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Supreme Court to Hear CTS Case

Obama admin, company align against N.C. dump’s neighbors in Supreme Court showdown

Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter
Greenwire: Tuesday, April 8, 2014

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — When her son was 11, Lee Ann Smith was told what no parent wants to hear: Your child has cancer.

Three years later, she braced for another diagnosis. Her younger son had developed a large bone tumor in his leg.

“I was numb,” she recalled.

The tumor turned out to be benign, but it spurred Smith to search for the causes of her sons’ illnesses. Her family had no history of cancer or tumors.

She focused on an abandoned electroplating facility suspected of contaminating groundwater with solvents, some of which were known carcinogens. Her boys played in the creeks behind the shuttered plant.

Smith formed an activist group dedicated to a cleanup. And, in 2011, she and two dozen of the site’s neighbors filed a lawsuit against the plant’s former owner — CTS Corp. of Elkhart, Ind. — seeking damages and hoping to force the company to take remedial action.
Continue reading Supreme Court to Hear CTS Case

POWER Calls on EPA to Remove Uncontrolled Contamination

Recent data shows that a large amount of TCE (a known human carcinogen) continues to migrate without control from beneath the CTS of Asheville site. The former electroplating facility was added to the EPA’s Superfund list for high-priority toxic sites in March of 2012, meaning that it poses significant risk to human health and the environment.

The site is at the top of a hill relative to hundreds of homes within a one-mile radius. POWER is concerned because a large amount of already identified unconfined source material (TCE) is still present under the CTS facility. Because of bedrock fractures, it is not clear exactly where this uncontained mass of TCE is going.

Data from 2009 show extremely high concentrations of TCE in two top-of-bedrock monitoring wells on the site: 35,000 parts per billion (ppb) and 42,000 ppb. The EPA’s maximum contaminant level for TCE in drinking water is 5 ppb, so these levels are thousands of times higher than what is considered safe. The continued leaching of this toxin presents a threat to humans, animals and the environment well beyond the gated perimeter of the CTS facility.

POWER is calling on the EPA to STOP and REMOVE the known high levels of contamination oozing uncontrolled from the CTS site and DO IT NOW.

Technical Advisor Hired for CTS Site

Asheville, NC – Frank Anastasi is the new professional Technical Advisor hired by grassroots community group POWER (Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources). Anastasi will provide guidance during remediation of the CTS Superfund Site in South Asheville.

In March 2012 CTS of Asheville, a former electroplating facility, was added to the EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL). The carcinogen trichloroethylene (TCE) has been found at high levels on and near the former facility. POWER recently received a $50,000.00 Technical Assistance Grant to employ a consultant.

Anastasi is an independent hydrogeologist and environmental consultant with over 30 years experience in contaminated site investigations and remediation projects. “Proven technologies are available to address the problems at the CTS site,” Anastasi said, “I look forward to helping POWER and the community advocate for taking effective remedial action as soon as possible.”

Anastasi has worked on Superfund sites since 1985. In the late 1980s, he began supporting citizen groups concerned about contamination in their communities.

“We are excited to have Frank on board,” said Lee Ann Smith, chair of POWER. “Frank’s broad experience working across the full spectrum of hazardous waste site cleanups, coupled with his deep technical knowledge and understanding of the Superfund process, will strengthen POWER’s ability to have the community’s concerns addressed.”

Melody Markert, a local resident who helped choose the technical advisor, commented that during the interview Anastasi seemed knowledgeable, caring, and understanding of the issues. “He has a good concept of what we are wanting to accomplish and how to go about resolving the problems in a manner that will best serve our children, families,
neighbors, and the community of Asheville, now and in the future,” Markert said.

Anastasi believes that education is an important component of contaminated site cleanup efforts. “I help local citizens understand the reality of their situation. Regardless of how thorough, no remedial action is complete unless concerned members of the community understand what has happened,” Anastasi said. “The community has to live with the legacy of having a Superfund site for a neighbor, long after the dust settles and EPA, the polluters, and all their lawyers and contractors have left town.”

Download a PDF of this press release!

POWER Chair to speak at local church

Earth & Social Justice Potluck & Discussion – Unitarian Universalist Church of Asheville
1 Edwin Pl, Asheville, NC 28801 (Directions)

Topic: CTS Superfund Site in South Asheville
Tuesday, February 18, 5:30pm (SH)
The history of the CTS of Asheville site is one of incessant chemical contamination and human suffering. It was named a Superfund site by the EPA in 2012. Please join us on February 18 as we welcome guest speaker, Lee Ann Smith, a South Asheville resident and co-founder of the P.O.W.E.R. Action Group. She will share her story about how CTS has directly impacted her family, the community she lives in, and what we can do to help. FMI, contact Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper.

Property Owners Adversely Affected by CTS– You Can File a Claim

Many people in the Arden/South Asheville area have been adversely impacted by the CTS site. If you are one of those you might be interested to know that the Dungan Law Firm is hosting a meeting on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the Skyland fire Department. The CTS case will be discussed, with emphasis on the property owner’s time limitations for filing a claim. Attorneys Jeffrey K. Stahl, Robert Dungan, and Joseph Anderson will be at the meeting to answer questions. If you are interested in acquiring representation you may sign up with the attorneys on Wednesday.

If you have questions regarding the lawsuit or the meeting, please contact:

Jeffrey K. Stahl

The Dungan Law Firm

828-254-4778, ext. 32

CTS Lawsuit Headed to Supreme Court

The lawsuit that members of the South Asheville community filed against CTS Corporation is headed to the Supreme Court. After the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the community, CTS Corporation–the company that has polluted South Asheville for decades–appealed. Last week, the Supreme Court said that they would hear the appeal.

The Court’s decision could have powerful implications for citizens’ lawsuits against polluters and for the Environmental Justice movement in general, which calls for “universal protection” against toxic wastes. While POWER would have rather the Court have rejected CTS’s appeal, we believe the Supreme Court now has the opportunity to enforce a full-scale cleanup of the CTS of Asheville Superfund site and provide a precedent for contaminated sites–and inflicted communities–across the nation. Read more about the lawsuit here:

As the EPA continues to test for toxins at the site, POWER will work to hold the Agency accountable. Read the most recent EPA community update here: CTS Community Update 12.11.2013.

POWER is hiring a Technical Advisor

POWER is soliciting proposals for a technical advisor to provide assistance in the review and analysis of cleanup activities conducted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region IV at the CTS of Asheville Superfund site.

For the job description and how to apply, click here (PDF). Applications are due January 10, 2014 by 5:00 p.m. and should be sent to

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:



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

An article on the grant can be found here:

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: