CTS of Asheville Site
Site Summary Profile
EPA ID: NCD003149556
Location: 235 Mills Gap Road Asheville, NC 28803
Lat/Long: 35o 29' 35.07"N, 82o 30' 21.43"W
Congressional District: 11
NPL Status: Final
Affected Media: Soil, Surface Water, and Groundwater
Cleanup Status: Removal Action Ongoing, Remedial Investigation Started
Remedial Project Manager: Samantha Urquhart-Foster
Community Involvement Coordinator: Angela Miller
In June 2014, after elevated trichloroethylene (TCE) levels were detected inside three homes, all three affected families agreed to temporarily relocate. EPA provided relocation assistance and has been working closely with the residents until a vapor collection system could be installed in the springs and follow-up air sampling from November 2014 confirmed it is effectively reducing TCE concentrations.
TCE both inside the residences and in the outside air between the springs and nearby homes have dropped below EPA’s regional recommended chemical/site specific removal management level (RML) for TCE. RMLs are values used by EPA to help determine if a removal action may be needed. On November 17, 2014, EPA received a summary table of the validated data and notified the affected families that they could return home. For more information, please see our Press Release .
The vapor collection system will continue to operate as long as necessary to protect human health and the environment. Repeat air sampling will be conducted at these three homes in December 2014.
The CTS Site is located at 235 Mills Gap Road in Asheville, Buncombe County, North Carolina. It is in an area known as Skyland, which is approximately 5 miles south of Asheville. The CTS Site is bordered by Mills Gap Road to the north, and residences and undeveloped land to the east, south, and west.
In 1952, International Resistance Corporation purchased 66.4 acres, located at 235 Mills Gap Road. International Resistance Company completed construction of the building and began metal plating operations in 1953. CTS of Asheville, Inc. acquired the property in 1959. CTS of Asheville, Inc. manufactured electronic components used in automotive parts and hearing aids. This included electroplating with tin, nickel, zinc and silver. Prior to plating, the parts were cleaned using TCE as a solvent. Operations at the facility ceased in April 1986. In 1987, Mills Gap Road Associates purchased 53.54 acres of the site. In 1997, Mills Gap Road Associates sold 44.89 acres to the Biltmore Group, LLC and retained ownership of the remaining 8.65 acres. The Biltmore Group developed the 44.89 acres into a residential subdivision. Historically manufacturing activities were conducted at the 8.65 acre fenced portion of the site currently owned by Mills Gap Road Associates. During Mills Gap Road Associates ownership of the site property, it leased portions of the facility to various tenants, including Arden Electroplating. The facility has been vacant since the mid-1990s.
In 1985, EPA conducted a Preliminary Assessment (PA) to evaluate the CTS facility. The PA did not find evidence of a release of contamination from the operations at the CTS facility, so no further action was recommended. In 1991, after CTS Corporation notified the State of North Carolina of the presence of contamination at the facility, EPA conducted a sampling investigation and discovered heavy metals and chlorinated solvent contamination. However, this investigation failed to identify a nearby spring, which provided drinking water for two homes. EPA again concluded that no further federal action should be taken at the site. In 1993, the State of North Carolina added the site to their Inactive Hazardous Waste Site Priority list for further investigation.
Following a citizen complaint in 1999, the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (NCDENR) sampled a spring that supplied water to two homes next to the CTS facility. NCDENR found contamination from TCE and petroleum compounds in the spring and a nearby residential well. EPA responded, provided bottled water to the affected families and connected four residences to the municipal water system.
In 2001, and again in 2006, EPA conducted more in-depth investigations of the site. In both instances, EPA concluded the site did not qualify for the National Priorities List (NPL).
In 2007-2008, EPA found TCE contamination in four private wells in the Oaks Subdivision, located approximately ¾ mile northeast of the CTS facility. As a temporary measure, EPA provided bottled water to affected residents in the Oaks Subdivision, until Buncombe County connected them to the municipal water supply. After sampling 72 private wells in September 2008, EPA began to monitor the wells on a quarterly basis. In August 2009, EPA sampled a residential well on Chapel Hill Church Road that was not on the monitoring network and found the well to be highly contaminated with TCE. EPA responded by supplying the residents with bottled water and subsequently connected the residents to the municipal water system. TCE has not been detected in private drinking water wells in the monitoring network since August 2009.
