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Water Protection Award

“Extra Mile to Protect Water” Award Presented to Buncombe County Board of Commissioners

POWER Action Group and Clean Water for North Carolina presented the “Extra Mile to Protect Community Water Award” award to the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners on October 21, 2014 in appreciation for the work done by Buncombe County to protect our community’s water resources. Clean Water for North Carolina is a statewide organization promoting clean, safe water and empowered, just communities through community organizing, advocacy, education and technical assistance.

Buncombe County award photo
Members of POWER and Clean Water for NC present the award in October.
Katie Hicks, Assistant Director of Clean Water for North Carolina, provided the following statement at the presentation:

“Although there has been much disappointing news around the still-toxic CTS site in recent years, we want to recognize the county’s efforts to protect residents’ health and safety near the site. This includes your decision to condemn and demolish the building, running public water lines to the area, and committing to conduct free well tests for residents who do not live within the 1-mile radius of the site currently being tested by the federal EPA. We also wish to thank you for your recent authorization to seek reimbursement from CTS so that the responsible party, not Buncombe County taxpayers, has to foot the bill. We look forward to continuing to work with the county to ensure that this toxic legacy in our community does not continue to have tragic consequences for residents’ health.”

“The Road to Cleanup” community meeting

“The Road to Cleanup” meeting on the evening of July 29th is sponsored and hosted by POWER (Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources) Action Group. POWER is a grassroots community organization, founded on the premise of environmental justice, that is pushing toward a comprehensive cleanup of the CTS of Asheville Site. 
The purpose of “The Road to Cleanup” meeting is to:
  • inform people of the latest developments at the site 
  • provide attendees with useful information from experts in various fields 
  • make clear the urgency for implementing expedited cleanup actions
Guest speakers include:
  • Scott Laseter, environmental law attorney
  • Frank Anastasi, hydro-geologist and technical advisor
  • Gibbie Harris, Buncombe County Health Director
  • Samantha Urquhart-Foster, EPA Remedial Project Manager
  • Glenn Adams, EPA Supervisory Toxicologist
Additional experts will be available to address concerns and answer questions. Federal, state and local lawmakers will also be in attendance. 
Come learn about next steps and how you can get involved. Get your questions answered, and hear what others are asking as well. We encourage everyone who is interested in achieving a cleanup of the CTS of Asheville Site to attend.
This is a great opportunity to show elected officials and the EPA that our community wants cleanup NOW.

POWER Announces Community Meeting with EPA

Concerned citizens in south Asheville and the greater Buncombe County area are invited to attend an informational meeting about the contaminated CTS site on Tuesday, July 29th at the T.C. Roberson High School auditorium from 6:00 to 7:30 PM. This meeting, entitled “The Road to Cleanup,” will provide the latest technical information on the contamination at the CTS site, outline steps necessary for immediate cleanup action, and allow a forum for residents to ask questions of technical experts and the EPA. The meeting is hosted by POWER Action Group, an Asheville-based non-profit advocating for a comprehensive cleanup at the contaminated CTS of Asheville Superfund site.


 The CTS site, a former electroplating facility run by CTS Corporation from 1959 to 1986, was declared a Superfund site in 2012. On July 8th of this year CTS Corp. lost a lawsuit against the EPA, confirming that the site will remain on the Superfund list.

 The main presenter at the meeting will be Frank Anastasi, P.G., Principal of SCA Associates and technical advisor for POWER. Mr. Anastasi will present an analysis of recent testing, and explain the urgency for EPA to take immediate action at the CTS site. Gibbie Harris, Buncombe County Health Director, will speak on the county’s expanded water testing program and extension of water lines to the area surrounding CTS.

 EPA representatives will offer updates on stream cleanup plans, and air testing and water/soil sampling. This is the first community-led CTS forum in over three years in which the EPA will take part.

 Because of the continuing release of carcinogens such as trichloroethylene (TCE) from the site, and the evacuation of thirteen residents near the site in June 2014, there is a pressing need for source removal at the CTS site. In a Congressional hearing, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy acknowledged that the site poses an immediate risk to public health in South Asheville. POWER continues to push for swift action at the site, and invites community members to attend this important meeting and learn what they can do to speed up the process of getting these toxins out of our community.

CTS Corp. Loses Lawsuit Against EPA



(ASHEVILLE- July 08, 2014) The D.C. Court of Appeals has ruled against CTS Corporation, deciding that the CTS of Asheville Superfund site must remain on the EPA’s Superfund inventory despite the company’s objections. CTS Corporation, which ran its Asheville facility from 1959 until 1986, sued the EPA in an effort to remove the contaminated site from Superfund. Finding that the site is indeed heavily polluted with carcinogens such as trichloroethylene (TCE), the court’s ruling in favor of the EPA will hugely benefit the Asheville community that is afflicted by CTS Corporation’s pollution.

 Claiming that CTS’s arguments amounted to “little more than methodological nit-picking,” the Court rejected CTS’s attempt to evade responsibility for its own contamination. “Each of CTS’s objections,” the court stated, “is without merit, forfeited, or impermissibly based on extra-record evidence.” In addition, the Court’s decision bolsters the EPA’s scientific assessment of the site, clearing the way for cleanup.

CTS Smackdown

 In large part, the EPA prevailed because of its rigorous on-site testing, which asserted CTS Corporation squarely liable for the pollution. According to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, the CTS site “can significantly impact public health” in South Asheville.

 “This is a great decision for the residents around the plant and for EPA,” Julie Mayfield, executive director of the Western North Carolina Alliance (WNCA), said in a statement. “CTS now has no shield left to hide behind, so hopefully they will change their approach and now work aggressively to complete the investigation and begin cleaning up the site.”

 POWER praises the court’s decision, as it will encourage EPA to secure clean water, air, and land for residents surrounding the CTS site. In light of the evacuation of thirteen residents near the site in June, it is imperative that EPA halt the exposure of residents to carcinogens such as trichloroethylene (TCE). With the CTS site’s placement on the Superfund list secure, EPA should now dedicate its resources towards comprehensive source removal, such that residents’ exposure to TCE is ended with all the urgency it demands.

To read the Asheville Citizen-Times article, click here.

To read the Court’s opinion, click here.

U.S. Congresspeople Push Justice for Those Harmed by CTS

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.

Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC)
Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D-NC)

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.

Following meetings with POWER, McHenry Advocates for Action

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.

See video footage here of McHenry Questioning the EPA.

EPA to Host Public Availability Session

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. Corp. Challenging Superfund Listing

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.”

Read the Asheville Citizen-Times article on the court case here.

The CTS of Asheville Superfund site.