BUNCOMBE COUNTY, NC (WLOS) — A local mother pleads her case in the nation’s capitol, decades after dangerous chemicals were found at the site of an abandoned manufacturing plant.
CTS shut down its metal-plating operation on Mills Gap Road in Buncombe County 32 years ago. Since then, toxic chemicals have been detected in groundwater and soil in surrounding South Asheville neighborhoods.
“What’s really sad is that it has continues to as we speak now, there is runoff from the site,” local activist Lee Ann Smith said.
Smith has been pushing for CTS Superfund Site cleanup for about a decade.
Recently, her advocacy work caught the attention from the Center for Health and Environmental in Washington.
“We are pushing for a full-scale cleanup,” Smith said.
In 2017, a judge approved a $9 million plan to remove contamination from the property.
Over the past two years, the EPA has used underground heating and chemical injections to remove the toxic chemicals from the site.
But with skepticism over whether all chemicals would be removed, Smith and her team hired a hydrogeologist to advise them.
“That way we know where push EPA and the contractors, so if there is one area that is a little more contaminated, we can say, ‘Whoa, wait, why isn’t this on the radar for being remedied?’”
The fenced off empty lot sits about a mile from her home in South Asheville, and is a constant reminder of the harm it has potentially caused to neighbors and her family.
“The pediatric oncologist asked us if we’d ever been to Chernobyl, which we hadn’t,” Smith said.
She said about 12 years ago, one son was diagnosed with a rare thyroid cancer, the other with a bone tumor. The diagnoses prompted her to get involved in pushing for timely and proper cleanup.
“We just want it cleaned up so that people don’t continue getting sick,” Smith said.
Smith is calling on lawmakers, to support the Polluter Pays bill.
The bill includes collecting taxes from companies that produced chemicals, found in Superfund sites.
That money would then be used to clean up the hazardous waste.
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