Heads up! South Carolina lawmakers return to Columbia this week. Columbians have for years joked, “It’s time to lock up your wine, women and silver.” Unfortunately, you cannot always protect your pocketbook or future health from State House shenanigans.
For South Carolina citizens and taxpayers, the chickens are coming home to roost at the Pinewood hazardous waste dump on the banks of Lake Marion in Sumter County. A massive campaign aimed at South Carolina lawmakers and conducted over several decades by corporations and their lawyers and lobbyists allowed landfill owners Laidlaw Environmental and then Safety Kleen to escape financial and legal responsibility and leave South Carolina taxpayers holding the bag for future monitoring and clean up of the site.
Last week, Catherine Templeton, director of the Department of Health and Environmental Control, brought the financial shortfall for monitoring to the public’s attention. In the 1990s, DHEC rejected expert recommendations requiring the company to establish a trust fund of more than $100 million to monitor and provide cleanup if and when the waste began migrating off-site. Under political pressure from legislators and other top officials, DHEC rejected the advice.
In all probability, there is a second shoe that will drop when it is discovered that the toxic soup is leaking and migrating into Lake Marion. Put simply, the toxins in this dump are the worst of the worst, and when dumping began in the 1970s, the facility was not required to have even the minimum safeguards mandated of household garbage dumps today. The health and financial implications of this disaster will be catastrophic. No mortal can predict what South Carolina taxpayers might be facing at that point. The current monitoring cost shortfall will be a comparative drop in the bucket.
It would take too many barrels of ink to name and describe those who coordinated and enabled Pinewood over the decades. And besides, it would not be polite.
Suffice to say that a battalion of waste industry lawyers and lobbyists worked hand–in-glove with pliant legislators and other high officials to create a ticking time bomb with no contingency plan to contain and remediate the environmental and health harms on the horizon. DHEC should accept some fault in neglecting its responsibilities to the public, but in Palmetto politics, corporate pressure, lobbyist muscle and legislator steamrolling make for a holy alliance that can and does crush an agency’s better intentions. Common sense, public good and future consequences be damned.
Waste attorneys were successful in keeping Pinewood open despite herculean efforts by now retired Sumter senator Phil Leventis and the late Jimmy Chandler of the South Carolina Environmental Law Project to close the site. After 15 years of hearings in administrative, state and federal court, the dump had its last stand in Richmond before the federal circuit court, which ordered it closed in 2000.
The Pinewood hazardous waste site is only one piece of the infamous waste legacy South Carolina’s political leadership has crafted since the 1950s.
DHEC’s Shelly Wilson recently stated that old tanks holding 36 million gallons of deadly waste are cracking at the Savannah River Site in Aiken County. She called it “the single largest environmental threat” in the state.
Meanwhile, there are ongoing concerns about the migration of tritium and other nuclear materials into the waterways around the still open Barnwell County “low-level” nuclear waste site.
In this year’s legislative session, the largest waste companies in the nation are knocking on the State House door selling another bill of waste goods. “Flow control” may sound like a plumbing issue, but it basically describes how and where household garbage is collected and disposed of. If the out-of-state dump industry succeeds this year, they will in essence have a monopoly in collecting and burying waste, leaving our local officials and citizens out of the equation. If the bill succeeds, South Carolina will host even more waste from New York and New Jersey, and recycling initiatives will likely fade.
With the General Assembly’s return this week, wouldn’t it be heartwarming to think that current legislators would reflect on the ugly waste legacy of their predecessors and realize that actions they take today have long-term serious consequences decades down the road?
Relaxation, Pain Management, and Stress Relief
Licensed massage therapist Allison Morris of AMR Massage is offering 50% off your first session and every 5th session free of charge. Click here for location, hours, and more information.
Columbia’s Largest Sidewalk Sale
Shop local this tax free weekend! Devine Street and Five Points are teaming up for a massive sidewalk sale featuring great in-store specials from all your favorite retailers and a Saturday art stroll. Read more hereand here!
A Healthy Happy Hour
4-7 p.m at Good Life Cafe on Main St. Try our $4 local draft beers, $4 organic wine, 1/2 off select bottles of house wine and $5 handcrafted house cocktails with juices cold pressed and made daily. Click here for more info.
Tax-Free Weekend at Best Mattress
With big savings from July 31st-August 2nd, you can afford handcrafted quality. Free bed frame and pillows on any Full, Queen, or King set $599 and above! Click for locations and hours.
New Downtown Dessert and Coffee Bar!
Tony’s Italian Eatery has teamed up with Southern Charm Sweets to bring you the highest quality dessert selection in the downtown area. 1120 Washington St., Suite 2. Find us on Facebook!
SEARCH FREE TIMES
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Real Estate Spotlight
Concord Park From the $150’s. Off 12th St. Extension. 803.419.2227. mungo.com
Click here for more real estate.
GABLE HILL APARTMENTS 1, 2 & 3 BR’s available with many amenities. Surround yourself with Southern comforts at Gable Hill Apartments! Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 310 Ross Rd, Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
ST. ANDREWS COMMONS APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Close to everywhere YOU WANT TO BE! 1200 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
WATERFORD APARTMENTS 1 & 2 BR’s available with many amenities. Prime location, and plenty of space. Live large at Waterford Apartments. Bring in our ad in Free Times for $50 off your application fee. 1340 Longcreek Dr., Columbia, SC. Click here for more info.
Donate Plasma Today & Be Somebody’s Hero For Life. You could earn up to $400 a month! Program and fees vary per location. Contact your local center today. 803-736-5888. Click here for more info