Press Release | April 23, 2024

Lack of DHEC oversight allows industry to self-regulate

Stormwater permit allows industry to hide water pollution from public

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Today, on behalf of every riverkeeper in the state, the Southern Environmental Law Center sent a letter to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) urging changes to an insufficient and illegal permit for industrial stormwater discharges. Under the current permit, the agency only requires a fraction of facilities to submit reports following pollution exceedances that cause contaminants to flow into public waters, leaving the vast majority to self-regulate without oversight.

The Black-Sampit Riverkeeper, Catawba Riverkeeper, Charleston Waterkeeper, Congaree Riverkeeper, PeeDee Rivers/Lynches River Project Coordinator, Savannah Riverkeeper, Waccamaw Riverkeeper, and Winyah Rivers Alliance signed onto the letter.

“Communities have been left in the dark for too long about industrial stormwater pollution that could threaten our health and waterways,” said Andrew Wunderley, Charleston Waterkeeper. “By making existing reports available to themselves and the public, DHEC can stop the practice of industry self-regulation, keep polluters accountable to the law, and protect our communities and environment from harmful pollution.”

The letter requests changes to the permit, including making public reports regarding benchmark monitoring, facility inspections, visual assessments, corrective actions, and site inspections. While permitted facilities are required to create these reports under the existing permit, they are not required to submit them to DHEC nor make them publicly available in any fashion. Doing so can only benefit communities by making them more aware of threats to their health and environment.

“We’re behind at least 37 other states that require submission of reports that can help inform us of health and safety threats,” said Ursa Heidinger, SELC Associate Attorney. “Stormwater runoff is one of the most significant sources of water pollution in the country, and there is no reason DHEC should allow industries to conceal their pollution in South Carolina’s rivers, streams, and water bodies.”

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Press Contacts

Rachel Chu

Communications Manager (SC)

Phone: 843-720-5270
Email: [email protected]