The Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating coal tar that was found in the Congaree River in Columbia. But environmentalists say the tar does not appear to have been recently produced. DHEC says the tar was likely formed decades ago by plants that converted coal into a combustible gas.
The AP reports someone was wading in the river near downtown Columbia when they stepped in tar in the river bed. Some scientists think the deposits could have come from fuel plants that operated along the river from the late 1800s through the 1950s. SCE&G is working with DHEC on a clean-up plan, although there is no proof the tar was created by the utility’s predecessor.