State Investigators Uncover Possible PCB Source - WSPA.com

State Investigators Uncover Possible PCB Source

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An Upstate water treatment facility says it is testing its pumping stations each week to help stop hazardous materials. An Upstate water treatment facility says it is testing its pumping stations each week to help stop hazardous materials.
SPARTANBURG COUNTY, S.C. -

UPDATE - August 29, 2013

South Carolina investigators released documents to 7 On Your Side that contain new information about the contamination of several Upstate sewer systems.

According to South Carolina's Department of Health and Environmental Control a PCB called "aroclor 1260" appeared in samples taken from a grease trap behind an abandoned Denny's restaurant in Duncan.

The same substance later appeared in testing on equipment at a Greer Company called American Waste. 

D-HEC ordered that company to "cease and desist" all operations after the contamination was discovered.

State health officials did not officially link the contamination at American Waste to the PCBs found in Upstate Sewers.

PCB Cleanup To Cost More Than Expected - August 28, 2013

The Spartanburg Herald Journal reports requirements for the clean-up of PCBs found in three Upstate sewer systems could have a dramatic impact on costs to the districts and their customers.

State and federal agencies told Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District the clean-up will be required to meet federal Clean Water Act regulations. Those requirements could bring the clean-up cost from the predicted $1.1 million to four or five times that amount. It could also mean a delay in all capital projects for this fiscal year.

The Environmental Protection Agency and DHEC says they want the clean-up plans at all three sewer systems to be similar. Right now consultants are working on those plans and eyeing clean-up efforts in other parts of the country.

Testing At Wastewater Plant Aimed At Stopping PCBs - August 27, 2013

An Upstate water treatment facility says it is testing its pumping stations each week to help stop hazardous materials.

The North Tyger Treatment Facility in Spartanburg hopes this will help determine where PCBs in area sewer systems are coming from.

Officials say someone illegally dumped those hazardous chemicals.

ReWa and Lyman say the contamination came from grease traps.

DHEC Seeks Information On Illegal Dumping of PCBs - August 22, 2013

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and three Upstate publicly-owned water treatment (POTWs) utilities say they need your help finding information about illegal dumping of hazardous materials into area sewer systems.

Through routine sampling, the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District, Renewable Water Resources (ReWa) and the Town of Lyman learned that substances containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) have been illegally introduced into the wastewater collection systems of each.

They say state and federal authorities are looking into where these materials came from.

The POTWs treat the wastewater to remove contaminants and produce effluent water and a solid waste byproduct.

They say each of the three POTWs determined the PCBs are being captured in the solid waste byproducts.

The byproducts that contain the PCBs are being separated into on-site holding basins or tanks for cleanup.

They say the POTWs have been tested and will continue to be tested and do not present any environmental concern.

DHEC says PCBs are chemicals used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors and other electrical equipment before being banned by Congress in 1979 because of evidence they build up in the environment and can cause adverse health effects.

DHEC is asking people to report any suspicious activities near any manhole, septage receiving facility or other location that could deliver wastewater to a treatment facility.

Call Crime Stoppers at 1-864-23-CRIME or 911 immediately or to report any other tips or other information to help identify the source of the PCBs, call DHEC's toll free 24 hour emergency response line at 1-888-481-0125. 

Impact On Future Projects

Officials say the drinking water is not at risk - but what is are projects and upgrades possibly put on hold because of the cost of cleanup.

Alan Johnson, Director of Public Works for Lyman says the chemicals can't go in the regular landfill. They have to be transported to a special site in Alabama. That extra care takes extra money.

Johnson estimates the disposal price at $250 thousand dollars and that's not counting the clean-up.

"That could possible add another $100 thousand dollars to it," said Johnson.

That cost has to come from somewhere.

"If it gets bad enough, we may have to look at rates, now I hate to even say that word, but hopefully we can get some assistance somewhere to try to alleviate this," Johnson explained.

Officials tell us someone illegally dumped hazardous materials into area sewer systems. PCBs were banned in the 1970's - so they're not even regularly tested for.

"I've been in the business for about 27 years and I've never seen anything like this," said Johnson.

The PCBs also showed up at the Spartanburg Sanitary Sewer District, where Sue Schneider estimates the cleanup at $1.1 million dollars.

"Instead of working on being able to replace our aging infrastructure, we're going to have to deal with this unplanned release into our system," Schneider explained.

For Renewable Water Resources, PCBs showed up at its Pelham Wastewater Treatment Plant.

The estimated clean-up there is $2 million dollars, according to Executive Director Ray Orvin.

"Some of that is built into our normal operating budget, some of it, will probably come out of a contingency somewhere," said Orvin.

7 On Your Side asked Orvin if that price tag could take away from future projects.

"If it is, it would be capital projects that will not directly environmentally impact the community," said Orvin. "There are some construction projects that we may slow down a little bit, put on the back burner, but otherwise I think we'll be fine."

The next step is working with DHEC and the EPA on a plan fortreatmentt and cleanup. That's when they'll know the final price tag and future impact.

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