Contamination May be More Widespread than Thought
CTS Corp. has been paying for testing of the site under the supervision of the EPA. Now CTS has agreed to expand the testing area to include a plume of contamination West of the site that is approximately the size of 90 football fields.
Here is a news article: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/05/16/tests-look-contamination-spread-cts-site/27451743/?fb_action_ids=10204611527629869&fb_action_types=og.comments
CTS Corp. Tries to Stop Professor from Teaching Students About Superfund Site
UNCA professors Jeff Wilcox, who appears in My Toxic Backyard, has been testing with permission on the Rice family's private property right next to the CTS site. Using the CTS superfund site as a real world example of environmental contamination and how groundwater can move, Dr. Wilcox has been teaching about the site in his classes for years. Recently, the CTS Corporation, through its lawyers, have been harassing the professor by issuing a cease and desist order and also trying to get the state licensing board to revoke his credentials as a geologist. Unfortunately big companies trying to intimidate educators out of doing research for their classes that might reflect badly on the company is not uncommon.
Here is a news article: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/05/05/superfund-site-gives-unca-profs-lesson-politics/26934603/
Buncombe County Tries to Recoup Money Spent on Waterlines
When it appeared that Buncombe County residents were in immediate danger and no government agency nor private company was going to do anything to help them, the county commissioners decided to step in and run waterlines to residents who were still drinking well water and risking exposure every time they turned on a faucet. They borrowed money in order to begin the work, the money they borrowed came from taxpayers. Superfund money is designated to be used in efforts such as this when a site is orphaned (when the parties responsible no longer exist.) However, the CTS Corporation does still exist and according to the EPA’s own definition, they are supposed to compel responsible parties to pay for testing and clean up. However it appears that CTS Corporation has only paid for testing and vapor extraction systems that some argue aren’t even working effectively. The county ended up spending over 2 million dollars to do the work. They are now attempting to recover the taxpayer money that was spent in this endeavor.
City Waterline Installation Begins!
Local government approved running municipal water lines (that the city gets from a protected aquafer far away) the money used to do this will come in the form of a loan from the state. It’s not how our system was set up to protect people from contamination. The EPA is supposed to compel the contaminator to pay for measures like this. But it’s better than continuing to let people drink from potentially contaminated well water. Isn’t it?
A community update from the EPA: https://www.buncombecounty.org/common/health/2014-05-16-cts-community-update.pdf
The Rice Family Returns Home
5 months after the EPA told the Rice family to evacuate their homes because of unsafe levels of TCE in the air, the Rices were told it was safe for them to return home. But the Rice family doesn’t trust that their air is safe. One family member overheard that the EPA had simply run out of money.
The Rice Family is Evacuated
The Rice family was evacuated from their homes (there were more family and renters in addition to Dot Rice and her husband living on the land) after new air tests revealed that the levels of TCE in the air in their homes was 8 times higher than what current EPA regulations allow. They had been complaining about the smell for a long time. I'm glad to see the EPA taking some action here to get them out of harm's way.
Here is a TV news story: http://youtu.be/o3HZBKzjqbw
Here are a news articles: http://mountainx.com/news/epa-evacuates-three-families-near-cts-superfund-site-in-south-asheville/
The case goes to the Supreme Court!
"CTS v. Waldburger" is the case brought by members of the community against CTS Corporation. In My Toxic Backyard there is mention of a court case that was thrown out by the district court. Members of the community appealed that ruling and the case eventually found its way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court only hears arguments in about 75 cases per year and this was one of them. The argument was over whether the state law in North Carolina (which says you only have 10 years from the time contamination happens to bring a case) would hold up against the federal law (which states you have 10 years from the time you find out contamination has happened.) The Supreme Court found in favor of CTS Corporation. This has set a devastating precedence for others in the state, such as the thousands of marines and their families who were victims of similarly contaminated water at Camp Lejeune.
Here are news articles on the case:
Here is the supreme court's Syllabus: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/13pdf/13-339_886a.pdf