Parties to Test Ozone Treatment on TCE in Surface Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, CTS Corp., 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., according to an Oct. 3 press release.

A geological investigation to support the design of the system has begun and pilot-scale testing is expected this winter, in accordance with a project time line.

The 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, 10 springs near the former CTS plant were sampled by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Samples showed that one spring contained elevated levels of TCE. EPA recently repeated the sampling of 72 homes within a one-mile radius of the site.

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