Portion of Swannanoa site to be reclassified

Fred McCormick

Half of the huge Chemtronics Superfund site in Swannanoa may be placed under conservation easement administered by the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, according a Oct. 15 meeting at Bee Tree fire station.

The 1,056-acre site designated as a Superfund site in 1983 is likely to be redefined next year.

There is no evidence of contamination on 530 of 1,056 acres, as indicated in an ongoing feasibility study, said Stu Ryman of Altamont Environmental, an Asheville-based environmental consulting firm in charge of creating a plan for bringing the land back.

Robb Fox, the attorney speaking for Chemtronics, said that the company was looking for a low-intensity use for the property.

“There were a variety of different options that we were looking at, but I think we have narrowed it down to essentially one,” he said. “We’ve been working with the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, and our goal is to put a conservation easement on this property through an agreement with them that would, in effect, be in perpetuity.”

The agreement between Chemtronics and the land trust would prevent the land, in the Bee Tree community, from being used for development in the future.

William Anfin is the vice chair of the community advisory group that formed in 2013. The group acts as liaison between Chemtronics, the community and the Environmental Protection Agency. Anfine believes Chemtronics is making the right decision by allowing the land to be conserved.

“From my own personal point of view, I’m excited about the conservancy,” Anfin said. “I think it’s a win-win. I think it will bring the land back to the state where it will be environmentally friendly. It also won’t have a chance to be used commercially.”

Recently a remedial investigation report on the site was submitted to the EPA, which will send representatives to the community advisory group’s regular montly meeting, happening next on Nov. 19. Joining them will be representatives from the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Altamont Environmental will also be at the November meeting to present up-to-date findings from ongoing feasibility study, which is expected to be finalized in early 2016.

Swannanoa Superfund Community Advisory Group November meeting will be held at the Swannanoa Fire Department on 510 Bee Tree Road at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 19.