,” July 11, 2007 Xpress at

Another finding Mort neglects in her final report actually appears in the January 2010 draft of her document. It reveals a well in The Oaks subdivision that, in 2007, tested at 57 ppb for TCE.

The dangers of these chemicals are not debatable. As the mother of two children who have survived tumors (one a benign bone tumor, 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 posed by the abandoned CTS facility.

Though some area residents have been placed on municipal water, noxious waste continues to flow through streams where children and animals play. This is unconscionable. The mess needs to be cleaned up and CTS should foot the bill.

Sandy 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 the Facebook page “Clean Up CTS Asheville.”

— Lee Ann Smith

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