A sewage disposal site in the Lexington County town of Pelion has been controversial for nearly two decades, especially after some nearby residents complained their groundwater was contaminated from spills at the site.
Complicating the problem is that C.E. Taylor-the company which owns the dump- is operating under an expired permit. The state Department of Health and Environmental Control has not yet granted a new one after nearly two years.
Frustrated with the slow pace, Rep. Kit Spires (R-Lexington) has crafted legislation that would order the agency to grant or reject any pollution permits within six months of getting them. If DHEC does not make a decision within that time, the permit would automatically be rejected. Spires says he worries about timeliness.
This is not to penalize people that are in the business of sewage treatment… it’s basically to put guidelines that DHEC needs to work under to permit these people.
The bill will come before a House panel on Thursday.
The issue on the C.E. Taylor site is liquid sewage (such as waste and restaurant grease) that experts believe may have soaked through the sand into water below ground. Nearby residents who get their drinking water from wells have seen those wells contaminated by toxic nitrates.
Spires said he just wants businesses and residents to be certain whether the site will remain open or not. He believes six months is long enough for the agency to reach a decision.
If there’s not a problem with any… type of permitting that needs to be done, then there shouldn’t be a six-month waiting period. If it’s dragging out for six months, there must be a problem.
However, he admits he hasn’t consulted the agency about the bill. DHEC said it could not comment on the legislation. Spires also said he did not know the extent other sites could be affected.