Saluda River Pollution Could Lead to Clean Air and Water Act Lawsuit
The lower Saluda River is officially recognized by South Carolina officials as a scenic river. On hot summer days, South Carolinians can be seen paddling through the white water rapids, fishing, or swimming in calmer parts of the river.
However, toxins dumped into the river, from sewage to industrial waste, could lead to lawsuits through the Clean Air and Water Act.
Environmentalists in the state have fought for two decades to end sewage discharges into the Saluda River, and they are finally threatening to take a private utility from Lexington to court.
On Monday, November 4th, the Congaree Riverkeeper organization issued a legal notice that it will sue the Carolina Water Service in the next 60 days if the company does not stop polluting the river with wastewater discharged from their plant near Interstate 20.
The notice blamed Carolina Water Service, the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the US Environmental Protection Agency for allowing the discharges to continue for years. A 1995 permit requires Carolina Water to close the Lexington plant and tie into a regional system when that system becomes available, in order to help protect the Saluda River, but the company has not done so despite the regional system being available since 1999.
The 60-day notice is part of a legal process through the Clean Air and Water Act that allows citizens to sue when they believe the government is not enforcing air or water pollution rules.
“These guys are polluting the Saluda River, not meeting their permit limits, and they could solve this problem by tying in (to regional sewage), which they were supposed to do,’’ said Congaree Riverkeeper Bill Strangler.
The I-20 plant is supposed to treat sewage in accordance with their permit to operate, but documents show at least 19 occasions in the past four years in which the company has exceeded wastewater discharge limits into the Saluda River.
“Carolina Water Service has a history of using legal and political maneuvering to continue to pollute rivers and make money,” Stangler said. “What surprises me is they are able to continue doing this over and over again. That doesn’t change.”
In 1994, DHEC fined Carolina Water $305,500, and $16,000 last year, for wastewater violations. The most recent fine said that Carolina Water exceeded the limits for lead, which is toxic in large enough quantities, and releasing too many substances that lower oxygen levels in the river.
The Lexington Saluda River plant has also faced charges for fecal coliform bacteria being released into the Saluda River.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help Plaintiffs Exposed to Toxins in the Saluda River
A toxic tort involves the exposure of individuals, often in large numbers, to harmful chemical or biological substances. If you or a loved one have been exposed to a toxic substance in the Saluda River and have since suffered health problems and personal injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the toxic tort attorneys today for a free consultation. 803.252.4800.