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FLASHBACK: EPA wasted millions of dollars without even cleaning toxic pollution site, N.C. residents complain


(NaturalNews) One could naturally assume that electronic and computer parts and equipment would be a "clean" industry. Usually, there are no toxic smoke plumes or other obvious signs of pollution. Yet, more and more areas are discovering that electronic and computer industries are not so clean.

Citizens in the Ashville, NC, area are still reeling from the toxic aftermath of CTS Corporation's electronic component plant that was abandoned there in 1986.

The toxin discovered in the Ashville area's soil, streams, and groundwater is TCE (trichloroethylene) used by CTS Corporation in its electronic processing plants. It is a chlorinated solvent that's been used as a metal degreaser, chemical extractant and more recently has been used in electronic and computer components.

TCE's toxicity is not conjecture. It's "sound science" in lieu of corporations' unsound science and government agencies' rubber stamping their use before they can be proven dangerous.

Then, it's a big "oops" and clean-up that's preceded by class action lawsuits from neighboring victims after big profits are made with little or no liability or accountability.

A mega-study and analysis of many different studies, epidemiological, in vitro and in vivo, was published in March 2013 by Environmental Health Perspectives with the title "Human Health Effects of Trichloroethylene: Key Findings and Scientific Issues."

This study concluded without any equivocation: "TCE is carcinogenic to humans by all routes of exposure and poses a potential human health hazard for noncancer toxicity to the central nervous system, kidney, liver, immune system, male reproductive system, and the developing embryo/fetus."

Why Ashville residents are complaining after all these years

The EPA discovered TCE contamination from CTS Corporation's plant in 1990, after investigating it in 1988. CTS had abandoned that site in 1986. The plant was destroyed with local government funds, and a real estate company purchased it for a residential development.

Since then, CTS has expanded its operations more in the United States and worldwide into Mexico, Scotland, Taiwan, the Czech Republic, Singapore, Canada and China. Their reported first quarter revenue for 2014 was over $100 million.

Lori Murphy is among a group of neighbors who filed a federal lawsuit in 2011 against CTS for unspecified monetary damages and a court order forcing CTS to totally clean up the mess and cover the costs of what's been done by government agencies.

Lori's compliant echoed her neighbors' frustration. "I think there are a lot of wasted dollars in everything that's been done," she said, according to the Citizen-Times. "The endless testing is pointless. They know what's going on. Quit testing and clean it up, period." So far, at least $11 million has been spent without completing the cleanup.

Some of the $11 million has gone to bypass the groundwater pollution contaminating wells in the area by piping in city water, especially after a large patch of the plant's former ground was subdivided and developed.

The developers that bought the land parceled from the former CTS site were forced to use a vapor extraction system to remove TCE from the soil above groundwater.

But the contamination had already heavily saturated the groundwater, causing springs that provide water to wells nearby to be tested at 7,000 times North Carolina's allowable TCE levels in water.

The lawsuit has flip-flopped back and forth on technicalities and some dismissal demands from CTS, which should be covering most if not all of the costs. As of April 2014, the Supreme Court has agreed to review this case and render a final decision.

This TCE contamination is yet another example of allowing chemicals to be created and added for industrial use without long term environmental impact and living creature toxicity testing. It's a cousin to Monsanto's PCB and dioxin issues that continue to haunt us long after PCBs have been banned.

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