The final step for DHEC (Department of Health and Environmental Control) is to gauge public support for its recommended course of action. DHEC could order a $5.4 million cleanup, but that seems unlikely as public sentiment at a public hearing, held at Laurens Elementary School, seemed to go along with the lesser figure. The work needs to be done in a timely manner, and DHEC is leaning toward an $800,000 clean-up at Plant 1 (owned by ACI) and a $1.6 million cleanup at Plant 2 (owned by CeramTec).
3M and GE will pay to have the site cleaned up, based on what SC DHEC orders, an audience of about 30 people was told. They had lots of questions – about monitoring wells, creek water, a swimming pool at the site where waste was buried, water table contamination, and a nearby trailer park where residents drank well water for many years.
Residents near the plant site – and anyone interested in the environmental matter – have 30 days in which to submit written comments to DHEC in Columbia. Addie Walker, with the Columbia office, is the project manager.
More technical information about why DHEC is ordering a cleanup is available at the Laurens Library. The CeramTec site is at 1 and 2 Technology Place, Laurens, off Hwy 14.
The ceramics plant came to Laurens in 1960, as a subsidiary of 3M. Contamination was discovered in 1988. The industry was made subject to a DHEC Consent Order (steps to stop contamination) in 1997. In 2016, the materials handling area in Plant 1 was closed out.
This area was one of the contamination sources, and a waste pond, a landfill (which does not have a liner) and two wastewater ponds east of Plant 2 were closely monitored.
Residents near the plant were assured, there are no harmful chemicals escaping from the plant site. All contamination is contained on the CeramTec site, the DHEC officials said.
The on-site contamination is not dissipating as quickly as officials would like – hence, the cleanup order process has begun. The process has 8 criteria for deciding what cleanup alternative to order – cost is Criteria 7, and public response is the final, Criteria 8.
One chemical of concern – Tetrachlorethene (PCE) – is found at 9,000 ug/L at its highest concentration on the plant site. Maximum concentration allowed by federal law is 5 ug/L.
A DHEC statement says, “The Department is presenting this proposed plan to inform the public of our activities, gain public input, and fulfill the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP).”
The public comment period for the CeramTec site cleanup proposal is Feb. 6 – March 9.
More information is available from Walker, 803-898-0722, or the DHEC website: www.scdhec.gov/publicnotices
DHEC’s preferred cleanup for this contaminated site is:
Plant 1 (ACI Industries), Alternative 3: Enhanced Reductive Dechlorination for the Source Area Groundwater and Monitored Natural Attenuation (MNA).
Plant 2 (CeramTec Industries), Alternative 4: Source Area Soil Vapor Extraction, Enhanced Reductive Dechlorination in the Entire Plume and a Biosparge.
The alternatives range from 1 (no action) to 4/5 (most expensive action).
No decision will be announced until after March 9, 2018.