2 million tons of coal ash removed from banks of Wateree River in S.C.

Spider lillies bloom in the Wateree River. (© William Graf)

Under a settlement agreement with SELC and the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, SCE&G reports that more than 2 million tons of coal ash and underlying soil have been removed from its coal ash lagoon on the banks of the Wateree River near Columbia, South Carolina. The coal ash lagoon was estimated to contain approximately 2.4 million tons of coal ash originally, and this report shows that the cleanup is over 75 percent complete. As the coal ash has been removed, arsenic contamination of groundwater has plummeted. Arsenic levels have dropped more than 90 percent since the settlement was reached in 2012 and extensive coal ash removal began.

“The progress at Wateree demonstrates that utilities can store their coal ash responsibly and protect our rivers and water resources,” said Senior Attorney Frank Holleman. “This section of the Wateree River is cleaner and safer than it has been in decades.”

All of South Carolina’s utilities are committed to remove all their coal ash from unlined riverside pits and move it to lined, dry storage or recycle it into cement and concrete.

Last week, in another SELC case, a federal judge ordered the Tennessee Valley Authority to follow the same process of excavating coal ash and moving it to dry, lined storage at its Gallatin plant, upriver from Nashville. The order is the first of its kind from a federal court.

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