The long awaited cleanup of a Superfund site in South Asheville will start in earnest this month. The site of a former CTS plant on Mills Gap Road contains a chemical common at Superfund sites according to Craig Zeller of the Environmental Protection Agency. That chemical is abbreviated TCE, and it was a common ‘de-greaser’ used in the 1950’s. He estimates it's found at 80% of Superfund sites. “In this particular case what CTS was doing at this facility was making hearing aids and electrical components. In that manufacturing process there was a need to electroplate those things with silver and tin. Before they went to the electroplating line they had to be de-greased to take off any oil that might be on the parts.”
As part of the cleanup of the site, the EPA will essentially boil the chemicals out of the ground. Drilling for the electrodes that will eventually heat the ground to 87 degrees Celsius starts this month according to Zeller. “It’s not going to be ‘bang bang bang’ drilling. It’s going to be augers that will be drilled into the subsurface. There’s going to be some noise during that three months of drilling from December through February.” The ‘boiling’ should begin in May and last through the end of next year. The heating of the chemicals will produce both water and vapor. The water will be filtered before it is released to the surrounding sewer system, while the vapor will be sent through a condenser that will burn off any remaining TCE.