Press Release | July 30, 2013

Wateree Coal Ash Removal Ahead of Schedule

In a report filed under a settlement with the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation, SCE&G has reported that it removed 280,000 tons of coal ash from its coal ash lagoons on the banks of the Catawba/Wateree River outside Columbia, South Carolina.  The company removed the ash to a lined landfill for dry storage, away from the Catawba/Wateree River.  In addition, SCE&G converted its plant to dry handling of bottom ash, to eliminate its riskier wet storage in the lagoons.

Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, who represented the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation in the settlement stated:  “SCE&G is demonstrating that utilities can convert from risky and polluting storage of coal ash in unlined lagoons on the banks of rivers to safer dry storage in monitored lined landfills away from the river’s banks.  If SCE&G can take these responsible steps on the Catawba/Wateree River near Columbia, there is no reason why Santee Cooper cannot do the same thing on the Waccamaw River in Conway.”

The report was filed in accordance with a settlement of a suit filed in United States District Court by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of the Catawba Riverkeeper Foundation.  Under the settlement, SCE&G agreed to empty out its coal ash lagoons on the banks of the Wateree River, three miles upstream from the Congaree National Park.  The lagoons contained approximately 2.4 million tons of coal ash.  SCE&G’s removal is ahead of schedule.  Under the settlement, the lagoons are scheduled to be completely emptied by December 31, 2020.

The Southern Environmental Law Center has also filed legal actions on behalf of the Waccamaw Riverkeeper, the Coastal Conservation League, and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy seeking removal of Santee Cooper’s coal ash from wetlands adjacent to the Waccamaw River in Conway, South Carolina.  Santee Cooper’s lagoons contain approximately 1.3 million tons of coal ash, about half the amount originally in the SCE&G lagoons.  The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is considering a closure plan by Santee Cooper that would leave the coal ash by the Waccamaw in Conway forever.  Conway City Council has unanimously opposed Santee Cooper’s plan and has called for the ash to be removed.

Christine Ellis, the Waccamaw Riverkeeper, stated:  “Conway and the Waccamaw River should have the same protections as the Wateree River outside Columbia.  If SCE&G can do the right thing for the Wateree, Santee Cooper can do the right thing for Conway and the Waccamaw River.”

About the Waccamaw Riverkeeper
The Waccamaw RIVERKEEPER® is a program of Winyah Rivers Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization whose mission is to protect, preserve, monitor and revitalize the health of the lands and waters of the greater Winyah Bay watershed. Our goal is to protect our community’s right to fishable, swimmable and drinkable water. We pursue this goal through education and advocacy programs in support of our mission to protect our river resources. These programs are developed and implemented to increase the scientific literacy of our community, including local decision makers, and to engage them in environmental stewardship and planning for river resource protections.

About the Coastal Conservation League
Since 1989, the Coastal Conservation League has been working with communities, businesses, other conservation and citizen groups to protect what we love about the South Carolina coast. From the white sand beaches and pristine marshes to the freshwater swamps and pine savannahs, we focus on the most efficient and effective ways to protect natural habitats, the wildlife that depends on them and the variety of benefits they bring to this state. We also believe that the communities we live in, the air we breathe and the water we depend upon are important and that our quality of life deserves the same high level of attention. To learn more, go to

About Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is a nonprofit organization that promotes responsible energy choices that create global warming solutions and ensure clean, safe, and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.

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Press Contacts

Frank Holleman

Senior Attorney with a focus on litigation

Phone: 919-967-1450