EPA proposed the Site to the NPL in March 2011 and finalized the Site on the NPL in March 2012. CTS Corporation challenged EPA’s decision to place the Site on the NPL. The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled in EPA’s favor and the site remains on the NPL.
EPA and NCDENR investigations found contamination primarily in ground water near the site and in the soil beneath and behind the old manufacturing building. Ground water at the site is primarily contaminated with chlorinated solvents, such as TCE, cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cis-DCE), and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (TCA), part of a chemical family commonly referred to as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Of the chemicals found, TCE is the primary contaminant of concern. TCE is a nonflammable, colorless liquid with a somewhat sweet odor and a sweet, burning taste. Mainly used as a solvent to remove grease from metal parts, TCE is also an ingredient in adhesives, paint removers, typewriter correction fluids, and spot removers. Degradation products, chemicals that occur as the main chemical breaks down, were also measured at elevated levels. Those chemicals are cis-DCE, 1,1-dichloroethene (1,1-DCE) and vinyl chloride. Petroleum products have also been found at the site.
Cleanup and Related Activities:
In addition to the on-going sampling and investigation activities underway at the site, EPA and/or CTS Corporation has conducted a number of actions and activities to address soil and ground water contamination at the site and associated threats to human health and the environment. Such activities have included:
- Temporarily relocating three families beginning in June 2014 after elevated TCE levels were detected inside their homes. EPA provided relocation assistance until a vapor collection system could be installed in the springs (operating since mid-October 2014) and follow-up air sampling from November 2014 showed it is effectively reducing concentrations of TCE from the air both inside and outside homes.
- Providing alternate water supplies to affected residents with contaminated wells.
- Providing whole house water filtration systems and water sampling as a precautionary measure to homes located within a mile radius of the site that rely on well water.
- Operating a Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE) System to cleanup contamination in the soils resting above the water table. This system uses a series of wells and equipment to create a vacuum in an effort to withdraw solvents from the soils above the water table. The system started operating in July of 2006, and removed more than 6,000 pounds of solvents. Although this amount represents a significant reduction in site contamination, the effectiveness of the SVE is limited to the soils above the water table and does not clean the deeper contamination the in the saturated zone. Conducting an ozonation system pilot study in the nearby contaminated springs.
- Installing an air sparging and vapor extraction system in the springs area on property adjacent to the eastern border of the former CTS facility.
Remedial Investigation Activities
Prior to 2012, CTS Corporation had been conducting an assessment of the site contamination under the review of NCDENR as required by North Carolina state law. More information about the site sampling and site characterization efforts is available here.
In January 2012, EPA and CTS Corporation entered into an Administrative Order and Settlement Agreement on Consent for Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (Remedial AOC). EPA and NCDENR are overseeing all work conducted by CTS Corporation.
CTS Corporation selected AMEC Environment & Infrastructure, Inc. (AMEC) as their contractor for the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS). The work for the RI/FS is divided into phases of priority and includes conducting a Vapor Intrusion (VI) Assessment, continued monitoring of private wells, conducting a Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (NAPL) Investigation, and then other RI/FS activities to fill in the data gaps.
In September 2012, CTS Corporation’s contractor, Culligan, began installing whole house water filtration systems for homes within a one-mile radius of the site that rely on wells as their drinking water source. As of November 1, 2014, Culligan had installed systems to protect the drinking water in over 100 homes and are currently in the process of removing the systems as homes connect to the municipal water supply. Culligan provides routine maintenance of the systems at no cost to the home-owners. If you live within a one-mile radius of the site and desire to have your home evaluated for the filtration system offer, please contact Samantha Urquhart-Foster at 404-562-8760 or Angela Miller at 678-575-8132.
