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System to Treat TCE in Surface Water near Mills Gap Site (Former CTS Plant) to be Tested this Fall

Release Date: 10/03/2008
Contact Information: Laura Niles, (404) 562-8353,

(Atlanta, Ga. – October 3, 2008) EPA, CTS and Mills Gap Road Associates have reached an agreement to test a system that would treat trichloroethene (TCE) and other organic chemicals in springs near the former CTS plant in Asheville, N.C. A geological investigation to support the design of the system commenced this week and pilot scale testing is expected this winter, in accordance with a project time line. The agreement was memorialized as an amendment to the Statement of Work required under the 2004 Administrative Order on Consent between EPA, Mills Gap Road Associates and CTS Corporation.

The pilot scale testing involves injecting ozone underground where groundwater and the affected springs come together. Ozone, which is a powerful oxidant, destroys TCE through a chemical reaction. The study would determine if this method of injecting ozone will be effective given the local conditions. If the testing concludes that the ozone injection system significantly reduces TCE contamination in the springs, full scale implementation would follow. Because EPA believes that the TCE vapors detected in ambient air stem from surface waters that begin at the contaminated springs, it is possible that the ozone injection system at the springs would mitigate TCE vapors in ambient air, as well as in surface water.

The site is located off Mills Gap Road, approximately one mile east of Skyland, in Buncombe County, N.C. and consists of approximately nine acres of maintained grounds containing a large, single-story building. From 1959 to 1986, CTS operated an electroplating facility at the site. The chemical compound TCE was employed by CTS to clean and/or degrease metal objects prior to electroplating. In 1987, Mills Gap Road Associates (MGRA) purchased the site and is the current owner.

In 2002, EPA, CTS, and MGRA entered into an Administrative Order on Consent to conduct a Time-Critical Removal Action at the site. CTS and MGRA were required to address contamination in the area above the aquifer saturated with groundwater, and a Soil Vapor Extraction system was constructed for this purpose. The system was completed in July 2006 and has removed more than 3,600 pounds of contaminants.

In April 2008, ten springs near the former CTS plant were sampled by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) through a cooperative agreement with EPA. One spring was measured with elevated levels of TCE. EPA recently repeated the sampling of 72 homes within a one mile radius of the site.

NCDENR is the lead agency for the groundwater cleanup portion of the site. CTS, under the oversight of NCDENR, recently began a site assessment of groundwater with installation of the first set of groundwater monitoring wells.

The CTS Health Assessment, lead by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, is currently in the development phase.

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