EPA Samples Private Wells near Mills Gap Site

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will continue the process of obtaining access agreements to private drinking water wells and begin sampling approximately 36 newly-accessed wells this week near the Mills Gap Site, site of the former CTS plant, in Asheville, N.C.

Agency representatives will be going door-to-door to residents in areas within a one-mile radius of the former CTS plant as part of continued requests to gain access to private wells for sampling purposes. Well sampling will be conducted free of charge.

An August 19 preliminary data sampling result from a private drinking water well located northeast of the plant indicated elevated levels of trichloroethene (TCE) at levels above the maximum contaminant level and triggered the emergency response program to provide bottled water to affected residents. The affected well was not part of the ongoing Private Well Monitoring Network, in which approximately 50 private wells within a one-mile radius are sampled and results are reported to the community quarterly, because the property-owner had declined EPA’s previous offers to sample the well.

As a result of the door-to-door drinking water well survey, EPA has added approximately 36 new wells to the Private Well Monitoring Network. These new wells will be sampled, and a second round of sampling will begin as soon as authorization is granted for additional newly accessed wells in the area.

Only wells currently used as drinking water sources and not included in the current Private Well Monitoring Network will be sampled this week. These wells are being added to the existing Private Well Monitoring Network, and the next quarterly sampling event for all wells is scheduled for the week of Oct. 12.

EPA will be asking residents within a one-mile radius of the former CTS plant for access to their private wells so that they may be sampled. If any resident within a one-mile radius of the site has not granted access for well sampling, but would like to, they should call 800.241.1754. Well sampling data is necessary to assess the safety of the community’s private well drinking water source and to gain further site assessment data as part of EPA’s and North Carolina's ongoing study of groundwater contamination in the area near the former CTS plant.

The Mills Gap Site is located off of 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.

CTS and MGRA, under agreement with EPA, are currently addressing TCE-source contamination in the area above the aquifer saturated with groundwater with a Soil Vapor Extraction system. The system was completed in July 2006 and has removed more than 6,000 pounds of contaminants. EPA is also conducting an investigation at the Mills Gap Site and in the surrounding community to determine if the site qualifies for cleanup under EPA’s National Priorities List, a list of EPA national priority sites with hazardous contamination. This includes an ongoing attribution study at the Oaks Subdivision to determine the source of groundwater contamination there.

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