In October 2012, AMEC collected air samples for the VI Assessment at locations within South Side Village subdivision, which is located adjacent to the western border of the site. The results were within acceptable health based risk levels. In April 2014, AMEC collected air samples for the VI Assessment at three homes adjacent to the eastern border of the site. In June 2014, AMEC collected air samples at additional homes nearby to determine the extent of air contamination. In October and November 2014, AMEC collected air samples at homes east of the site.In February 2014, CTS’ contractors completed the field work for the NAPL Investigation Work Plan and Soil Vapor Extraction Confirmation Sampling Plan. EPA requested that CTS Corporation submit a work plan for a Focused Feasibility Study for the NAPL source area. The Feasibility Study will evaluate several cleanup options to address the NAPL. AMEC submitted a NAPL Area Focused Feasibility Study Work Plan to EPA in August 2014. EPA provided comments to AMEC on this work plan and AMEC responded to the comments in October 2014. EPA is currently reviewing AMEC’s response to comments.
Public Health Assessment
North Carolina Division of Public Health (NCDPH), through a cooperative arrangement with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), has completed a Public Health Assessment (PHA) and a Health Consultation for the site. NCDPH released the PHA in January 2011. In July 2013, NCDPH released a Health Consultation which focused on a review of drinking water, surface water and sediment samples collected by EPA during 2010 and 2011. For more information please contact NCDPH at 919-707-5900.
EPA has been investigating the liability of potentially responsible parties
for the CTS Site for a number of years. In connection with EPA's site
investigations, EPA has sent Information Requests and notice letters to all
identified potentially liable parties (PRPs) associated with the site. In 2002,
EPA´s preliminary Potentially Responsible Party (PRP) Search showed that CTS
Corporation and Mills Gap Road Associates were potentially responsible parties.
In April of that year, EPA signed an Enforcement-Lead Action Memorandum that
directs the responsible parties to contain, remove or substantially reduce the
hazardous waste in the soil located above the water table and beneath the plant
In 2004, EPA entered into an Administrative Order on Consent for Removal Action (AOC) with CTS Corporation, the former operator at the time of disposal for the Site, and Mills Gap Road Associates, the current owner of the Site.
In January 2012, EPA and CTS Corporation entered into an Administrative Order and Settlement Agreement on Consent (AOC) for Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS). All work conducted by CTS Corporation will be overseen by EPA and NCDENR.
EPA and NCDENR have mutually conducted a broad range of community involvement activities to involve the community and solicit their input. They have made substantial efforts to ensure that the Asheville community remained informed about site activities throughout the site cleanup and evaluation process. Outreach activities have included public notices and information meetings regarding site progress and activities. Outreach activities have also included work with the local government. ATSDR has also engaged in outreach activities along with EPA and NCDPH to inform the community on contaminants of concern. EPA staff distributes Community Update Information Sheets monthly via email. If you would like to be added to the email distribution list, please contact Angela Miller or Samantha Urquhart-Foster.
EPA awarded a Technical Assistance Grant to the community group known as POWER (Protecting Our Water and Environmental Resources) Action Group. POWER Action Group hired Frank Anastasi of SSA Associates to serve as their independent technical advisor. EPA is aware of two community groups that have formed regarding this site. The original community group is led by Glen Horecky. POWER Action Group, is led by Lee Ann Smith. Please contact them if you are interested in joining their group or would like more information about their group.Future Work
EPA will continue to oversee the work CTS is currently conducting under the removal AOC as well as the remedial AOC and remain responsive to the concerns of the public. Future work planned for the site includes continued private well sampling; installing, monitoring and maintaining well water filtration systems; completing the VI Assessment; completing the NAPL investigation; and determining additional data needs in order to complete the RI/FS.
You may visit the site information repository for more information or to view site-related documents. The repository is located at:
Pack Memorial Library
67 Haywood Street
Asheville, North Carolina 28801-2834
To view related reports, see these documents:
- National Priorities List Site Narrative, March 2012 (PDF) (1 pg, 33 K, About PDF)
- Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (PDF). (61pp, 3.73M)
For documents not available on the website or in the Site repository, please contact the Region 4 Freedom of Information Office.