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.