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Treatment Begins at CTS of Asheville Superfund Site


Federal officials say treatment is underway to clean up contaminants at the former CTS Corporation factory in Asheville.  

Below is the news release from The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

 ATLANTA (June 8, 2018) – Treatment is underway to clean up contaminants in the groundwater and soil at the CTS of Asheville, Inc. Superfund Site (Site). Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH) is being used to treat a 1.2-acre area beneath the former CTS plant. The system will operate through the fall of 2018 designed to extract 95 percent of the trichloroethene (TCE) in the treatment area, removing an estimated 20,000 pounds of pollutants.

“I am pleased to announce the start of this aggressive treatment to clean up a portion of the CTS Site,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn. “The treatment will remove contaminants, helping to protect people’s health and the environment in the surrounding area.”

“Cleaning up these sites requires hard work to both identify contamination and then determine how to improve it,” said North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) Secretary Michael S. Regan. “I am proud of DEQ’s hard work and partnership with EPA Region 4 to do this critical work well as a part of our mission to protect all North Carolinians and be good stewards of our environment.”

Historical use of solvents in the manufacturing of electronic components contaminated the CTS Site with TCE. The area being treated also contains non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) from weathered fuel oil. ERH is a technology that heats the ground to extract and treat these types of hazardous substances. Electricity runs through electrodes, heating the soil and groundwater to vaporize contaminants. The vapors are removed through extraction wells and treated before being discharged to the ambient air, which will be monitored.

System startup and testing began on May 29, 2018, and reached full operating power today. Underground temperature will be raised gradually to vaporize the TCE. Emissions from the stack are being monitored together with continuous, real-time air monitoring at four locations around the perimeter closest to neighboring residences. If TCE is detected above Western North Carolina’s regulatory limit of 59 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3), actions will be taken to meet the standards. There may be a visible steam-like discharge from the stack. This is water condensation caused by weather conditions, not a release of TCE vapor.

The ERH treatment at the CTS Site is required under a March 7, 2017 settlement between EPA and the U.S. Department of Justice with CTS Corporation, Mills Gap Road Associates and Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation for an interim cleanup. The settlement also requires In-Situ Chemical Oxidation (ISCO) to treat TCE in an approximately 1.9-acre area to the north of the area being treated by ERH. The companies will spend an estimated $9 million total on the interim cleanup. A final site-wide cleanup will be selected in the future to address any contamination remaining after the ERH and ISCO technologies have had a chance to work over several years.

Site Background


The CTS of Asheville, Inc. Superfund Site is located at 235 Mills Gap Road in Asheville, North Carolina 28803. International Resistance Company owned and operated the site from 1952 to 1959. It manufactured electronic components. CTS Corporation also manufactured electronic components used in auto parts and hearing aids at the site from 1959 to April 1986. Mills Gap Road Associates (MGRA) purchased the 53.54 acre site in 1987. MGRA sold 44.89 acres to the Biltmore Group, LLC in 1997, which developed the 44.59 acres into a residential subdivision. The remaining 8.65 acres where the old facility was located is fenced and has been vacant since the mid-1990s. The building was demolished in December 2011. The site was proposed to the National Priorities List (NPL) in March 2011 and became final on the NPL in March 2012.


More information about the CTS Site: https://www.epa.gov/superfund/cts-millsgap

Helen Chickering is a host and reporter on Blue Ridge Public Radio. She joined the station in November 2014.