New contaminat­ion emerges in Mills Gap; neighbors await municipal water hookups

At a kitchen table in the Mills Gap community in South Asheville last night, neighbors of the former CTS of Asheville plant met to plan next steps, after two new domestic wells nearby recently tested positive for industrial contaminants including cyanide.  CTS has signed an agreement with EPA to provide filtration to all homes within a one-mile radius of the recently demolished plant; but neighbors say they were anticipating municipal water hookups.

NC lawmakers hear testimony from DENR, CTS neighbors on contaminat­ion case

A Statehouse committee chaired by Buncombe Rep. Tim Moffitt convened in Raleigh Jan. 17 to question DENR officials and hear from residents near the former CTS electroplating facility on Mills Gap Road south of Asheville. Here, Moffitt embraces CTS neighbor Dot Rice, whose family’s spring was contaminated by hazardous chemicals used at the plant; numerous Rice family members have become gravely ill.

County issues requiremen­ts for former CTS facility to escape demolition

The case of the contaminated former CTS facility in Mills Gap has taken a new twist, as Buncombe County last week responded to the property owner’s appeal of its move to demolish the derelict plant building. The county provided property owner Mills Gap Road Associates with a list of measures needed to prevent demolition as scheduled.

The EPA gets earful from Mills Gap community

On Thursday, April 14, Environmental Protection Agency officials hosted another in a long series of community meetings about the contaminated CTS site in south Asheville. Just a few weeks ago, the EPA had announced that the vacant Mills Gap Road property was being proposed for the National Priorities List (aka the Superfund program). But with a final decision not coming till September, the EPA convened the April 14 meeting to report what resources are available to local residents. Photo by Katie Damien.

Hagan, Burr, Shuler send letter to EPA urging prompt clean-up at CTS site

In a relatively rare moment of bipartisan action today, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Sen. Richard Burr, along with Democratic Rep. Heath Shuler, sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency, urging it to hasten its efforts to clean up the contaminated former CTS of Asheville site.

Mills Gap resident Leigh Ann Smith displays her message regarding the contaminated former CTS of Asheville site. Photo by Katie Damien.

EPA proposes adding local CTS site to Superfund list

In September 2010, Environmental Protection Agency officials announced they would consider proposing that the contaminated CTS site be added to the National Priorities List — that is, the Superfund program. Today, March 8, 2011, the EPA said it has taken that step and recommended that the property, located on Mills Gap Road in south Asheville, be added to the NPL of Superfund sites. The federal Superfund program is charged with investigating and cleaning up “the most complex uncontrolled or abandoned hazardous waste sites in the country,” the EPA press release says.

Seeking relief: CTS neighbors file lawsuit

Photo by Jonathan Welch
Residents who live near the contaminated former CTS facility on Mills Gap Road have waited for years for cleanup, and as the time draws closer for EPA’s review of the site for inclusion on the National Priorities List (which would place it among the most severely contaminated sites in the U.S.), residents have decided to wait no longer. A group of 16 individuals and families filed suit against the Elkhart, Ind.-based corporation yesterday in federal court. Complainants include Tate MacQueen, spokesperson with the advocacy group Citizen’s Monitoring Council, which has worked to get the issue noticed and addressed, and Lee Ann Smith, whose young sons were treated for cancer after they were exposed to high levels of contaminants in a stream flowing from the CTS property near their home.

EPA branch chief pledges CTS site will be cleaned up

In a perhaps unintended act of irony, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency representatives offered bottled water, chocolates and rubber squeeze balls in the image of the Earth to neighbors of the contaminated former CTS site during a Sept. 9 community meeting.

Don Rigger, a key official from the Region IV office in Atlanta, apologized for the agency’s past mistakes and assured the long-suffering neighbors of the Mills Gap Road site that it will be cleaned up — though he stopped short of saying when.