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 and SCE&G have looked into it and say the tar was likely formed decades ago by plants that converted coal into a combustible gas.
Robert Yanity, spokesman for SCE&G is working with DHEC on a clean-up plan even though there is no proof the tar was created by the utility’s predecessor.
It appears that it could have come from one of our manufactured gas plants, so we’re going to step up and do the right thing. We’ll determine how big the problem is and then develop a cleanup plan.
Yanity says they’re not really sure what source contributed to the coal tar.
It’s possible there were other sources that contributed to it. There’s no definitive way to tell. But it’s important to get in there and start the process for a cleanup plan, and we’ll work with DHEC to do it quickly but do it the right way.
Yanity says the coal tar is not the result of any recent or ongoing release, but is consistent with the coal tar created by the manufactured gas plants that operated throughout Columbia more than a century ago.
Although it may never be determined where the coal tar originated, Yanity says that SCE&G is committed to ensuring that the deposit is removed. He says it has been confirmed that the tar in the river bed did not result from any recent activity.