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POWER Receives $50,000.00 Grant!

This Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) is great news for our community! This funding will allow us to hire a technical expert who will interpret data and help us know how best to push for a full-scale cleanup. We will be advertising for the position very soon. If you are interested in applying for the Technical Advisor position, please watch this site, and other media outlets, for the job posting.

Following is POWER’s press release announcing the grant award:

LOCAL GROUP AWARDED $50,000.00 FOR CTS SITE CLEANUP

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 23, 2013

POWER Action Group, a community grassroots organization based in Arden, is the recipient of a $50,000.00 Technical Assistance Grant (TAG) from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The funds will be used to hire a technical advisor to interpret technical reports and proposed cleanup activities at the CTS of Asheville site. TAG funds will also be used for educating community members about health and environmental issues related to the site.

The CTS site, a former electroplating facility, has been fraught with conflict for decades. The carcinogen trichloroethylene (TCE) was used as a degreaser during the plant’s operation. TCE has been found at high levels on and near the former facility, continuing to threaten the health of hundreds of area residents. The CTS of Asheville site was added to the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL) in March 2012.

POWER Action Group applied for the Technical Assistance Grant to give the community a stronger voice in advocating for, and steering the direction of the cleanup.

Western North Carolina Alliance co-director Julie Mayfield issued a statement saying, “We applaud POWER for its persistent and constructive approach to securing a comprehensive and timely clean up of the CTS site. This grant recognizes the value they bring to the ongoing work and will help ensure their work will be even more effective going forward.”

TAG funding is administered by the EPA, and in accordance with the Remedial Investigation agreement between the EPA and CTS, the company is required to provide funding for the grant.

POWER will interview and hire the technical expert who will work independently on behalf of the community. Community members are invited to participate in the process of choosing the technical advisor, and those interested can reach POWER via their website at POWERactiongroup.org.

An article on the grant can be found here: http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20131025/OUTDOORS/310250021/

Delayed Testing Begins at CTS Site

In a step forward for the South Asheville community, POWER members have successfully advocated for delayed testing at the CTS of Asheville Superfund Site to be recommenced.

These tests, overseen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are designed determine the full extent of the contamination at the CTS Site. Such tests will lay the groundwork for a cleanup, or remediation of contaminated soil, at the site.

Testing has been initiated at the Site and is expected to last through December.

Lee Ann Smith, chair of POWER, said in a statement, “We are celebrating this sampling event because it will bring us one step closer to the full-scale cleanup that we seek. 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.”

As citizens continue to advocate for their health, this current round of testing will help safeguard people from carcinogens, such as trichloroethylene (TCE), dumped at the CTS site many years ago.

In this opinion piece for the Asheville Citizen-Times, Katie Hicks, the Assistant Director for Clean Water for North Carolina, discussed how the South Asheville community has suffered for decades due to CTS Corporation’s pollution. This new round of testing, she said, is “not an ultimate solution, but [it] is a step in the right direction, and cause to celebrate as community members continue to speak out for a full cleanup.”

To see the Asheville Citizen-Times’s report on the sampling, click here.

To see POWER’s press release regarding the testing, click here.

CTS Lawsuit Victory!

Raising awareness of contamination at the CTS site.
Raising awareness of contamination at the CTS site.

On Wednesday, July 10th, 2013, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court ruled in favor of community members (and against CTS Corporation) to encourage cleanup of the CTS of Asheville Superfund Site.

This is a profound victory for the South Asheville community. For all those families who have lived with fear of CTS’s chemical solvents impairing their health, for those individuals who have gotten sick, for all those who wish to see a healthy and vibrant community, the Court’s decision ensures our right to live without trichloroethylene (TCE) contamination in our backyards, wells, and very bodies.

The Court’s decision is a monumental step for healing.

In the lawsuit, the community is asking for:

  • judgment against CTS requiring reclamation of the 1,000,000 pounds of the toxic chemical contaminants
  • remediation of the environmental harm caused by CTS’s toxic chemicals
  • monetary damages in an amount that will fully compensate them for all the losses and damages they have suffered, or will suffer in the future

The Court’s decision says, “Our decision here will likely raise the ire of corporations and other entities that wish to rest in the security of statutes of repose, free from the threat of being called to account for their contaminating acts.”

POWER sincerely hopes that this decision will lead to much higher degrees of corporate accountability when it comes to toxic contamination.

Much gratitude to the Fourth Circuit Court, and to all those in and outside of South Asheville who are working to foster a clean and safe environment for all people.

POWER will keep pushing for cleanup, and we couldn’t do it without your support!

See the Court’s opinion here: http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Published/121290.P.pdf

A letter to President Obama

Note: this letter was submitted by Gabriel Dunsmith, a POWER member, in response to a call from the local newspaper to write letters to President Obama about issues of concern prior to his visit to South Asheville on February 13, 2013.

Dear President Obama,

South Asheville is suffering.

I know because I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age 11. I underwent intensive surgery and years of radiation treatment to rid the cancer from my neck tissue, my lymph nodes, and my lungs.

At the time of my diagnosis, my family and I knew little of the shuttered CTS of Asheville plant a mile from our house. But we soon learned that the abandoned factory was leaking the carcinogen trichloroethylene (TCE), used for decades as a degreaser—and then dumped out back.

TCE has migrated into my neighbors’ wells, into creeks I played in as a child, into our very homes. Meanwhile, CTS Corporation is alive and well, profiting on the suffering they inflicted upon Asheville. It is high past time for a full-scale cleanup. We need government intervention—and we need it now. For all the families with cancer, for all the children who are suffering, we need you, President Obama.

Making CTS Corporation pay for cleanup is the only way to right the wrong that CTS did to Asheville. Cleaning up this site should be part of a broader policy of eliminating toxic substances from the environment and protecting human life over corporate profit.

Asheville will always be my home, but this beautiful mountain town is not without its tragedies. And to rectify the injustices of the past, we need your help to shape a brighter future—and that starts with cleaning up CTS.

Sincerely,

Gabriel Dunsmith
Arden, NC