The lawsuits are still flying around between residents near the CTS Superfund Site in South Asheville, and the CTS Corp., but today there was a glimmer of hope that things are moving forward, if ever so slightly.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said today, Friday, Sept. 20, it will start sampling activities for the Soil Vapor Extraction Confirmation Sampling and Analysis Plan and the Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids Investigation at the CTS Superfund site off Mills Gap Road in South Asheville.
The work will include collecting soil and water samples to better understand how deep and wide the highest concentrated contamination exists on and adjacent to the former plant property, said Samantha Urquhart-Foster, EPA remedial project manager.
"The intent of the sampling is to find the most contaminated parts to the soil and groundwater to begin clean up," Urquhart-Foster said. "The work plans were approved in December 2012, but we hadn't begun work because we didn't have approval for some of the properties. But we decided to go ahead and start sampling."
"We were hoping it would start back at the beginning of the year, but we are glad that they are continuing with the sampling without stalling," said Lee Ann Smith, chair of a community group called POWER (Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources).
"We are celebrating this sampling event because it will bring us one step closer to the full-scale cleanup that we seek," Smith said.
Urquhart-Foster said the sampling will begin on the site of the former CTS plant and move outward. CTS manufactured industrial switches and resistors at the Mills Gap Road plant from 1959-87. Chemicals used at the site, including the industrial solvent trichloroethylene, or TCE, have been found in high concentrations in the ground and in nearby drinking water wells.
Residents have been pushing for action on a cleanup for years. They have alleged numerous health problems, including cancer, were caused by the contamination. Some homes have since been connected to city water, while others have had filter systems installed.
Smith, a teacher at Glen Arden Elementary School, has lived less than a mile from the former CTS site for nearly 20 years. Both of her children, who spent their entire lives in that home, are cancer survivors.
The EPA announced in March 2012 the site had been added to the National Priorities List of Superfund sites.