Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) and Rep. Butterfield (D-NC) have proposed legislation on a national level that would nullify North Carolina’s statute of repose, paving the way for lawsuits related to toxic contamination to proceed.
POWER applauds the decision, as it is a first step to rectifying the injustice of the Supreme Court’s decision against the Asheville community in the CTS v. Waldburger case.
From the Congresspeople’s offices:
Hagan, Butterfield Introduce Legislation to Allow Justice for Individuals Harmed by Toxic Pollution
Bill Enables Camp Lejeune and CTS Victims to Seek Redress
June 27, 2014
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kay Hagan and Congressman G.K. Butterfield introduced legislation in the Senate and House that will protect the ability of North Carolinians harmed by toxic chemicals to seek legal recourse, including Marines harmed by contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune and families exposed to toxic chemicals at the CTS superfund site near Asheville. A recent Supreme Court ruling could prevent these individuals and families from pursuing legal recourse, and Hagan and Butterfield’s legislation clarifies that federal law preempts state laws that limit the timeframe in which damages could be recovered for injuries and diseases that often do not appear for decades after toxic exposure.
“This legislation clarifies the intent of existing federal law and addresses the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that delivered a major blow to the servicemembers and families affected by the water contamination at Camp Lejeune and the CTS site, making it nearly impossible for these victims to seek justice under the law,” Hagan said. “One short-sighted decision by the U.S. Supreme Court should not stand in the way of getting these victims the answers and justice they deserve.”
“North Carolinians and people across the country deserve protection from hazardous substances with the potential to endanger public health and the environment,” Butterfield said. “Those who release harmful substances into the environment have a responsibility to clean up contamination and address any suffering they have caused. This bill protects federal Superfund law as we know it, holds polluters accountable, and defends the rights of communities in North Carolina and across the country.”
In 2012, Hagan helped pass the bipartisan Honoring America’s Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act, which ensured that those who were exposed to contaminated water at Camp Lejeune will receive the health care they need and deserve from the VA. She was also instrumental in ensuring that the Department of Defense released documents related to the water contamination to the public.
Members of POWER recently met with Representative Patrick McHenry (R-NC10) regarding efforts to clean up the CTS site. McHenry pledged to support the cleanup effort by holding the EPA accountable for actions taken at the site.
In a June 25th hearing with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, McHenry advocated for EPA to take immediate action at the site. “Will the EPA urge CTS…to move forward immediately to address the…contamination?” he asked.
POWER thanks the Congressman for his on-point questions that address the most pressing concerns at the CTS site.
On Monday, June 23, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will host a public availability session regarding air sampling at the CTS of Asheville, Inc. Site.
EPA representatives and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS) representatives will be available to talk to citizens one-on-one regarding on-going activities conducted at the CTS of Asheville, Inc. Site. The EPA encourages those interested in attending to drop in between 6:00pm and 9:00pm at the Quality Inn & Suites, Biltmore Room located at 1 Skyline Inn Drive, Arden, NC.
During the week of June 23, 2014, CTS Corporation’s contractor, with EPA oversight, will conduct additional outdoor air, indoor air and crawl space air sampling at properties adjacent to or near the springs area located east of the Site. The proposed air sampling locations were selected based on the results of EPA air sampling in 2007 and 2008, and in consideration of the April 2014 air sampling results. The preliminary sampling results are expected to be received by the EPA the following week.
CTS Corporation, the company responsible for the pollution at the CTS of Asheville Superfund site, is taking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to court over its listing on the Superfund program.
“This is a highly toxic site,” stated Lee Ann Smith, chairwoman of POWER, “and it needs to remain on the [Superfund] list so that all necessary actions can be taken and EPA has the full resources to do what they need to do.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is now evacuating thirteen residents near the CTS of Asheville Superfund site, due to contamination of the air in and around their homes with the carcinogen trichloroethylene (TCE). CTS Corporation used TCE as a degreasing agent while they operated their Asheville-based facility from 1959 until 1986.
For several months now, POWER Action Group has been urging the EPA to conduct an interim removal action at the CTS site because of risks of exposure to area residents. Finding these high levels of TCE in the air vapor assessments is further proof that the contamination is migrating, poses a threat to human health and the environment, and that the source must be removed immediately.