Town of Cheraw

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Community Meeting Notice

Environmental Contamination Investigation

This notice is being released jointly by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the Town of Cheraw and is intended for the residents of Cheraw.

DHEC has recently discovered polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other chemical contamination in a drainage ditch behind the former Burlington Industrial Fibers James Plant located at 650 Chesterfield Highway in Cheraw, S.C.  Contamination has also been found in sediments and soils in and along the ditch downstream to the Great Pee Dee River three miles away.  This includes the downstream portions of Wilson’s Branch and Huckleberry Branch.  PCBs are man-made chemicals that were manufactured and used in many industrial applications from 1929 until they were banned from being made in the United States in 1979.  The reason that PCBs were banned was because of concern for the lasting effects they have on the environment.

It is believed the PCB discharge occurred between 1961 and 1972 when the Town of Cheraw did not have a sanitary sewer system in place, and Town of Cheraw officials were not aware of any environmental contamination discharge.

The presence of PCBs was also confirmed in surface soils and creek sediments in Huckleberry Park located about one mile downstream from the former Burlington Plant.  To protect public health and out of an abundance of caution, the Town of Cheraw and DHEC have temporarily closed the park while DHEC’s investigation continues.  The Town of Cheraw has posted signs and put up barrier tape around the park until the investigation into the contamination is finished and clean-up has taken place.

DHEC is currently conducting additional sampling in the area in order to fully determine the extent of the contamination and has requested assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in this ongoing investigation.

The first priority of both DHEC and the Town of Cheraw is ensuring the safety of residents and keeping the local community informed as our investigation progresses.  DHEC will hold a community meeting on November 2, 2016 at Long Middle School in Cheraw at 7 p.m., to discuss the data and the next steps. 

If you should have questions concerning this investigation or upcoming community meeting, please contact Leigh Plummer in DHEC’s local Florence Office at (843) 661-4825, or by e-mail at plummelw@dhec.sc.gov

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