Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control has been investigating illegal dumping of hazardous materials into sewer systems.
This investigation has resulted in the discovery of Polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, chemicals that were used as coolants and lubricants in transformers, capacitors, and other
electrical equipment, in wastewater systems in the upstate of South Carolina, and now has been discovered in Richland County.
DHEC has issued an Emergency Regulation (see attached PDF of the Regulation) to protect the environment while state and federal authorities conduct their investigations.
The PCB contaminated waste, from unknown sources, has been illicitly discharged into sewer systems, and the primary concentration of PCBs has been identified in wastewater treatment sludge from several public wastewater treatment systems.
Some South Carolina wastewater treatment systems are permitted for the land application of their sludge.
The federal Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) regulates PCB levels in sludge at levels equal to or greater than 50 parts per million (ppm). PCBs are not expected to be found in wastewater treatment systems, because they were banned in the United States over thirty years ago. Based on the suspected criminal activity, DHEC has determined the need for specific regulations limiting the land application of sludge containing detectable levels of PCBs.
DHEC wants to prevent illegally dumped PCBs from being re-introduced into the environment.
This emergency regulation applies to the land-application of sludge that is a by-product of wastewater treatment systems, and includes municipal wastewater treatment facilities, septage from septic tank management, and grease trap waste from interceptor tanks serving facilities such as restaurants.
The community is asked to report any suspicious activities near a manhole, septage receiving facility, or other location that has the potential for delivering wastewater to a treatment facility.
To report illegal dumping into manhole covers, restaurant grease receptacles, or any other suspicious dumping, contact CRIMESTOPPERS: at 1-888-CRIME-SC, or e-mail a tip in to www.midlandscrimestoppers.com. You can also text information in by texting "TIPSC" plus your message to CRIMES (274637). Either way you choose, your identity will remain anonymous, and you could be eligible for a cash reward.